Thursday, April 07, 2011

I Spy

Something that happened yesterday made me realize I might have enough material for a whole new blog-post category: Confessions.

I was at a movie screening, and a critic next to me had his/her laptop open (keepin' it vague on purpose!). The seats in this particular theater are REALLY close together, and I found it pretty much impossible not to glance over at the glowing screen just inches away. An email program was front and center. I quickly scanned the "From" column (and saw a lot of names I recognized, too...) and the "Subject" column. I even peeked at a message my colleague was writing.

This is not the first time I've done such a thing. In fact, I don't remember having been in a situation where someone's laptop is right in my face and I HAVEN'T checked out what that person's working on. In airport lounges, on airplanes, on trains, in cafes and coffee shops -- there are tons of opportunities to take a look-see at others' work. Sometimes I've come to regret doing so -- like when a fellow traveler's watching an ultra-violent movie while seated next to me on a flight. Ooh, I didn't really want to see that guy get stabbed in the neck. Now I can't UNsee it. Crap.

It's not just laptops I steal glances at, either. Back in the summer of 2002 I was living in Boston and interning downtown at Fidelity. I would ride the very, very crowded "T" (subway) every day, and inevitably get smushed against other passengers. On one particularly hot and sweaty morning, I started reading an article another rider was holding up in front of him. The subject was some sort of medical study... and it was really, really graphic. I started feeling woozy. Then I announced to the countless other passengers that somebody better give up their seat because I was about to pass out. I did get to sit down... and then somehow found myself outside the train (but still underground) on the next stop's platform. A woman and her young son were with me and I was sprawled on the station's dirty floor.

"Here, have my son's juice box!" the lady offered. I took it. The kid stared at me, wide-eyed.

"Are you going to be OK?" the mom asked. I nodded, but before she headed on her way, she called a policeman over to ensure I would be able to stand.

Let me just say that I've done a lot of dumb things in my life and have made a fool of myself many times, but there are few instances I can recall where I felt AS stupid as I did that day. I eventually stood up, got on the next train, went into Fidelity's offices -- where the building's security guard noted that I looked "REALLY PALE" -- and then eventually shook the whole incident off a few hours later.

Obviously I didn't learn my lesson, though.

So does anyone else out there do this sort of thing -- read over others' shoulders... peek at nearby laptops... glance at documents someone else is reviewing? Please tell me I'm not the only one. Isn't this sort of curiosity just ingrained in our nature?

- e


Alex Yates said...

Great post e. The final image --the laptop sock--got a big belly laugh from me. Nice pull!

I'm shameless as well at peaking on other people's devices and am always disappointed, nothing juicy. I do wish public info sharing was more common (or less skeevey) because I invite feedback and often wonder who in a crowd might want to read my drivel or recap an article I just read that has my brain all wrinkly.

Unintended sharing episode: When my wife and I were sprinting through the Sopranos dvds from season 1 to the blank wtf ending, we had our laptop and dual headphones going on a flight. We completely forgot how graphic some of the sex (and murder) scenes were until the third passenger in our section got up to use the bathroom and a trio of guys were not so subtle in watching from behind us in the aisle our public porn we had on fuill display. Whoops. But if HBO soft porn keeps terrorists from rushing the cockpit, well, I'm not sorry.

Nick said...

I do this all the time on the Metro in DC. It's amazing how much Classified/Confidential stuff gets read out in the open on the Metro.

I'm sure this is rude of me, but if you don't want me reading your stuff, don't let me see it.