If you feel the urge to eavesdrop on a mobile telephone call then may I suggest you visit the 'No mobile telephone' zone at the Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland's domestic airport? Every time I sit there I can put money on the fact that some man - well, it usually is a man - will be gasbagging away, oblivious to the fact he is mere centimetres from a prominent sign depicting a mobile telephone with a great big slash through it.

Of course, the word eavesdrop is not quite right, implying as it does some desire on the part of the listener to hear to the call. When in close proximity to others in public spaces such as airport lounges we are, in fact, forced to listen to one side of the telephone conversation whether we like it or not.

I'm not fond of conducting my discussions so that fellow travellers are privy to the mundane details of my life.

The only time I can remember taking a phone call in an airport lounge was at Christchurch last year and I immediately toddled off to a telephone booth so I could conduct my business in private.


Remember telephone booths? Reminiscent of Superman movies and Maxwell Smart television programmes, they seem such a quaint notion now - especially since many people are happy to wantonly inflict their conversations on others.

Last September I was in the Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland's international terminal and a man sitting immediately behind me made a series of telephone calls.

He was ringing up candidates who'd been unsuccessful in a job application with his small New Zealand law firm. It struck me as a rather unprofessional way to operate. What if I knew one of the people he asked for when he called? What if I was their current employer and discovered they were looking for another job?

It seemed like sloppy behaviour especially from a representative of a law firm which surely ought to place a high value on confidentiality and discretion.

Waiting for my flight to Queenstown last month I sat in the 'No mobile telephone' zone and on one call I heard how a Wellington man, a graduate of Victoria University, had enjoyed a meal at Euro restaurant with colleagues the previous night. His next call was to a marketing manager to whom he advised the names of the two large companies he planned to target for his next job.

Earlier this month, while waiting for a flight to Napier, I decided I'd had enough of enforced eavesdropping so I chose to sit in the main part of the lounge.

Of course, as luck would have it, I sat right beside a man - seriously, it's always a man - whose mobile phone may have been surgically attached to his ear.

He made a call about his company - the name of which he slowly spelled out so there was no confusion for anyone else in the lounge - in which he discussed directors and shareholders and what month he needed to file his annual return.

On a separate call he discovered his firm was "tracking second in emerging markets" which I gathered was good news.

The moral of this story is to think twice before making unguarded phone calls in public places - especially airport lounges.

You have no idea who could be sitting beside you.