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Eavesdropper on New York's Oversharers

As those living in New York know, we’re a city full of the wild and wonderful. We work hard, play hard, and cry publicly from time to time. Above all, we have a tendency to share our problems and insignificant complaints with total strangers on a daily basis. Melbourne-born and Brooklyn-based Designer/Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Mete Erdogan puts pen to paper in different typefaces and brings those “private” conversations we “accidentally” love to hear in very public spaces to life. We talked to the designer, whose Instagram @_eavesdropper documents this uniquely New York brand of humor, about context, New York attitudes, and avoiding drunk mumblers.

Where do you mostly eavesdrop? Train in the morning? Drunk girls at bars?

My coworkers are definitely never lacking in amazing material, but they really come from absolutely everywhere; the subway, elevators, video game stores, different street corners. I don’t really target bars, but intoxicated people can certainly unleash proverbial gold! One thing I’ve noticed with this project, though, is that I never find an eavesdrop if I’m actively listening out for one—they catch you off guard, which makes them that much more exciting!

What is the weirdest thing you’ve overheard?

So much. One of my favorite weird ones was, "Our beef is 100% organically breast-fed." Less because of the lack of context and more because the woman who said it was so nonchalant about it. She didn’t bother to correct herself and no one around her raised an eyebrow. It was a great example of that moment where you tune into the back end of a conversation and are laughing about whether someone’s finally going to acknowledge the weirdness of that dialogue.

Best quote ever?

That’s a big one! If only I could be everywhere… A quote that always makes me laugh is written in Sharpie above the toilet at Lucky Dog in Williamsburg. It reads, "’You go, girl.’ – Abraham Lincoln."

Generally who has the better quotes: guys or girls?

It varies, I’ve never really seen it as gender specific. The girls I’ve heard are definitely a bit more sassy, so the eavesdrops with more attitude tend to be inspired by women. (Case in point: "You can’t just eat octopus from a fucking buffet in New York!") A good portion of the quotes that I’ll jot down from men tend to be these funny, contemplative observations, things like, "Soup is just cereal you can have for dinner." What’s always most interesting to me is someone’s raw, instant response to what’s going on around them—this pure stream of consciousness.

After hearing and observing all these quotes from New Yorkers, have you been able to make any generalizations about people’s attitudes? Are they always talking about similar things?

New Yorkers definitely have no qualms about voicing their thoughts, but I’ve been taking submissions from around the world. Topics about our basic needs come up a lot but the interesting part is peoples’ take on them. I hear a lot of conversations about food, sex, money, work and self-observation. I think that’s what makes _eavesdropper intriguing, it addresses what’s on all our minds in a different way.

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