Darrell Huckaby: Private conversations a thing of the past

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Listen up, y'all. You might want to hear this.

It strikes me as a little bit funny, all the fuss folks are making about the government listening in on our supposedly private conversations. Don't hear what I ain't saying. I am all about the Bill of Rights and have never been one to advocate giving up personal liberty for the sake of a little security -- and the good Lord knows that I am all about individual freedoms and would be the last person in the world to want Big Brother listening to me -- but . . .

The "but" is that some of the people I have heard complaining the loudest about their privacy being invaded are the same people who talk the loudest -- in public -- all the time. These folks act like they want everybody and his brother to know their business, so I don't know why they would object to Uncle Sam suffering along with the rest of us.

Let me give you an example or three. Last week I spent a right smart period of time in airports. I don't take any chances when I travel by air. I never want to be an O.J. Simpson racing through airports hurdling someone's luggage. He did it for years and you see how he turned out. I get to the airport in time to get patted down and fondled by the TSA and still get to my gate in time to read two newspapers and do the crossword puzzle before they start boarding the cheap seats.

It's getting harder and harder to work the crossword puzzle these days, though, because of all the noise pollution in the waiting area. By that I mean folks talking on their cellphones like they were sitting under a hairdryer in their local beauty salon.

What this country needs is not a good 5-cent cigar, but a return to the days of the telephone booth. You went inside one of those things and closed the door and not even Clark Kent would have his privacy invaded.

Last week, I sat for 30 minutes -- trying to mind my own business -- listening to a poor guy from Chicago trying to solve the problems of his stepson Jamaal. Jamaal, it seems, was trying to play his mother and stepfather against one another while trying to convince his real dad that his stepfather was the biggest jerk in the world. Meantime, Jamaal was skipping school and on the verge of having to repeat the 11th grade.

The last thing I wanted to hear about was some juvenile delinquent with a bad attitude. But it got worse. Jamaal had taken a tidy sum of money from his mother's purse and disappeared in his uncle's truck and nobody had seen him for a couple of days -- which, apparently, wasn't unusual.

I am not eavesdropping on the conversation, understand. The guy beside me is broadcasting this information to everyone within five seats in any direction. I finally told the guy to get Jamaal on the phone so I could talk to him. "I'll jerk a knot in his tail before you can say 'spit,'" I promised the guy.

He wasn't appreciative of my help but he did wander away, phone to his ear, looking for a different place in which to complete his conversation.

It didn't get any better, though, because the lady on the other side of me was calling everybody she knew, seemingly for the sole purpose of complaining about her recent stay with her husband's family. They didn't treat her well and they didn't appreciate her and none of the food they prepared was up to her standards. She didn't tell just one person this. She repeated the same story over and over and over. I finally got so sick of hearing her complain that I got up and left, myself, and went looking for Jamaal's stepdad so I could find out if Jamaal had ever shown up back at home.

It doesn't just happen at the airport, either. People walk up and down the aisles of supermarkets, blaring their business into thin air through the magic of something known as Bluetooth technology. Remember when they used to have ushers patrolling movie theaters with a flashlight shushing people who tried to talk during the movie? Foy Harper was an All-America shusher at the Strand Theater in Covington.

They don't have those folks anymore and people don't just whisper to their friends. They carry on streaming conversations over their cellphones throughout the entire movie. Where is Foy Harper when you need him?

The federal government doesn't need to spend billions of dollars tapping phone lines from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo. They just need to send folks around with their ears open.

Just don't get me started on the new health care rules, though.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com. He will be signing books for Father's Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Evans Market on Ga. Highway 20 S.