From heartbreaking betrayals to shocking secrets to the most random comments imaginable, these people share the times eavesdropping went wrong.
1. Mind the Gap(s)
My neighbor has her mother living next door to her and they fight all the time. One time, the mother started screaming “I should never have poked holes in the condom!!!”
2. The Touching Art of Motion Picture
My old neighbor was a cam girl, and I could hear absolutely everything she said in every single session for a good four months. I work from home, and it was always a gamble whenever I had to meet with someone virtually.
3. Who Needs 911 When You Have a Good Neighbor
In college, I lived in a crummy apartment near the school. Halfway to class one day, I realized I forgot a book and rushed back to get it. As I ran up the stairs, I heard yelling. On my way back down, book in hand, I paused to listen—and thank god I did. I heard some unintelligible moaning, and eventually heard the words “Help me.”
I rushed out and tried their door, but it was locked. I totally forgot about my class and ran to the apartment management office, hoping that someone was there. A manager was, thank goodness, and after I explained the situation, she grabbed her master keys and we booked it back to my neighbor’s place.
She opened the door. The poor guy was laying in the stairwell, clearly having fallen. I called 911 while the manager ran over to the guy. Ambulance came and picked him up, and I later learned that he had fallen down the stairs after passing into a brief diabetic coma. To this day, I feel grateful that I forgot that book and overheard his cries. That poor guy could have died, slumped halfway down the stairs with his face in the carpet.
4. A Change of Plans?
At work, I heard one of my colleagues say the following into his phone: “You promised that we would get a divorce after you got your green card!”
5. So Much for the Cost of Friendship
I once heard a former roommate laughing with his then-girlfriend about how they were screwing me over on money. Turned out they were taking my “utilities” checks and buying various games and alcohol. Instead of confronting them, I confirmed what they said with the utilities company (they hadn’t paid the bill in two months) and moved all my stuff out while they were at work.
For good measure, I took myself off the lease and told the rental company about the girlfriend who had been there six months.
6. Family Moments for the Whole Building
My downstairs neighbors are a couple with a one-year-old boy. The baby’s room is right under mine. They speak so sweetly to him that I’m not even mad that I can hear them so clearly. One morning, the dad went in to get the baby out of bed and I hear him go “Can you say ‘daddy’? Can you say ‘daddy’?” And in the tiniest little voice I heard “daddy.” My heart melted.
7. Living For the Present
I was once standing in line waiting for a Tim Horton’s coffee. The girl in front of me was talking with her friend. I overheard the following: “Yeah, so I just caught HIV from this dude. It’s okay though, it’s not like I’m going to die right away!” I want some of her positivity…
8. Just Exorcising His Rights
I once heard someone casually say, “Oh yeah, that reminds me! I had to go get an exorcism this weekend!” in the middle of a conversation.
9. Strangers on a Train
I overheard a few kids debating what happens to poop after you flush it on a train. One believed that it explodes on impact with the rails, another debated the possibility of it being shot out of the side like a cannon, and another was certain that it was used to fuel the train.
10. Hold Your Horses
I once heard an argument that went a little like this:
“Stop treating me like I’m stupid!”
“You asked if seahorses were mammals, Jessica!”
“THEY GIVE LIVE BIRTH.”
11. Getting Along Like Thunder and Lightning
My upstairs neighbors take turns zapping each other with a stun gun, hitting the floor, groaning in pain, and then laughing like Beavis and Butthead.
12. So Much for My Free Concert
I manage an apartment complex where my office is surrounded by a one-bedroom unit. The building is old, and the walls are thin. The tenant that used to live in the unit was a quiet man but would frequently sing beautiful opera music. His voice was amazing, and I loved hearing him sing! Then one time I saw him in the halls so I talked to him about it—and I’ve regretted it ever since.
His face turned red, but he confirmed that it was him. I told him that I always enjoyed it when I heard him sing and that it would always brighten my day. Never should have said anything because I never heard him sing again.
13. Lies Spread Like a Disease
I heard the couple next door arguing. The wife was furious because she realized her husband was cheating on her, but that wasn’t even the worst part. She found out about the affair because she tested positive for chlamydia. He tried to convince her that she must have been the unfaithful one. She still lives there. He doesn’t.
14. Someone Loves a Routine
In our old apartment, our upstairs neighbor had extremely loud, theatrically enthusiastic sex in the middle of the day. The puzzle was that he would stop in the middle, and we’d hear him walk to the bathroom, stay there for a minute or two, and then walk back and resume in the bedroom. It was the same bizarre pattern every time.
We could never figure out what that was all about. Any ideas welcomed.
15. Rehearsal Isn’t Everyone’s Relaxation
I heard my neighbors’ argument about money while I was doing the dishes. It ended with a slammed door, and one of them on a piano, hitting the keys like a maniac. Some people read, some people go get something to eat, some people exercise…this guy relieves stress by going crazy on a piano.
16. Living Above an International Conspiracy
I moved from far away, so I have a different state license plate than everyone else who lives in my apartment complex. A couple of days ago, I overheard my upstairs neighbor drunkenly ranting to his wife about what he thinks I’m up to. He’s convinced that I must be on the run from something nefarious. I’m just in grad school lmao.
17. With Care Like This, You’re Better Off Alone
I lived next to a guy who took care of his disabled girlfriend. She stayed home with a nurse while he worked to support them and pay for her healthcare. Everyone really admired him for it. But because I lived next door, I knew the chilling truth. He used to get drunk and tell her that if she doesn’t start putting out, he was going to throw her out.
18. A Sharp Turn at Lover’s Lane
“Gina, I love you! Gina no! Gina, dammit put the knife down!!” At this point, both the apartments next to Gina’s unit called the police. Gina’s husband decided to spend the night elsewhere.
19. This Relationship is Heading for the Bullseye
I lived next to a couple some years ago. They came home after a night out and started fighting about who was better at darts. I thought they were joking, but it got pretty heated. From what I could tell, they were playing as a team and the boyfriend wasn’t pulling his weight and was super defensive about it (had an off night, allegedly).
The girlfriend was mad that he couldn’t accept she was better. I’m no detective but think they had some relationship issues bigger than darts.
20. Two to Tango, Three to Brawl
The way my old apartments were laid out, the neighbor’s bedroom was right next to my kitchen/dining room. One night, I hear them being intimate while I was fixing dinner. I just turned up the music. Two hours later, I heard the familiar thump thump thump. I think, good for them and bag up the trash. Thump thump thump. I open the door and take my bag of trash outside. As I’m walking out, I see the male half of my thumping neighbors…walking in from his car.
Walking back from the dumpster, I see a half-naked dude running out of the neighbor’s apartment. They moved shortly after that.
21. It’s Good to Get a Third Opinion
When I was younger, I had a tiny apartment in the hood and a raging gang member for a boyfriend. We would get in raucous fights and my downstairs neighbor would call the police. One time, I was crying quietly after a particularly bad fight that had gotten physical, and I heard my neighbor arguing with her husband: “No, I’m not going to mind my own business and ignore it. I don’t care that he always comes back the next day and she forgives him. One day he’s going to really hurt her or kill her and I’m not going to live with knowing that I sat there and did nothing when I KNEW a girl was being abused.”
