On a recent flight, just before takeoff, the pilot told us passengers that we could listen to the control tower conversation by tuning in to one of the audio channels in our seats. I put my headphones on and listened to the back-and-forth between air traffic controllers and pilots as they tried to get everyone's flights up in the air.
Holiday traffic had the runways backed up, and for the next 45 minutes I heard a lot of conversations. Some were terse, some humorous, some disconcerting (such as my pilot telling the tower, "We might need to return to the gate -- we've wasted a lot of fuel already.") and others just confusing. Looking around at the scrunched faces and fingers frantically pushing the "up" volume button, I realized that other passengers also were engrossed in what they were hearing. The exciting chatter happening in our headphones was new to us. The other passengers not listening to the channel were blissfully unaware that chaos was happening all around them.
The whole situation made me realize that the conversations you'd hear during my average workday would probably bore you, or leave you scratching your head. My job is interesting to me, but for most people, listening to talk about content calendars, unemployment figures and what happened on last night's episode of "Community" wouldn't have droves of people tuning in.
But it did make me think about all the other occupations that probably have some pretty great conversations, but that only a few people get to hear. Here are eight jobs that we'd love to eavesdrop on:
Any type of personal assistant, whether for a business executive or a Hollywood celebrity, puts up with a lot of demands. If the boss is really busy and doesn't have time to perform menial tasks that the rest of us have to do ourselves, assistants can end up hearing some interesting things. Someone has to order flowers for the boss's "lady friend" (who isn't his wife). Or maybe a Hollywood A-lister wants to know why her dressing room isn't filled with adorable puppies and kittens for her to play with. Imagine the conversations assistants must have with their bosses.
For the safety of everyone in the country and for our mental health, the CIA keeps a pretty tight lid on its secrets. We're all thankful for that. Because they're so good at their jobs, however, CIA agents are mysterious to most of us. Wouldn't you love to know whom they talk to on a daily basis and what they say? Are they listening to someone's tapped phone? Maybe the average day isn't as exciting as we imagine, but we don't know because we never get to hear these conversations.
If you've ever tried to talk to a toddler for more than two minutes, you know how difficult it can be. Now imagine doing that for hours at a time with overbearing parents yelling, "Sit on Santa's lap! He's your friend!" It's not an easy job, and few people are strong enough to do it well, but listening to children ramble, cry and list all the gifts they want would be entertaining to eavesdrop on for a day.
What's said between an attorney and a client is privileged information and for good reason. However, sometimes when you see two people who went from love to hate seemingly overnight, the tabloid-reading part of you can't help but think, "What went on in that marriage?" These are the moments when you have absolutely no right to listen to someone's private conversations, but you really wish you could.
On a plane, you can't always hear other people's chatter above the roar of the engine, the whir of the overhead vents and the thump of the child kicking the back of your seat. If you could, however, you'd hear some unforgettable exchanges. Passengers ask flight attendants for blankets and pillows or to adjust the plane's temperature. Sometimes flight attendants have to act as referee when two passengers are fighting over elbow space on the armrest. Ever the professionals, flight attendants have to keep their cool when dealing with passengers, but you know they exchange some pretty interesting stories behind the scenes.
Simply sitting in the chair getting my hair cut, I have heard some conversations that I'll never forget. Outside of a psychiatrist's office, I think a hair salon is the only place you'll hear people share personal secrets with a room full of strangers. Stylists are usually good at nodding and joining in the conversation, whether or not they actually care, and customers keep right on blabbing.
Human resource managers
As with attorneys, HR mangers aren't allowed to share much of what's discussed behind closed doors. Yet that's precisely why we're so curious. We don't really care what's going on with Lou from marketing, but we would like to hear the outrageous problems -- many of which are not work-related -- that HR managers get asked about.
Forget about party affiliation and which candidate you'll be casting your vote for; we all want to hear the confidential conversations taking place in the Oval Office. The president knows information before many of us ever hear it, and plenty of what's shared in the executive branch never reaches our ears. Some of that confidential information would probably make us lose sleep at night, but for one day it would be interesting and perhaps life-changing to hear it. Presidents make decisions that directly affect millions of Americans and indirectly affect the lives of people around the globe -- workplace chatter doesn't get much more interesting than that.