The Right Spot

There are places in travel world that one stumbles on which pose the question, “Should I tell anyone else? Or keep it my secret?”

Some of these spots are public knowledge. The Whispering Arch at Grand Central Terminal is one of these. Standing in the right spot, ear near the smooth brick and stone, you can hear what others say across the archway. Soundwaves travel, following the curve, and bring them to your ear.

There are such attractions set up in most science center with a parabolic dish at two points separated by vast distances. Step up and speak to a stranger. No phone needed. Just line of sight and sound waves.

There is an unintended spot constructed in one of the Delta Sky Lounges that I have discovered. In one particular seat, sound waves from other sides of the room travel right into my ear, as if the person and sometimes people are right next to me.

Over the last decade, I have listened to conversations about the automotive industry, political hatred of different parties, and a lot of sports. On one occasion I was able to listen to a phone call of a competitor talk on his Monday call about the sales he was working on. Sadly, no news, I already knew of each of the opportunities.

In the last month, I did hear one conversation that beat them all. A tantalizing tryst. A woman, guarded in her volume told the man she was with what she would be doing to him once they got to the hotel. It started with the bed, moved to the shower, then on to a night of fun. It included a nap, getting ready for dinner, and reservations at a nice restaurant in San Francisco. She also went on to the dirty parts. So proud of her two boys for the soccer match over the weekend, but the mud was so thick she might never get them clean.

People, it turns out, are pretty dull. Conversations full of passion should be left to books and movies.

In my first book “Peter in Flight” I describe the autobiographical encounter that has stayed with me for years. A stolen voicemail left by a wife for her husband at a hotel in St. Louis. The wonderful voice, “I love you honey. Come home soon.” Such wonderful words to hear and I am jealous of the man they were intended for.

Last week, I got to hear another conversation of equal love that I was envious of, a mom on the phone with her son. She was an airline attendant. Just off a flight, she stood next to me waiting for the airport tram. Her hand extended, talking to the video chat, her sons face at a desk on the other end.

“Did you do your homework?”

“Yeah.” His teenage voice replied as if it were embarrassing and tedious to talk to his mother.

 “I am at the airport and will be home soon.”

“I know.” The teenage mind is so preceptive it knows all.

“I’ve missed you. I love you.”

His silence and a blush of awkwardness across the screen.

“Come on, say it.”

“Fine,” he huffed. “I love you too mom.”

She smiled big. “I love you.” She repeated.

Now that is a stolen moment I won’t give back. I am a thief of stolen sentiments that were the property of others. It is added to my collection.

That one spot I sit at isn’t the real spot. It’s the one in my heart that always gets me when something like this stands out. This intimate secret of life I hope others hold on to and appreciate.

Paul PetersComment