I was so naive and young I had never considered it abuse. That felt so melodramatic, but I realized that my neighbor was right. I finally left him for good after that fight. So, good looking out random lady in east LA in 1999. I’m sorry for being the worst neighbor imaginable.
22. Don’t Scratch His Back and He Won’t Scratch Yours
I used to live in a sketchy building, and my landlord lived right underneath me. He was a weird guy, and there were all kinds of rumors about him but I chalked them up to gossip. There were a ton of homeless people in the neighborhood, which was fine, they were just part of the neighborhood and anyone who lived there knew them.
A lot of days they would hang out on our front stoop, and no one really cared or made an issue out of it. Anyway, I would often hear knocks that sounded like they were coming from the windows, not the front door. I would try to run over and catch whoever it was but could never catch anyone in time. So one night, I hear the knocking while I’m in bed and it sounds like it’s from the window right under me to my left. I look down real quick, see one of the regular homeless guys in the neighborhood, and see my landlord open up the door and let him in.
I never expected what happened next. I’m lying there listening, wondering what is going on. As clear as day, I hear the homeless guy say to my landlord, “I need something to eat. I was just wondering if you needed a back rub or something.” That’s when I realized all the rumors about my landlord were true.
23. Blame it on Looney Tune
Years ago, I had an upstairs neighbor. At 2am, every night, I heard something sprint across the entire apartment. I realized three things: it was very fast, it took small strides, and it never deviated from its path. One day, I saw my neighbor outside, and I said, “I don’t know how you have energy at 2am?” He responded with, “Dude, I’ve been working the midnight to 8am shift for 15 years. Doesn’t bother me at all.”
That night, I watched him leave his house, drive off, and waited two hours. At exactly 2am, I heard what sounded like two feet hit the floor in his bedroom, and the marathon started. A few weeks later, I see him outside. I tell him what I hear at night and he says, “That’s strange, no one has my keys. It’s just me and my rabbit up there.”
24. This Threesome Was Really a Foursome
My last apartment had particularly weak walls between apartments. One night. I was reading in bed, and I was unknowingly the third party to a particularly nasty fight between the couple living next door. The fight last for almost an hour and was apparently the end of their relationship as she was going to leave him and the apartment the next day. The longer the fight went on, the more interested I became, and finally, I started to piece the whole crazy story together.
I did not know them personally, only enough to wave and say hi, help them with carrying up groceries etc… good neighbor stuff. It seemed the couple were bored with their intimate activities so they decided to fulfill a fantasy and invite another man to join them. I guess things worked out for awhile, but when Female A came home early from a work trip, she found Male A and Male B deeply engrossed without her.
Female A flipped out, and I guess after that point they tried to patch things up, but she caught both of them on two other occasions (the latest being the night before fight night that I was unashamedly listening to). Neither neighbor would hold my gaze for long the next morning.
25. Living Here is a Job for a Man
My previous apartment was an absolute dump owned by a guy who can most accurately be described by the word “slumlord.” He rented primarily to illegal immigrants/convicted felons/people who would be afraid to complain about the living conditions. I am not an illegal immigrant, nor am I a convicted felon, and I made this landlord’s life hell by demanding that he fix everything that wasn’t up to code and notifying the board of health when he didn’t.
The family to our right was a Mexican family…a couple and their four elementary school-aged children. One night, I heard them arguing about trying to get their family out of this apartment complex and into a better living situation. All of a sudden, the lady yelled, “You didn’t even have the balls to make (the landlord) fix the broken septic tank. Maybe I should be having this conversation with the kid next door!”
I’m pretty sure I laughed loud enough to be heard by the entire complex.
26. Playing the Blame Game and He’s Unfortunately Winning
So! Close to midnight I woke up to a bunch random barking sounds from one of the apartments near me. As I come to, I realize that it’s my neighbors fighting. The man sobbed, “Why would you look at my phone while I’m in the shower?! You should have waited!” Now, if you’ve ever heard a Hispanic woman go off on a guy, the insults start to meld into each other like machine gun fire…
Turns out he’d been cheating a lot and had been gaslighting her for months. Then he caved, “Ok. Yes. I cheated on you. BUT! It’s only because you were being negligent.” She paused for a second, but it felt like a lifetime. I was stunned. This woman is always around, they’re always going on camping trips and doing outdoorsy stuff. It’s not like they work often or long hours.
She began tossing more things, packed her stuff, and left after launching another barrage of insults. They’re still together.
27. I’ll Rise, But I Won’t Shine
I woke up at 6 am hearing the sound of a nuclear warning siren on full blast coming from the bedroom wall connected to mine. One minute later, it changes to a car alarm. Next, it’s a whistle and so on for ONE AND A HALF EXCRUCIATING HOURS. I went to work angry (and sleepy), thinking who would leave such a thing on and not be home to turn it off.
It happens again the next morning too, and after 30 minutes of staring at my wall, I go over and knock loudly on the door. No answer. Again, I think who would go on vacation and leave such an obnoxiously loud thing? Alarm? What is happening over there? On the fourth day, I leave a stern letter in the door. Upon returning home, there is a note in my door.
It read: “I am so sorry I did not realize our walls were so thin and it was waking you up, I just moved in. I am a ‘deep sleeper’ and need this every morning to wake up.” (FROM A COMA?!) “I will try to turn it down some and move it off of our shared wall.” They did turn it down but I still hear it every morning, FML. Six months later, I moved.
28. The Buffet Line Next Door
I always used to hear my neighbor say “I smell Indian food!!” and come over within 10 seconds. It got to the point where my mom would make extra food just for him and his wife when we did make Indian food. Really nice couple. Hope they’re doing well!
29. Domestic Disturbance is the Universal Language
The most heartbreaking one was two people bickering in a language I didn’t understand while their baby was crying. The crying got more intense as the argument heats up. Suddenly the man explodes in a rage, screams what I can only guess are a stream of obscenities at the top of his lungs, and then I hear stuff being thrown around the apartment.
The only sound I heard after that was the mother sobbing, and the footsteps of the man walking away. You have no idea how relieved I was to hear the baby crying later that night. I couldn’t call the cops because the apartments were set up in such a way that it was diagonally attached to the back and I didn’t know what apartment number it was.
It was also in a high drug traffic area, and the cops would never go door to door asking about a baby in the middle of the night at that place.
30. The Nuisance is Coming From Inside the House
My ex and I were drinking a bit and ended up tickling each other for some reason at a campus housing. The upstairs neighbor called it in as a possible domestic violence episode. She felt terrible afterward and admitted that she was just feeling really paranoid because her husband had left for a military tour. We were casual friends so I’m sure she felt worse.
She wasn’t sure but felt she should call the dean regardless. But then the dean called the police rather than just sending someone to check on us. Our neighbor did make us a ton of cookies the following week to apologize.
