My meeting was across Route 50 at an ancient mall that was probably as old as the apartments I lived in. Supposedly it was once a high end, high dollar shopping mall. Now it was discount clothes, a Barnes and Noble, which amazingly to me continued to hang in there, and a Home Depot. The rest of the stores were either empty or going to be soon.
An excellent example was the Cupcake place. What possessed someone to open a franchised cupcake shop that sold their product at $4.95 apiece was beyond me. Especially in this area. A taco stand would have a tough time making it here. A shitty tasting cupcake vendor was insane. I figured who ever it was who financed it, probably with equity from their house, was going to be sticking their head in their cupcake oven soon.
When I say across Route 50 it makes it seem like a simple enough walk. Cross four lanes of traffic, cut across a parking lot and I would be at Barnes and Noble where my client was supposed to meet me. No. Not around here. There was, at least until lately, so many people fresh off the boat living here who didn't understand American traffic patterns and how to cross a road and live to make it to the other side that the County had chain fenced almost a mile of road. Then they had built a foot bridge across the highway and the fence supposedly channeled everyone onto the bridge. Nice theory. A million dollars was probably spent to save villagers who were probably chasing chickens down dirt roads two weeks ago.
Then Jose who was an expert in getting through fences took a pair of wire cutters to it. "Why walk that far when I can make my own shortcut?" was the reasoning. So Jose and his family continued to get flattened by soccer moms driving SUV's and chatting on their cell phones. The bridge was never used and the area looked like a minimum security prison from all the fencing.
I took the long way. I liked the exercise and it made it tough for me to be followed. I didn't expect to be but life isn't about expectations and dreams. Life is a bitch that delights in blindsiding you. That was how I ended up walking across a pedestrian bridge to meet what was surely going to be another asshole. I once had a job with a government agency assisting in "renditions." Things happened and I was offered an 80% disability on mental health grounds. I took it. The alternative that was presented was not very appealing. The government was happy. I no longer had any credibility should I desire to talk about the "incident." If I did then they knew they could jerk the pension, smear me, and life would continue on. Or I would just disappear. I figured the odds were pretty good that it would be both.
The client knew nothing about me other than I came highly recommended. I knew everything I needed to know about the client including what he or she looked like. It wasn't hard. The basics were public domain. The numbers, balances, and how much of their life was front was cheaper than a good meal for two. The rest I would know in the first five minutes of our meeting. Depending on if I decided to take the job or not the next step would be the third part of doing my background discovery. If I took the job I would have the Internet and cell phone usage of the target run. I ran the first two on a potential client because it was easy and cheap. It also usually let me know what was driving them to call someone like me. The third report, and a little more digging always gave me the answer on how to do my job.