Dropping Eaves

Today’s Daily Prompt brought back a memory:

We often hear strange snippets of conversation as we walk through public spaces. When was the last time you overheard something so interesting, ridiculous, or disturbing you really wanted to know what it was all about?

As you can imagine, I hear all kinds of conversational snippets while I’m working at the mall. Many are critiques of nearby window displays, others are snooty judgmental comments, plenty are entertaining parental admonishments.

But the one that immediately came to mind upon reading this prompt, although it did happen at the very same mall, is not a recent occurrence.

My best friend and I were sitting outside the food court one day, about fifteen years ago. A long-haired, kinda creepy dude in a typical creepy-dude trench coat came striding out of the mall, cell phone in hand. He paused about fifteen feet from us to put the phone to his ear and gruffly ask a single question.

“What’s the situation?”

My friend and I looked at each other and started to snicker, trying to prevent a full-fledged case of the giggles from overcoming us.

He was so serious, and yet so–theatrical. It was too much.

“Is it critical?”

We watched him take his long, pacing strides, boot heels tapping the pavement in a steady rhythm.

“Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Okay.”

He looked around, casually eyed us, and tapped into the parking lot.

The only information we gleaned from this encounter was the existence of some sort of situation.

To this day, we can still crack each other up with the utterance of a single question: what’s the situation?

But truly, I still wonder. What was the situation? And was it actually critical?