31. The One-Note Neighbor
The flat next to me loved to sing along to music. Quite often, I get serenaded through the wall while I’m in the bathroom. Occasionally they get obsessed with a song and just keep playing it over and over again. Last year, I heard “Love Me Again” literally hundreds of times, often six or seven times in a row.
32. Practice Makes Perfect
New duplex neighbor Mark was a freshly divorced white guy in IT who kept to himself. These are studio apartments, so just one big room. I don’t watch TV and lead a pretty quiet life, so Mark’s life became fascinating. We didn’t talk other than the initial introductions where he said he’d begun learning the guitar. Flash forward a couple months: I heard “Seven Nation Army” on repeat, sometimes with really strange voices.
Like, he’d sing the song as a Jamaican Kermit the Frog, sometimes curse at himself, and sometimes I’d heard just a couple ill-timed plucks in between intervals of crying, ranging from small sniffles to heaving, soul-shredding throat-straining animal cries. I would see him taking out the trash and feel like I KNEW him.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could hear his calls to his mom (honest), to his friends (exaggerated and followed by long sighs), to his lawyer (defeated, broken). I heard his pizza order, his views on referee calls, his own rendition of a cooking show when he would describe wetting a paper towel and wrapping leftover pizza in it before microwaving it.
He kept at the guitar nearly every night and could eventually play on time but never really played any other songs, just kept patiently practicing that one. Skip a couple rough months forward to me losing my mind silently through the wall when he played it for his date. My god, I was on the edge of my seat, flailing my arms like a conductor.
I felt like a pageant mom. My man played it flawlessly and the girl loved it. I cried. Cried. I don’t know how my emotions got involved but I was so proud of him. I regret not telling him that I knew when I moved out. Maybe he knew. Mark, you legend, you were right—they couldn’t hold you back. Keep going and don’t doubt yourself, Jamaican Kermit be believing in you mon.
33. Crime Never Pays, But Sometimes It Stays
I heard a neighbor get stabbed by an intruder who then jumped off a third-story balcony and broke his leg—and it just gets crazier from there. I looked out of our balcony just in time to see him slide into some bushes below. The cops show up, and the victim got sent to the hospital (mostly superficial wounds; he ended up being fine). They cased the apartment complex and I told them what I saw. When I pointed out where I had seen him hide, they checked the bush and he was STILL THERE.
He admitted it immediately and was promptly escorted off to jail. Not too bad for a Tuesday night in Middletown Ohio.
34. Dance, Dance, Revolution
So to set the scene, we live in a solid brick block of 4 flats built in the 1960s. This building is going nowhere. We are in one of the downstairs flats and lead a quiet life. Occasionally, we listen to some music, maybe watch some comedy specials on TV and laugh a little loudly, sometimes my girlfriend gets a bit heated while playing video games. Other than that though, just normal domestic lowkey hum.
The neighbor above us is a professional singer who teaches students from home to supplement her income. No problem to us, we usually have headsets on and can’t hear anyway. She also has had a string of fellas that she has had loud screeching intimate time with. Again, no skin off our nose, we make our share of similar noise ourselves.
Finally, she is a heel stomper and a possession dropper. We can hear every single step she takes, and every single thing she drops on her floor. You would assume floorboards, right? Wrong. She has carpet laid on a concrete slab. She is insanely noisy to live under, but we could forgive all of this—if it weren’t for one thing: She sends us blatantly rude texts whenever we make the slightest bit of noise, asking us to tone it down.
We are in a Cold War standoff, and no side is set to back down. When we move one day, I am buying a battery speaker and a cheap MP3 player and leaving “Sweet Caroline” (her name) on repeat at full volume. She can deal with that sweet racket until the batteries give up!
35. You’ll Always Have Me, Neighbor
One time I was studying in my apartment but I could hear someone talking so I took off my headphones and listened. It was a girl on the phone, having what sounded like a pretty heated break-up. She said some dumb cliché stuff, like that he’s making a huge mistake, and that’s she’s the best he’ll ever get. I think she said something about her being so great because she was blonde, and he’d never pull off dating another blonde.
Eventually, she hung up, and I was like, wow, that was weird, she sounds like such a drama queen. Then I left my room to go to the kitchen, and walked by my roommate’s room…and my stomach dropped. She was crying in her room…because she’d just broken up with her boyfriend. And I had accidentally eavesdropped her whole break-up. Never did share that bit…
36. Damsel in Another Unit
About a week before I was scheduled to move into a new apartment, the landlord called me and told me the apartment was no longer available. However, there were other units available, and I could come look at them if I wanted. I was pretty mad, because we had already agreed on a unit, but I came and picked out the unit across the hall.
I moved in, and the first day and night went fine. The second night, I’m woken up by the sound of someone banging on the door across the hall. That’s when I learned the disturbing reason behind the landlord’s actions. It turns out the reason the landlord gave the apartment I wanted to someone else is that it was a lady in an abusive relationship who was trying to get away from her abuser, and that unit was the only one immediately available.
Somehow, he found out where she was and started banging on her door. Eventually, she opens the door and they get into a shouting match. He hits the wall a few times and throws some glass bowls down the hallway. She begs him to leave her alone. He threatens to kill her and says he’s gonna leave and go get a gun and come back. He finally leaves, yelling and breaking stuff all the way out. The cops were called. They show up. She seems to blow it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal.
While the cops are there, a few neighbors and I clean up the glass out of the hallway, and as they’re leaving I tell her to let me know if she needs anything. She says she’s not from here and is leaving town the next day. That was a couple months ago. She’s gone, and somebody else lives there now. I don’t really know what happened. He hasn’t been back, and I haven’t seen her since then. I hope she’s alright.
37. He Missed His Shot
This is technically a story of something I didn’t overhear. I was staying at a place in Downtown Denver, near Sports Authority Field. It was around 10 at night, and me and my friends had just downloaded Just Cause 3 to try the multiplayer mod. Not gonna lie, I had my Skullcandy Crushers at max bass and volume (bad idea). We fire it up and have a blast, blowing stuff up, jetpacking around, etc. About 40 minutes into the session I hear a SUPER loud banging at my door. Like, hella loud. I take my headphones off and get up to check the door…
I open the door to three police officers with their glocks at the half-ready. Was asked if I was the only one in the room (I was) and asked me what I was doing. Told him, and he explained what happened. One of the other tenants had gotten drunk/high and went into the bathroom next to my room…and he took a 9MM with him. Apparently, he shot off a round that punched through the wall of the bathroom and lodged in the wall about 5 inches behind me/above my head.
I called my dad and moved out that night.
38. Home is a Place to Be Alone with Your Thoughts, Unfortunately
Some years back, I had a neighbor who was schizophrenic. He would randomly start yelling threats at people who weren’t there. Truly frightening things like “I’m gonna beat your head in with a baseball bat!!” often in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. This happened all the time and went on for like a year.
At first, I didn’t know of his illness, and thought he actually had people there. Was the only time in my life that I called the police on someone, because I truly believed if I didn’t, someone might have been killed that night. But as it turns out, he was home alone shouting at his own ghosts.
