Loud Talker Sighting
Saturday, May 24, 2003
So last Tuesday Rachel and I went shopping for some stuff at the Murray St. Giant Eagle (fyi for the non-yinzers, pretty much all supermarkets around here are Giant Eagles). Walking down the sidewalk back toward the car, we heard this guy yelling, I mean really yelling, about two blocks away.

At first, I thought it was a fight in the making. I was reminded of one of the people I was most happy to leave behind in Berkeley, this guy who just roars incredibly loudly on Telegraph, encouraging others to try to roar as loudly as he does, at least three times a week for 7 years. Anyhow, as this guy got louder, I spotted him: a guy yelling in to his cellphone. I was just wating for him to break critical mass and fling the phone into a nearby building when, less than half a block away from us now, he yelled "OKAY! BYE!" and pressed the end-call button.

The wierd thing was that he wasn't mad at all. His phone conversation ended without a torrent of emotion, but still with a great deal of volume. It's hard to explain: He wasn't yelling in to the phone as though he was trying to make himself be heard through a faint connection, and he wasn't yelling (as it turned out once we could hear the context) in fury, but he was just yelling his words.

Rachel and I both looked at each other and talked the rest of the way to the car about how weird that was.

Today, walking down Walnut Avenue, Rachel and I heard someone yelling and, sure enough, here he comes down the street again, cellphone in hand on ear. In his wake he left a path of people turning to each other (even to nearby strangers) and whispering "what is that guy doing?" A few minutes later he'd turned around and passed by us on the sidewalk, still at full volume.

This time we were ready.

Keep in mind when watching this that the microphone in my camera is intended for close up use, and that to be heard when he's 20 feet away, and facing the opposite direction, he's actually a lot louder than implied in this clip.

Shopping in a nearby store, we heard him pace back and forth several more times over the next 20 minutes. Spectators speculated that he wasn't actually talking into the phone at all, and that his mock-tirade about multimillion dollar business deals was just a show. Me, I've seen a lot of crazy people who spout endless solliloquies off the cuff, and this guy seemed more natural than any of them, like he wasn't making anything up.

Still, just because there's actually someone on the other end of the phone doesn't make you any less of a freak. Thank god the guy sitting three rows behind us in X2 last night, whose phone went off five times during the movie wasn't such a loud talker, though even so, grrr.

The idea of picking up a cellphone jammer the next time I'm in Japan sounds more and more tempting...

Oh yeah, and I love my digital camera. Unexpected movies are the best.

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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
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