I wasn't intending to listen in, but that's what happens when you're trapped in a supermarket, waiting on someone who's blocking the aisle and picking through cans of soup while jabbering on her cell phone about someone else's latest indiscretion.
"Go for the chicken noodle and move on already," is what I want to say. But I don't, because patience is a virtue and the conversation has suddenly become more intriguing.
The indiscretion, evidently, was a doozy.
I am an accidental eavesdropper, so why not just go with the flow, I figure. Particularly when I'm sitting at a stoplight listening to the young people in the next car dropping F-bombs in formidable fashion.
It's amazing how many obscenities can be fit into one complete sentence. Un-blank-ing believable, in fact.
But that's not nearly as pleasant as the two elderly women at the blood-drawing lab who were chatting about how the waiting room was way too chilly and, "Can you believe the price of gas?" Before long they were trading stories about the Great Depression and lamenting about how the kids these days have no idea.
I was born well after the Great Depression so I have none of those memories to share. But my parents and grandparents lived through it, so I'm well-versed in hard-luck stories and the clever ways they learned how to make do.
I know how the cold can get to you, especially after discovering that my stiffening fingers and aching hips can predict a subtle drop in barometric pressure or the arrival of a sweeping cold front.
Pumping gas irks me, too, as I try to figure out how I'm going to stretch my shrinking paycheck to cover the rising cost of that and just about everything else.
And yes, there are times when I grumble about the kids these days and how they have no idea.
But youthful abandon has its place on the human growth chart. And isn't it a parent's wish, after all, that the quality of their children's lives be better than their own?
So why lament that it is?
Even so, I've got a feeling that their time is coming.
Payment will come due for the trillion or so that is being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Add to that the stimulus package and the bailouts for Wall Street and American automobile companies with the exception, of course, of the Ford Motor Co. This week's "bright spot" posted a third-quarter, $1 billion profit after benefiting from the "Cash for Clunkers" program and some cost-cutting methods that included slashing 5,000 jobs. And by the way, they're still billions of dollars in debt.
Then comes the release of a study showing that at one time or another, half of American children will live in households that are subsidized by food stamps. That number increases to 90 percent for African-American children, according to the sociologists from Washington University and Cornell University who conducted the study. Given the recession and the current economic outlook they say it could very well end up being even worse than that.
And the kids these days — they have no idea.
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 869-6251.