My walls weren’t that thin, either. For me to hear him as clearly as I could, he was really shouting these things. Eventually, enough complaints were lodged against him, and the landlord got him evicted. Had to deal with this for over a year, though. Apparently on the day he was supposed to be out, he refused to leave and camped in the apartment.
Everybody else in the apartment vacated that day for their safety, and the cops were called in case anything bad happened. Eventually, his dad was able to coax him out. Hope this guy got the help he desperately needed, but Jesus I’m so glad I don’t live next to him anymore!
39. Get a Load of This Guy
I very frequently heard the neighbors arguing, trash style. Usually, it was the woman yelling at the man, who has apparently done some time in prison but for the life of me I could not figure out what this guy would have done; he’s more redneck than thug. He had the stereotypical redneck, but not full-blown country, voice and everything.
Usually their arguments were something where he didn’t think their son was his, she must have cheated on him, etc. Typical trash arguments. Well one day I heard them going back and forth again. Not really phased by it anymore, I went to pee in our bathroom that happens to share a wall with them. Whilst sitting there I heard the woman’s voice yelling, somewhat muffled.
Then CLEAR AS DAY I hear the man yell the most hilarious thing back: “I am ACT-UAL-LY POOPING!” I swear it soundws like he was not even a foot away from me, as he probably wasn’t. I let out a HEARTY laugh that I’m sure he heard. I have no idea what led them to that point, but I’m glad I was there to experience that moment.
40. It Takes a Chorus to Sublet a Room
There was a bit of a mystery in the apartment that my parents rented for a short time. I’d often hear singing. It was a woman’s voice coming usually from the apartment above us, but as far as I knew, the only stuff in that unit was a single man and a forest of exercise equipment.
Sometimes it would be two voices overlapping. Sometimes it would be a different voice. Sometimes it came from the adjacent apartment instead of the one above us. Sometimes it sounded like actual melodies, other times just random humming. Sometimes it would last for hours, other times just twenty minutes or so.
It was always different times of day. We never found out where, who, or what is was coming from.
41. Don’t Wait Up for Marvel
Lived in a house that was rented out as a duplex. Only separation was doors that were locked on both sides. Needless to say, we heard everything. The man next door always came quickly, and the women would literally beg him to keep going but I never heard her actually finish. Lol, hopefully they worked that out.
The best was, one time I overheard him playing with dolls or action figures when he was home alone. It was more role-playing than playing, I guess. I heard him play out scenarios involving himself but he referred to himself as “b-money” Like “then b-money swooped in and saved everyone there”… It was amazing. Hahaha.
42. A Helping Hand from Far Away
While stationed in Germany, I lived in this apartment busing that had four floors. I lived on the top floor. The layouts of the apartments were the same for one side, and the bathroom was right by the doors of the apartments. There was this couple that lived two floors beneath me. We all knew that this guy abused his wife some way or another; we never saw her, and she was a complete shut-in. We called the police multiple times, but of course with no evidence, they couldn’t do anything.
One time on my way up, I heard him yelling, as always. I usually paused by the door to see if I could hear her in distress. Well, as I paused by the door, I heard this piece of human garbage yell something truly chilling across his apartment: “You don’t have to cut yourself just because I hit you!” Apparently, the poor girl was in the bathroom cutting herself because she was so tired of being abused.
I called the police promptly. I knew about how long they’d take to get there, so right before they showed up, I began pounding on his door. He answered it, angrily. I immediately laid into him. The whole neighborhood could hear me, even the MPs when they got there. He went to jail and was kicked out; she went to the hospital. I’m just really thankful that I stopped and listened.
43. Wet and Wild
My upstairs neighbors yelled “bad dog” at their dog so loud that my dog ran into a corner and peed.
44. So Much for Doctor Neighbor Confidentiality
Once while I was waiting to see my doctor, I heard the nurse in the other room say, “Well, sir, that certainly doesn’t look like herpes.” But that’s not even the worst part. If we could hear that so clearly, they could definitely hear us laughing after.
45. Dumping Buddies
Our bathrooms were back to back. There’s nothing like going on a “bombing run” with your neighbor.
46. Snot in Translation
Some girl was singing in some language I didn’t understand. She was singing beautifully. Suddenly I hear:
(Singing) Aaaaaa-ah-ah ACHOO
(Silence) HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA snort
She was laughing so hard, I started laughing. I hope she didn’t hear me.
47. Dreaming of a White Christmas
I once overheard a family talking in the Christmas decorations aisle. The kid asked, “Dad, can we get a white man for Christmas?” The shocked dad said, “What?!” Then the kid pointed at the shelf, directly at a snowman. The dad burst out laughing.
48. Minding His Own Business?
I once overheard my ex having a “business” call in his office that sounded an awful lot like cheating…
49. Getting the Message
I was once home alone as a 12-year-old and my dad’s friend called the house. I let it go to voicemail—every single day, I wish I picked up that phone. I then overheard him leaving a bizarre message about my dad being the best friend he’d ever had. My dad came home about 10 minutes later and I told him about the voicemail immediately. Dad tried to call him and he didn’t pick up.
It turned out he had shot himself immediately after leaving the message—which was a pretty disturbing thing for someone my age to discover.
50. Living in the Past
I met my boyfriend’s family, then walked into the other room. I overheard his mother say “She’s nice and all, but I really liked your ex better. Whatever happened to her?”
51. Never On a Sunday
One time, I was sitting behind two old ladies in church. I overheard the first lady quietly whisper out of the side of her mouth, “I have a very unladylike itch right now!” The second lady whispered back “That’s ok, I just farted!”
52. Wheeling and Dealing
I once overheard a gentleman in a wheelchair telling someone that he could, “pop a wheelie in this bad boy.” Yes, he was referring to doing a bicycle stunt with his wheelchair. I had to introduce myself because that is the type of person that I need in my life.
53. A Whole Lotta Clamor
Didn’t hear the full conversation, but I once walked in on two employees at a convenience store as they ended a conversation with the phrase “…and that’s when we hid the clams.”
54. Building Some Trust
Once, at 2 in the morning, I sat on my balcony (third floor) and listened to a guy (ground level) who had just discovered that his girlfriend (fourth floor) had been cheating on him. He had apparently climbed a tree outside of the building and saw her topless with a guy in her room. I opened a beer and took a seat.
“You said you were studying. You don’t study with your shirt off!!”
55. Well That’s Awkward…
“I want out of this marriage.” Didn’t enjoy hearing my parents split up in the next room when I was a kid…
56. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
My downstairs neighbors were having a very loud fight one evening. I couldn’t resist listening in when I heard a woman yelling, “Did you sleep with her?! Did you sleep with her?!” over and over again. That was a fun night.
57. Heading Out
I was sitting in the food court of a mall, eating and minding my own business. A couple passed by my table and all I heard was her say to him: “…because my head went numb when you were laying on it last night…” I will never, ever get any context for what I heard that day.
58. The Nutty Professor
At a Chinese restaurant, I overheard an old man saying to his friend, “I’m telling you, my nuts swelled up like this!” He then held his hands apart as if he was holding a grapefruit.
