Workplace harassment? A cell phone conversation

As I sit here in my second floor apartment, I can clearly hear what goes on in the street, or on the sidewalk.

Lately things have gotten louder and more insistent, because people communicate so regularly on cell phones, and do it as they walk down the streets. (A guy who lives across the street emerges every day to smoke and talk on his cell phone.) This is not a radical and new observation: that long-time protective barrier between the personal and the public has disappeared.

But this sort of enforced eavesdropping—I’m not pressing my ear to the window; indeed, the conversations are pressed into my usually irritated ears—does provide some intriguing shards of stories.

Just now, for instance, a women who stood right outside my building was yelling into her cell phone. “Harassment?!?” she yelled. “That’s a lie! How can he say I’m harassing him? I’ve been working for him for two years and all of a sudden he’s saying I harassed him? He’s come into my office …”

Part of me wanted to run outside and say, “Sounds like you’ve got a potential lawsuit,” and “That’s a good point you made, that he came into your office,” then to warn her that no matter how upset she was, it didn’t help her cause to be yelling about it, especially in the street. I’m thinking, “Just calm down or, rather, calm your voice down and make an appointment to see whoever you’re talking to…” And then I realized I wasn’t going to do anything of the kind.

She walked (she was with a friend) down the sidewalk and out of sight but I could still hear her yelling even louder.

It’s a mystery. Unless it’s a lawsuit that makes the Daily News, I probably will never know what happens.

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