So, I go downtown to buy a book. Downtown Silver Spring is a 5 minute walk from our data center. It's a warm, slightly humid day, but I don't mind. I wander into Borders, with my "30% off, why don't you shop with us more? Is it something we said?" coupon. I go to the computer section, and was delighted they had ONE copy of the book I wanted, the "CompTIA Network + study guide." Yay. As I stand there with it under my arm, I make a mental inventory of other Network+ books out there.
"Hey," says a guy behind me. "You gonna buy that?" I turn around and face this tall dude who doesn't seem like the kind of person who would be in a book store, much less be interested in a Network+ certification study book. In fact, he kind of looked like he's a drifter of some kind. They used to be common downtown, but a few years ago, they really cleaned up the place, so these guys now stand out amid the scrubbed scenery. He was wearing a dirty tee shirt, old corduroy pants, taped-up shoes, and a knitted hat. His face is worn and slightly off center. He's got dreadlocks. He's skinny, but he's got HUGE hands.
"Yeah..." I said.
"So go buy it! Don't just stand there. You gonna buy it, buy it. You got the last one, but no matter."
Um... okay. Crazy man.
I wander off. At first, I thought, "I wonder if the store knows he's here?" I decided to go into the far section of the store, near junior adult titles and humor. I was reading a Dave Barry book, wondering if I already own it, when there he is again... across some low bookshelves, staring at me. Now I am starting to feel threatened. Sadly, my path has him between where I was and the registers. I thought about putting both books down, and just leaving out a second exit, but a voice in my head told me, "He's not after the book. He's after you."
Thaaaanks... voice in my head. That really helps.
So, trying to act nonchalant, I find a way to get out of his line of sight, and manage to double back so I went the long way around the junior adults section, past travel, and then back through their music selection. I think he tried to follow me, but quickly guessed what I was doing, so he stopped following myu path and stood at a T-intersection near the music section. I went around the magazine area, and then to the registers, but there he was. He didn't say anything, but stared at me. Then went behind me in line.
So the line moved quickly. I was in a position that if the guy tried to make a grab for my wallet or something, I was ready to grab his hand. I went to the register that said, "Next please," and sure enough, the guy followed me.
The cashier immediately sensed something was up, so she said, "One at a time, please."
"He's gonna buy this BOOK!" said the guy.
The cashier, a young pregnant woman with more Jheri Curl than was probably helpful to her unborn child, didn't even blink. "Uh huh... you gonna buy anythin'?"
"I'll watch and see how he do it."
"No, you gonna either buy something yo'self or git."
The man GLARED at me, and then stormed out of the store. And waited RIGHT by the front door, staring at me through the glass. When people tried to come in, he'd open the door for them and smile, as if to say, "See? I am courteous. You can't call the cops on me because I am polite."
"I suggest you exit through the Seattle's Best," the cashier said. That was an exit at the other end of the store, where a Starbucks clone (owned by Starbucks) sold coffee and scones and things. Luckily, I knew how to get back to my office the long way from there.
So I paid and left.
I walked DAMN fast back to work. Past Fresh Fields and around a parking garage. I walked to my block, and DAMN if the guy wasn't there across the street! I am not sure if he knew where I worked, but I booked like mad down to my office. He followed pace across the street, looking at the traffic to see when it was safe to cross.
At this point, I realized I left my Leatherman at work. Not that I'd whip out my blade, but the closed Leatherman makes a decent blunt tool to bruise joints and the like. The advantage to this is that people don't think a small metal bar can do much, but it can. There's a reason brass knuckles are illegal.
I have my RAZR...? I can take a photo of the guy! Yes!
No! I can't. That would mean stopping, fiddling with the settings, and trying to see the LCD menu in bright sunlight. And I had this sense to "Go go GO GO!"
Well, the traffic was on my side and didn't let up until I got to my building, which was at an intersection. He did this "fast walk" across the crosswalk, but I was already at my building door. I rushing into the lobby... and no guard! We usually have a guard with a gun or something!
So I went around the back where the smokers hang out, and took the freight elevator. Sadly, the freight elevator has two doors, and someone was waiting at the front. As the front door opened the same time the back door did, I watched through the glass lobby door, and the man was right there, doing the "I am such a courteous gentleman, I let people by and I hold the door," routine.
I hit the "close door" button and the doors closed before the people coming in could rush the elevator.
"In a hurry?" the woman asked me and she jaunted in. She was a middle aged, chatty woman who works at a TV studio on our building.
"There's a guy who followed me here, and I was afraid he'd come in the elevators." I realized I was out of breath.
"Oh..." replied the woman, as if I had told her I liked ice cream and she didn't have a response in her small talk database. "It's HOT outside," she said, resetting the conversation.
"It's not the heat, it's the humidity," I replied. I know the routine.
She perked up. "I can't wait to go home! Thank god it's Friday... right?"
Yeah... ha ha! Yeah...
I got off the elevator and told one of the managers here. He went down to the lobby to check it out, and reported the guy was waiting outside the doors. He said that he'd find a guard and talk to him.
So... that was my exercise for today...
Man... come to think of it, I wonder what I would have done with a photo of the guy? What was I thinking? Gees...