I overheard two guys on the subway in New York City have the most disturbing conversation I’ve ever heard. They were discussing what the perfect handgun caliber would be for whacking someone. There was a small dude who was adamant that the best gun would be a 9mm because that’s what cops use. Then, the big dude starts shaking his head negatively and goes on to give a small speech about anatomy and ballistics.
He then proceeds to state that a competent assassin would use a mere .22 handgun, since it’s hard to track, the ammo is cheap, and you could easily get someone in the head without anyone knowing that it was gunfire. I think those guys must have been on their way to some kind of hitman convention.
60. Third Time’s the Charm
I once saw a couple sitting on a park bench, talking low key to each other. The guy said something to which the girl giggled and said “No.” He repeated it again and she laughed a bit louder, saying “No,” again. After he leaned in for the third time, she snapped and loudly said: “NO! I will not pee on you!”
61. The World’s Oldest Business
I once overheard my neighbors negotiating a fee with a prostitute. They wanted to pay the standard price for a one-hour session, but she was demanding double the pay because there were two guys involved.
62. Time for a Lullabye
Not exactly a conversation, but there’s a very loud guy who lives in the dorm below me. He doesn’t know this, but I can constantly hear him through the vent in my floor. He has a young sibling and he sings to her over the phone every night. I fall asleep to it sometimes.
63. Like a Rolling Stone
At my best friend’s graduation party, I overheard a student having a phone call in the other room. The last thing I heard him say before he hung up was “I’m a freakin’ grown man, mom! I’ll skateboard home myself!” We still use that line to this day.
64. Seasonal Allergies
Some coworkers and I were eating lunch outside on a patio one afternoon when, all of a sudden, two guys walked by. We overheard one of them say, “I was licking her body last night and forgot that she had just eaten peanuts. I’m allergic to peanuts…so, I had to spend the night in a hospital.” We started cracking up. The guy noticed, got annoyed, and said “What? It happens!!”
65. Cutting to the Chase
I was walking past a bar one night and there was a man standing outside talking on the phone. All I caught was, “Look fella, we need to start talking about the monkey!”
66. Scars and Stripes
I once overheard two girls on the bus sitting in front of me talking about a date that one of them had recently been on. While describing the date, one of them says, “and then he stuck his hand up my skirt!” Her friend responded, “Oh, you mean the one with the pretty stripes on it?” Pretty sure that wasn’t the point…
67. Feline Friend or Feline Foe?
I was eating beside two older gentlemen at a bar, and I heard one of them say something like: “That stupid cat follows me everywhere. I’ve told my granddaughter to keep it away from me, but everyone thinks its funny! I can’t get away from it!” There were then several moments of silence between the two before the second older man laughed and said: “You secretly love that little hairball, don’t you?”
The first guy let out a giant, irritated sigh and sullenly admitted: “Yes…”
68. A Long List of Plans
At the library, I once overheard a girl say the following quote into her phone: “Baby, just come over! I want to make love to you, and make spaghetti! I know I can’t change the past, but I can change your future.”
69. This Means War!
In high school, I was in the school cafeteria line one day when I overheard a couple of students talking about war. One guy was confidently explaining how he was sure that Sweden was going to invade Finland soon and that he was planning on going back there to defend it with his dad and uncle. This was in 2007. I guess the invasion never happened…
70. When It All Came Crashing Down
Years ago, my mom caught my dad having an affair. I overheard her as she was yelling at the top of her lungs while my dad was sobbing and begging her to take him back. I never looked at my dad the same way after that.
71. Till Landing Do Us Part
I once overheard two guys talking on a plane while flying to a wedding. It sounded like they were involved in the wedding party. They were going back and forth about how the bride had dated at least half of the groomsmen and even one of the bridesmaids. They were trying to figure out whether the groom knew. They decided that he probably didn’t.
They then debated the merits of telling him versus keeping their mouths shut. They never came to a conclusion on the plane. She sounds like one interesting woman!
I was at Costco and they had giant crab for sale. I overheard a little girl ask her dad, “What do those animals eat?” He replied: “Little girls like you!”
73. A Pretty Serious Charge
I once overheard a young boy asking his sister if she remembers how their mom used to beat them when they were kids. They were no older than nine. It was obviously weird, because that’s typically not the kind of thing you would want to talk about with a couple of dozen people standing around…
74. Broken Telephone
My freshman roommate in college would talk on the phone 24/7, to anyone and everyone: his girlfriend, the girl he was cheating on his girlfriend with, and—my personal favorite—some random conversation that I was barely paying attention to when suddenly I heard “Oh, I forgot to tell you! Your daughter broke up with me yesterday!” To this day, I kick myself for not having been paying attention from the beginning to get the full story.
75. Parental Guidance
Listening from the next room to my parents arguing about my father’s internet history having dirty websites in it, followed by a full-on argument about their declining sex life, was pretty rough on me when I was 12 years old.
76. Family Brunch
My family and I were at a restaurant and there was a father and his daughter (whom we’ll call D, for daughter) sitting in the booth right across the aisle from us. D looked to be no more than about 20 years old. She talked the whole time about her ex-boyfriend, Chris. Apparently, Chris had been married to someone else and D could not have cared less.
She said that it was all his wife’s fault for not being good enough to keep her husband faithful. Welp, it turns out Chris was still sleeping with his wife through all of this because she got pregnant. When D found out that Chris’ wife was pregnant, she was furious. She told Chris that he had to choose between her and his wife.
At first, Chris chose D. Then, he found out that his unborn child had congenital heart defects. So, he called off the divorce, broke up with D, and moved back in with his wife to help out. D sits there in silence looking slightly bewildered before saying, “I don’t know why he chose her and that (insert inappropriate slur here) baby. So what if it dies? They can always make another one!”
But that’s not even the worst part. Her dad breaks his silence and asks, “So, your mom and Chris aren’t getting divorced?” “YOUR MOM and Chris”?! YOUR MOM?! This crazy lady was having a blatant affair with her much older stepfather, made him choose between her and her pregnant mother, and then made sociopathic comments about her unborn brother!!
77. Pulling Their Legs
I was pulling up to an intersection with a bus stop just as the light turned green. I crept by this stop and all I heard was an old dude say, “And that’s how the son of a gun took my leg!” I look out my passenger window to see him holding a prosthetic in his hand, sitting in a wheelchair, facing the other people at the bus stop.
I don’t know what story they heard, but I’m pretty sure it was a darn good one!
78. Getting Serious
Two of my students were talking about this guy who had been texting one of the girls in my class. I chalked it up to middle school drama, and the day went on. Later, I overheard the girl who the others had been talking about say, “I think I’m scared.” Something about that just didn’t sit right with me. I circled back and was like, “Hey kid, need to talk to me about anything?”
She mulled over it for a bit and then asked if we could have a private convo. Turns out that this guy had sent the girl an inappropriate picture of himself—and oh yeah, he’s not a guy their age. It’s their teacher from an extracurricular activity. That was not a fun day.
