For over a week, I had been trying fruitlessly to capture a picture of the creepy cleaning guy at work. One night last week, I tried four separate times but my asshole flash went off, blowing my cover; twice he and I locked eyes, me frozen like a deer for an excruciating moment of timelessness, before finally pivoting and running away.
I tried over-the-shoulder shots, from-the-hip shots as I (probably very conspicuously) paced in front of the cleaning office, through-the-window shots which only resulted in the flash ricocheting back and blinding my eyes.
It was hard to stalk him this week, due to my lack of vision, but my luck changed last night.
Toward the end of the shift, I heard Eleanore in the kitchen saying hello to someone. When she came back to her desk with a cup of coffee, I hoarsely whispered, “Was that him??” She laughed and nodded. I was so angry that she didn’t even try to stall him! I ran out into the hallway by the loading dock and I noticed that his big wagon of garbage bags was parked at the far end of the hall.
I ran back inside.
“Bob! Pretend like you’re getting something out of the vending machine so I can act like I’m taking your picture,” I ordered. So Bob and I went back out into the hallway and loitered in front of the vending machines, waiting for the cleaning guy to return to his wagonmobile.
“I don’t think he’s coming back. You’re going to have to just go look for him,” Bob said, tired of standing around like an asshole.
So we went back inside.
Shortly after, one of the security guards — a friendly young man named Aaron — came over to say hello. I decided it was time to recruit new reinforcement, so I told him what I was trying to accomplish.
“Oh, you mean Bill?” he asked, laughing. “You know what to do? Throw some paper on the ground. He’ll have to stop and pick it up and that’ll afford you some time to take his picture.”
Best idea ever.
I grabbed an empty package of peanuts from my desk and told Collin, Bob, and Eleanore that Aaron agreed to go on watch for me.
“What’s he going to do? Whistle when he sees him?” Collin would not take any part in mission. But I know he’s secretly sad that he’ll soon be missing out on the shenanigans.
I offered to start sending him a newsletter and he was like, “Of what? All the weird things you say?” Then he tried to recall a time I said something normal, and came up short.
Ignoring him, I ran back out into the hall, looked around frantically, and tossed the trash in front of the vending machines. If there was a surveillance video of me, it’d be a ridiculous montage of me side-stepping, ducking around corners, crouching down, peering through windows with cupped hands, and fleeing with my hands up and waving.
“He’s not a rodent, you know,” Bob said, accelerating my giddiness when I came back to my desk to wait for Aaron’s signal.
Unfortunately, one of the other cleaning guys picked up the peanut bag, so I replaced it with a crumbled sheet of notebook paper.
I waited for hours (probably 20 minutes, really) and just when I was about to give up, I heard the gentle squeaking of a wheeled garbage can, followed by the swishing sound of a broom against carpet. Standing on my tiptoes, I peered over the edge of our divider wall and spied the top of Bill’s head from over top of someone’s cubicle.
“Hey Bob,” I said loudly. “Now would be the PERFECT time for me to take that picture of you.” He looked at me, confused. “You’re the only one here I don’t have a picture of!” I enunciated each word and widened my eyes, hoping Bob would catch on.
“Oh. Okay. Where do you want me to stand?” I pointed to the area right by where Bill was about to emerge and Bob said, “No, that’s a stupid place—oh, unless I’m just a decoy?” I ended up not needing Bob anyway because Bill walked right past us and started going down another corridor in between cubicles. I hurriedly snapped two pictures.
“Here I thought you actually wanted my picture,” Bob said, pretending to be hurt. But I think he really was crying A LOT on the inside.
“Oh Bob, if you only knew how many pictures I have of you that you don’t know about,” I said with a wave of my hand. He probably thought I was kidding BUT I WASN’T.
I ended up getting more pictures of Bill later as he was helping himself to a cup of coffee. I felt very satisfied by the end of the shift. Another chapter closed.