Monday, April 1, 2013

eavesdropping laughter

eavesdropping laughter

Although I struggled to allow myself to eavesdrop in public places and listen to what induces laughter, I let my guard down and listened in on some conversations. I paid extra attention to what induced the most laughter and found there are many more catalysts other than just a joke or humorous situation. 

While sitting in the airport on my heading home to Albuquerque for Easter break, I realized that people these days (maybe just grumpy travelers) complain, a lot. I was listening intently to all the people I came near to hear what they were laughing about. No one was laughing! It was compliant after complaint, grumble grumble. I understand traveling can often be a tiring and frustrating process, but c'mon, laugher makes everything better! 

I found it rather disappointing and sad that it took so much effort for me to hear a conversation that included laughter; laughter is the best medicine, right?

While sitting in the airport, it is only obvious that you will witness a traveller sprinting through the terminal, or a heated complaint at the traveller's desk about a late flight, or missing a connecting flight. An airport really is one of the best spots to eavesdrop and people watch...humans are very peculiar beings, especially when under a bit of stress.

One of the main catalysts of laughter I recognized while sitting in the airport was the entertainment people found in others' travel frustrations.  When a person would be sprinting through the terminal, the cackling would begin and subtle comments like, "run" or "run little man, run!" would echo through my gate. Yes, I agree, it was funny. And I may have even made some small comments in my head... seeing some sprinting with a backpack on, bobbing up and down, while stringing along a rolling suitcase that is running over other's toes is quite a hilarious picture. But hey, I guess we have all been there a time or two.

While I was sitting at my gate, there was one plane ahead of me, waiting one one woman, attempting to take off in time. The lady felt the need to stop in at the restroom on the way to her gate while she was already 15 minutes late, and the WHOLE plane was waiting for her. When people sitting at the gate realized that the whole plane was waiting for just one woman, the chuckles and comments began. It almost seemed as if this type of laughter was rooted from disgust or shock at how ignorant the woman was. The flight attendants, especially, made numerous comments and laughed over the whole situation once the plane was finally cleared for departure. It was rather shocking how some people don't recognize the importance of timeliness or courtesy to others, and this realization spurred on much laughter for everyone sitting at my gate.

I believe the root of laughter can truly come from anywhere. We find humor in situations that are funny, and often situations that are overly frustrating or ridiculous. Laughter not only is a response to humor and funny situations, but serves as a relief from frustration and anger. Laughter also serves as a response of disgust or shock: how can that be happening?

The situation or location in which you eavesdrop or observe laughter can play a large role in what truly induces laughter; the same themes may run through the humorous situations, such as relief, funny situations, disgust, frustration, or shock. For instance, if I had been observing people at a zoo, much laughter would have come from the silly actions of the animals, or the horrendous smell the elephants put off! We as humans have a knack for finding the ironic or humorous moments in our daily lives.

After spending a lot of time laughing with my family this Easter weekend, I have been much more attentive to what makes people laugh. This weekend, much laughter came from happiness and the enjoyment of family traditions.

until our next laugh,



  1. Hi Amanda, Wonderful post. Sorry if listening to the conversations around you made you uncomfortable, but it's actually something we do all of the time. I did not realize some people laughed at other people's frustrations when traveling. But I guess traveling is such a worry anyway that travelers will laugh at anything.

  2. Hey Amanda! The airport definitely seems like the perfect place to eavesdrop/people watch. Seeing someone in a hurry is usually pretty entertaining but only when that person is not you (Superior Theory). After this assignment, I too have started to take notice of what brings people to laughter. Thanks for the story!