79. Old News
After speaking with my grandpa on the phone, I realized that he hadn’t properly hung up. I overheard him comment to my uncle about how ungrateful I was. I had at that point visited him every week for a year and cleaned his entire bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, hallway, and living room each time—usually also bringing some food or dessert with me, too.
I moved out of town shortly after this incident.
80. Fighting for Her Right to Party
People usually don’t realize that I am bilingual and speak Spanish as well as English. Just recently, I was at a party and I overheard one of the Latino girls say something incredibly cruel. “That poor girl over there! She doesn’t know what we are saying, yet she keeps laughing at the jokes just because she sees everyone else laughing.” If they only knew…
81. This One Is to Dye for!
Some Japanese cashiers at our local grocery once had a conversation about whether my wife’s red hair was natural or dyed. As we walked away, I told them in Japanese that it was dyed, but not to tell my wife that I know.
82. The Luck of the Irish
I speak Norwegian and English, but I’m Irish by background. I was in Ireland one time and I heard a Norwegian guy talking on a bus to someone who I presume was his girlfriend. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but what I did understand made my skin crawl. He went into great detail about what he wanted to do in the bedroom when he got home. I just kept my mouth shut and laughed about it afterward.
83. Size Does Matter to This Guy!
I was speaking with a Russian friend in a bar one time and she stopped me in mid-sentence to inform me that the Russian guy right across from us talking on the phone was actually committing a disgusting act.He was loudly bragging about the size of his private parts over and over again to whoever he was talking to on the phone.
84. Let Me Finnish!
When I was a handsome young man of about 25 years of age, I was once at a wedding reception where I was introduced to two women who were both about 40-ish years old. I shook hands with one of them, who immediately acted as a translator and introduced me in Finnish to the other one. The second woman, in Finnish, while shaking my hand and looking me straight in the eye, said, “Oh, what a cutie! If I was 10 years younger, the things I would do to this man!”
The first one, again acting as a translator, said: “She is very pleased to meet you.” In Finnish, I replied “Apparently so. What exactly would she do to me if she was 10 years younger?” Their faces turned so red, they almost turned purple!
85. Ladies and Germs
I can speak German. At my job in a museum, there was once a group of people who came in. However, they didn’t come to see the museum. They just came to sit on our benches, throw a soccer ball around, and act generally as one does outside having a picnic—not sitting inside a museum. I asked them to stop throwing the ball around and to be a little quieter. Their reaction made my blood boil.
They didn’t really respond and kept on doing what they were doing as if I didn’t exist. I then hear one of the girls say in German: “That woman is so stupid. We can do whatever we want here, the ball won’t hurt anything.” I immediately snapped back into German “Yes, it can. Now, you need to either stop kicking the ball around or leave.” They looked horrified and left right away.
86. They Both Scream for Ice Cream
One time, a few years back, I was shopping at the grocery store when two people approached me and asked me in English whether I knew if the store sold ice cream packages. Since I was heading in that direction anyway, I thought I would do them a favor and walk them directly over to the section that they were looking for. They repaid me with total rudeness.
Once we arrived and they had found the ice cream that they had wanted, they instantly started speaking to one another in Swedish—extremely poorly, if I do say so myself, as Swedish is my native language. One of them said to the other, “How impolite that guy is! Instead of simply telling us what aisle the ice cream was in, he had to put on a whole show and act as if we forced him to take us all the way there!”
I just replied in Swedish, “Well, I was heading over there myself, so why the heck would I just tell you where it is?” Instantly, the two of them both turned pale, grabbed the ice cream, and hurried off as fast as they possibly could. But there was one more incredible thing. This was in Sweden. There was literally no reason for them to have assumed that I would not have spoken Swedish.
87. A Taste of Their Own Medicine
Back when I was living in Germany, a friend and I were in a little ice-creamery talking with each other in English. A pair of German teens said, in German, “Freakin’ Americans are so darn loud!” My friend had the perfect comeback. He said in English “Freakin’ Germans are so darn annoying!” He was trying not to laugh.
The teens then suddenly turned from their booth and asked in English, “What did you just say?” To which my friend, in perfect German, replied: “Oh sorry, I didn’t know you understood English!” The dirtiest look I’ve ever seen was exchanged before they stood up, ice cream in hand, and left the store. Good riddance, I say.
88. We Know What You’re Up to!
My wife, who is Norwegian by background, speaks no less than a dozen languages at varying levels of proficiency, and so I have more than my fair share of good stories about her understanding things that she wasn’t meant to. The best one, though, is from her time studying in Prague. She went out with some Czech friends one evening, all of whom were girls.
They ended up in a bar, at a table next to a group of Norwegian guys who were on a weekend party trip. The guys were somewhat drunk and, of course, they immediately started flirting with my wife and her friends, in the typical heavily-accented English spoken by most Norwegians. While flirting, they discussed amongst themselves the various physical attributes of each girl—but it gets worse.
They also talked about how promiscuous they each appeared to be, how they thought they’d each perform in bed, what they were hoping to do to them later that night (in graphical detail), “I’m so gonna score!” comments, and so on. My wife translated everything into Czech for her friends while this was going on. A lot of fun was had at both tables.
The Czechs got more and more flirty as the Norwegians bought more and more drinks, got bolder, and became more and more certain that they would all actually get what they were looking for later that night. After several hours of this, when the girls decided all of a sudden to rather abruptly end the evening, the Norwegian guys were all a bit confused.
They could not understand why the girls all seemed to have turned so cold in such a short amount of time. That’s when my wife dealt them the killing blow. She walked up to them and said, in perfect Norwegian: “Nice meeting you guys, good luck!” She then watched them all turn blood red, and left.
89. Strangers on a Train
I was on a train in Japan and two high school girls right next to me were talking about what it must be like to date a foreigner. I managed not to laugh when one of them said, “No way I’d do that, they’re all perverts!” When I left the train, though, I excitedly told them that their conversation had been very entertaining. The look on their faces was priceless.
90. Smarter Than the Average Bear
I’m a white-as-they-come American from the Midwest. I absolutely do not look like I speak any languages besides English. You know, like the stereotypical stupid American who thinks if I just speak English reeeaallllyy slowly and loudly everyone will suddenly understand me. But I’ve actually studied quite a few languages, including Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, Japanese, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.
But again, I really don’t look like I understand any of them. I’ve found that the best thing to do to catch people off guard is to keep a vacant expression on my face whenever people are talking around me as if I don’t have a clue what’s being said. One time, I was in Seoul, South Korea, just sitting around outside and relaxing. I had about 15 minutes before I had to go back inside and keep working, so I was just enjoying the day.
There were several Korean men standing around not too far from where I was sitting. They were just smoking, laughing, and talking. So, out of curiosity, I started listening in—oh, how I wish I hadn’t. They were talking about the “fat, stupid American man” sitting near them. They were hurling lots of insults and making fun of my character, intelligence, and looks.
I didn’t let on that I understood a single word of what they were saying. I just sat there minding my own business and if any of them looked over at me, I just innocently smiled at them. When it was time for me to go back inside to work, I walked past them and, in Korean, told them that not all Americans were as stupid as they seemed to think.
