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SideLines: It's dumb, but someone has to do it

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 9:15 a.m. CDT

I do the dumbest things sometimes.

Or do I?

One day last fall, I went to interview someone in their home. If I interview someone at an event, like Pumpkin Fest, I just scribble in my notebook. If I do a sit-down interview, I usually tape record it. You really can’t do that when you’re standing up because it’s too awkward holding a tape recorder while trying to balance a notebook and a camera and whatever else you may be carrying.

In any event, I finished the interview, turned off the tape recorder and thanked him.

As I was walking to my car, I heard a very faint woman’s voice.

Turning around, I looked to see if the man’s wife, who had left the house when I got there, taking with her a couple of rather mean-looking pit bulls, was speaking to me. I figured I’d thank her as well and wave goodbye to be polite.

But I didn’t see anyone.

I got in the car, backed up and took off. To my surprise, I could hear the woman’s voice again. It still sounded very far away and almost tinny. The strange thing was it sounded like she was having a conversation with someone, but not with me.

Thinking it might be the radio, I checked to see if I had accidentally turned it down when I meant to turn it off.

But that wasn’t the case. It also wasn’t a CD playing very faintly.

I had only gone a little way when I heard the woman’s voice again, only this time she was talking to someone – me!  Like the woman, my voice was very faint and also sounded tinny and far away.

Still, there was no mistaking it was me.

For the life of me, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. In a split second I couldn’t help thinking: Is something out of this world happening? Or was I just starting to lose it? I’ve heard about people who hear voices; you just never figure it will happen to you.

Trying to be more practical, I asked myself: Was someone playing some kind of joke on me? And how could they? There was no one else in the car, my cell phone was off and I don’t have a walkie talkie or anything like that.

It didn’t help that it was close to Halloween and just the day before I had watched some kind of “Tales from the Crypt” marathon, putting all kinds of strange thoughts in my suggestible mind, which doesn’t need any encouragement to begin with.

Hearing both voices again, I looked down in the seat next to me, which is what I probably should have done in the first place. It was then that I noticed, nestled between my camera and camera bag, the tape recorder was still running.

Apparently, instead of turning the machine off, I had pushed the wrong button and it was playing back what was left of a previous interview.

Which begs the question: Is this a matter of me doing stupid things or of stupid things just happening to me?

If it’s me, I suppose the things I do aren’t any dumber than what anyone else does, it’s just that, instead of keeping them to myself like most normal people, I feel I have to write about them.

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