True Tales of the Gallery Benches
Saturday June 21st 2008
Many years ago (around the early nineties) I was meeting up with a couple of friends in the city. We'd arranged to rendezvous outside the State Art Gallery, which is just across from the main train station and linked to it by a wide pedestrian overpass. It was a bright, sunny day and (as is usual on bright, sunny days in the city) the whole parade of human life was passing back and forth between the gallery and the station, the public benches opposite the main gallery doors being an ideal location to both meet friends and discretely people-watch at the same time.
I arrived first and took a seat. After a short while one of my friends turned up. We sat around talking our usual brand of nonsense while waiting for the third member of our group to arrive. He was running a bit late and we had ample time to study and comment on the people passing back and forth about twenty metres in front of where we sat.
One passer by in particular caught my eye. He looked like a typical businessman with his well pressed business suit, designer sunglasses and briefcase. What particularly caught my notice however was the wire running from his briefcase up to a pair of earbuds. This may be a common sight now but in the early nineties it looked slightly eccentric, so I drew the attention of my companion to him and facetiously commented "You see that guy? I reckon he's got a microphone in that briefcase and he's listening to everyone's conversations".
The man stopped dead. His head swung around and he gazed at us for a few moments with a look of barely concealed horror before rushing off at an extremely brisk walk, glancing back at us once or twice before vanishing around the entrance to the gallery carkpark.
My friend and I looked at each other in mute shock for a few seconds before breaking into gales of hysterical laughter.