The look on their faces when they realized I had been listening to everything they were saying about me was one that still makes me smile whenever I remember it.
91. Judging a Book by Its Cover
My friend’s son speaks fluent Spanish, but has white skin—so when he brought his wife’s minivan in to get it detailed, the Spanish-speaking people cleaning it were all going on and on about how stupid and dirty they thought this guy was, and how he should make his kids clean the van up instead. But that was just the beginning.
Then, they went on and on about how cheap Americans are and how they probably wouldn’t even be leaving a tip for all the hard work they were doing. When they were done with their work, my friend’s son went right over to thank them, let them know how much he appreciated the job they did and gave them a large tip—all in Spanish so that they knew without a doubt that he had understood every word they had just said.
92. Fly Me to the Moon
I am an unassuming white girl who also happens to speak fluent Mandarin. When I went to China one year, I had a dark revelation. Many of the locals had no problem being rude if they thought that you couldn’t understand them. I think the most interesting thing that has happened as a result of this was when some people were making fun of me at the airport, having no clue that the nice smiling white girl knows Chinese.
93. Was It Worth the Wait?
I’m Norwegian, but was on vacation in London one year and was on my way out to the subway and waiting for a lift. Standing with my girlfriend, we overheard two girls who were waiting behind me for the train talking about me in Swedish, which I understand. They were talking about how hot I was and how they would definitely be down to sleep with me if I asked.
But they didn’t stop there. They went on to say that my girlfriend was not in my league and that I didn’t know how hot I was. When the lift arrived, I turned around and thanked them in Norwegian for the compliments, but added that my girlfriend was far better looking than either of them were. They decided not to get on the train with us.
94. Put on a Happy Face
Spanish speaker here. One time, I was with my family ordering food at a Mexican restaurant, and I overheard the waiter in training as he frantically tried to tell his senior that he was worried about his English not being good enough to communicate with the customers. He was very nervous and felt that he wasn’t ready to try. The next part warmed my heart.
I turned around and told him not to worry, as I spoke Spanish and would be happy to help translate for my monolingual mother. He got very excited and thanked me. I ended up chatting with him for quite a while and told him to not get discouraged—if I could learn Spanish in Mexico, he could learn English in the United States.
I also told him that most people would be more willing to help than he might think, so he need not worry. I think I definitely helped to make him feel at least a little bit better.
95. Sandwiched Between Two Interpreters
I speak Farsi (Persian). While in college, I was waiting in line at Subway to order lunch one day and there were these two other Persian guys behind me complaining about the girl in front of me taking too long to order her sandwich. Then it got really bad. They began to comment on how hot she was and all of the naughty things they’d both do to her.
One of them said something like “I wouldn’t mind licking some of that sweet onion sauce off her body.” I’m just standing there smirking, fully aware that these guys have no idea that I know exactly what they’re saying. She finishes her order, pays, and, as she is about to leave, she turns to the guys behind me and gets her sweet revenge.
She says in Farsi, “Your mothers would be ashamed to hear the way you talk about women!” before walking away. I was just as surprised as they were—but the difference was that they looked mortified while I was trying my absolute hardest not to double over with laughter. I ordered my sandwich and, on my way out, I smirked at them and said in Farsi “She’s right, you know!”
I made sure to take a glance back to catch their returning looks of utter horror as I walked past them and out of the store.
96. The Friendly Ghost
I live in Taiwan, but I am not originally from here. One time, I was walking down an aisle in a Costco here and there was a five-year-old kid sitting in a shopping cart, who pointed at me and yelled in Chinese “Look dad, a white person!” So, once the dad walked away from the cart, I came closer to the kid and whispered to him in Chinese “I know I am white, but thank you for pointing it out for everyone else” and walked away.
My friends were walking right behind me and said that the kid’s face looked as if he had just seen a ghost.
97. Elevator Music
My friend once got into an elevator in Korea with a couple of North American guys. She’s Korean-Australian but doesn’t speak a lot of Korean. The two guys spent the whole elevator ride talking about how hot she was and what they’d like to do to her. Then, one of them wondered aloud about how funny it would be if she spoke English. Her reply was legendary. She got off first, turned, and said, “Is it still funny?”
98. A Hole in One
I’m English by background and I speak a passable level of Spanish. I once overheard a guy say to his friends that he wanted “to touch every hole on that girl’s body, including her nose.” There was one problem. He was referring to my girlfriend. I couldn’t stop laughing, while my non-Spanish-speaking girlfriend was just confused and bewildered.
99. Giving Him the Finger
When my 6’4” tall, white-as-snow brother was our province’s ambassador to Hokkaido, Japan, he and a Japanese speaking friend from back home went to visit a castle on a trip through Honshu. This friend was a cowboy back home and had lost two fingers in a roping accident. He also had tattoos on his arms. In Japan, usually only the Yakuza, a criminal organization similar to the mafia, have tattoos.
They also have a tradition of cutting off the tips of certain fingers, moving down the joints as they move up in the organization. Anyway, as my bro and his friend were visiting the castle grounds, a youngish looking Japanese man took offense at seeing two white monsters in his country, so he began yelling at them.
He then showed them that the tip of one of his fingers had been removed, and said that they had better be careful around him. He was almost certainly assuming that they wouldn’t know what he was saying and thought he was just messing with some tourists. Little did he know, my brother was actually quite fluent in the local dialect.
He told him to be respectful of guests to his country. But then he really gave it to him. Suddenly, my brother’s friend rolled up his sleeves to show off his tats and then waved his two-fingered hand in front of the man’s face. Apparently, the man turned quite pale real fast, then bowed down as low as he could go while still standing, and eventually backed away.
100. Rest in Pieces
I was a peace corps volunteer in Vanuatu. I contracted malaria while I was there. I was in tremendous physical pain and agony. The doctor told one of the other doctors in Bislama: “He only has 5% malaria in his blood! I would be on my feet playing football if I were him!” I groaned and said: “I speak Bislama. Give me drugs!”
101. An American in Paris
I speak French. Visiting France and spending time in Paris was wild. As an American, it felt like I had these kinds of experiences on a daily basis. People just assumed that I was a moron and couldn’t possibly speak French or understand them. I’ll never forget the worst incident. It was when the friend who I was there to visit brought me to a party.
After what I had thought was simply just a really boring conversation in poor English with the host, because at this point I just went with whatever language someone started speaking to me, my friend came over and the host started telling him, in French, that I seemed really uncool and stupid. So, without missing a beat, I blurted out in French “Well, your English sucks!” (which was true).
Anyway, the host tried apologizing and this clearly made me look cooler or something, I dunno. It was really pretty snotty and there was really no recovering from that for either one of us, so we left shortly after. The worst part is that I am French-American/French-Canadian, so I’m just like “Word, worst mother culture ever!”
102. The Special Treatment
This is more of a positive kind of story. I overheard an old Japanese lady here in Brazil selling yakisoba at the farmer’s market and talking in very broken Portuguese with a heavy Japanese accent. I walked up to her and start talking in Japanese, which made her super impressed. But that wasn’t even the best part. I got so much extra stuff for free on top of my yakisoba meal that day!
103. Talking Turkey
I’m an American who lived in Turkey for two years. When I first moved there, I had taken Turkish 101 and 102 classes to become competent in the language. One time, while there, I was negotiating with street vendors for something that I wanted to buy. As they babbled amongst each other trying to rip me off, I surprised them all by making a super lowball offer in Turkish. The look on their faces was pure gold.
I got the deal I was looking for, as they were super embarrassed and felt bad.
104. Anxious to Get Away From This Guy
I’m not bilingual per se, but I can understand quite a bit of Spanish and speak a limited amount of it. One time, I was at a quinceañera with a friend and was having a really bad anxiety day. One of the middle-aged men sitting at the same table as us was outright talking about me in Spanish, saying that I had crazy eyes and exclaiming that there was probably something wrong with me.
My friend told him that I could understand what he was saying, and he just went instantly quiet.
105. The Old Switcharoo
One time, I was in Barcelona and I overheard these stuck up Spaniards talking trash about me. So, I nonchalantly went up to them, started an innocent conversation in English, and then, when they weren’t expecting it at all, they got their what was coming to them. I started aggressively chewing them out in fluent Spanish. The looks on their faces were priceless.
106. I Know You Are, But What Am I?
My cousin Raphael who speaks Farsi was once in a mall and he saw this Persian woman yelling at her son and telling him “Don’t eat so much or you’ll get fat like that man.” It took him a second to realize the disturbing truth. She was gesturing directly towards my cousin. So, my cousin responded in Farsi, shouting out “Don’t call me fat! You’re fat!”
It’s so gratifying to see the horrible look on someone’s face when they realize that you just heard and understood everything they said.
107. Careful Lady!
So I’m a white Caucasian female, but I am fluent in Mandarin Chinese and English. Now, looking at me, you wouldn’t know I can speak Mandarin, which is why I find it absolutely hysterical to mess with people. Especially when they come through my line at work speaking Chinese, and I understand every word they’re saying. My coworkers find it especially hysterical.
Okay, so the other day this Chinese couple came through my line, and I asked them (in English) all of the usual questions about bags and if they had their rewards cards, all of that fun stuff. Anyway, I started ringing up their stuff, and the wife said to her husband, “Tell her not to bruise the bananas,” in Chinese and I didn’t say anything.
Then the wife said, “Tell the stupid girl to go faster,” in Mandarin. I smiled at her and pretended like I had no idea what she was saying. She kept commenting on how my hair was like a boy’s (I have short hair, it’s honestly not even that short) and how her grandfather would have gone faster than I was going, all of this in chinese.
And then she said, “Make sure she doesn’t forget the water,” in Chinese. I replied in English, “I won’t forget the water.” And I watched with enjoyment as a look of sheer terror spread across her face, as she realized I understood everything she had said before. She just stood there with her mouth open and her husband said (in Chinese), “This is why you shouldn’t trash talk employees while they’re standing right in front of you!”
I replied (in English), “He’s right, you know.” They paid, then the husband apologized and left. After they walked out the door, my manager and coworker and I were laughing so hard. Even though being a cashier sucks, it sometimes makes my day a little brighter when something like that happens. #LANGUAGEGOALS
108. Lecturing Them
I have a great story from a lecture I was at a few years ago. The lecture hadn’t started yet, and people in the audience were chatting amongst themselves. In front of me were two Israeli girls, chatting to each other in Hebrew. I speak a little bit of Hebrew—not a lot, but enough to be able to get the gist of what they were talking about.
They were making fun of the older lady in front of them, mocking her clothing and appearance and so on. They got what was coming to them. After a few minutes of talking about her and laughing, the lady turns around and says, in Hebrew, “You shouldn’t assume that no one can understand you, you know.” Oh, but it gets better.
At which point the guy sitting next to them says, in Hebrew, “Yeah, you really were being very rude.” At which point a third person, a woman sitting in the row behind me, leaned forward and called them idiots, all in Hebrew. By this point, I was starting to really crack up with laughter and the people seated nearby were giving me looks.
I didn’t have anything clever to add, so I just wheezed out that I spoke Hebrew too in between laughs. The four of us just laughed and laughed, while the two girls tried to slide into the floor.
109. Putting on a Show
One time, I was at the theater waiting for a play to begin in my home city (São Paulo, Brazil) and there was a group of teenage girls next to us who were making fun of everyone around them in French. I just stayed quiet. Until they crossed a horrific line. They started to talk about my mother. Oooooooh no you don’t.
They were not talking about anything in particular, just about her general appearance. Nevertheless, they were describing it in a fairly unflattering way. My mom speaks no French, but I do. It may be just a broken French, but I certainly understood what those girls were saying. My mom got really confused when I turned to her and said, loud and clear “Cettes filles croient qui personne lês a comprise. Connardes.”
Which means “These girls believe that no one can understand them. Idiots.” All of a sudden, they all turned blue, purple, and red. They were not from France, but they were smart alecks who thought that they were the only people in São Paulo who knew how to speak French. And nobody messes with my mamma.
110. And Now, We Wait…
I speak quite a bit of Polish, and we recently got these twin boys on exchange from Poland coming to the high school that I work at. When they first arrived, everyone was fascinated by them and how kind they were; the girls were all basically pouncing on them. Then, one day, while I was in the lunch hall, they sat with some girls at the table I was sitting at.
This was the day I found out the dark truth about them. Just before I got up to go and put my lunch tray in the kitchen, I heard one of them whisper “brzydka dziewczyna” to the other one, which means “ugly girl.” When the girl asked what he said, he told her that he’d just been describing how beautiful she was. Liar, liar!
Of course, I was very mad seeing this, because he had clearly called this girl ugly and then lied straight to her face. I’m still deciding how I want to let them know that I understood that—and I’m waiting for the perfect moment to attack…
111. Pardon My French
I mean, I live in Canada and I’m half French Canadian, so I have lots of stories about this kind of thing happening. Nevertheless, the best one was kind of the reverse. My dad did something so horrible, it caused a public scene. He once yelled out to me in the middle of a crowded grocery store that he was “Bleeding from [his] butthole and had to go to the bathroom!”
He did it in French, thinking that no one around him would understand. Like, literally no fewer than three people overheard him. They immediately turned around with awful looks on their faces as he uneventfully walked away. Why my father came to the conclusion that nobody would happen to understand French in Canada, I’ll truly never know.
I just shrugged the whole thing off. What can you do? The guy has hemorrhoids and no sense of shame—it’s not my fault! Either way, all those poor people now have to live with that image from now on…
112. So Much for the Language of Love
Friend of mine divorced his then-wife because she would only speak French when her family would come over. She was Spanish, as was her family. To add, her family spoke English, French, and Spanish; he could only speak Spanish and English. She got bored of being married to him, her family basically talked smack about him while he was there, was only when he recorded a conversation while they were there and got it translated he found out what was going on.