My co-worker came into the office this morning

on

“That man you described at the gate. Is he always this friendly?”

“Umm…yeah he’s been friendly for five years.”

“Is he a customer, a friend, a neighbor, or a local authority figure?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not a hundred percent sure. But…I think a local authority figure.
Probably a friend. I’ve never seen him face-to-face.”

“Yeah, there’s a chance he’s a local police officer,” my co-worker said. “Or a
military type, a firefighter. Probably a neighbor. You know how sometimes when
the weather gets really bad, it’s like everybody’s friend, but not everybody
knows who they really are? Like for a short period of time? I was thinking the
guy who tapped on the glass this morning – he’s probably some random person
from the neighborhood.”

“You think so? Maybe,” she said with a little suspicion. Though I can’t
recall if I made her repeat the “any” or not.

“There’s this guy, he’s always hanging around the train station,” my
coworker said with a little fear in her voice. “I don’t know why he’s always
just hanging around there. He never comes with anybody, but I always see him
sticking to a certain side.”

“You think he’s a snitch?”

“A snitch?” my coworker spat. “No, that’s ridiculous. Anyone could take a
photo of me and post it on the internet.”

“Are you sure he isn’t a police officer or a neighbor?” The same question
that was on my mind.

“What do you mean ‘anyone could take a photo of me?’” she asked. “How many
photos of you can there be?”

“Enough,” I sighed. There was only one solution to this problem, and
it would be to simply give the person a way out. But I couldn’t do that and
get away with it, and I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t keep
quiet about. He was from the neighborhood, like my coworker said, and I had to
know who he was.

“I don’t know,” she said. “But I’ve been really lucky. One other person has
a problem with him.”

“Who?”

“A woman. She was just sitting by the train station, when he was on his way
out the door and I saw her standing there.”

“Do you know her?” I asked.

“I met her once in a coffee shop. I don’t know if she works there. I just
met her in the coffee shop and I don’t even remember her name.”

“Oh,” I said, thinking about the coffee shop. That meant that this woman
probably wasn’t the one who tapped the glass. Either he was a random person
from the neighborhood who just happened to be sitting by the station. Or my
coworker was right, and this guy was snitch-ish. That would make it better.

But on the very same day I found out about my new coworkers, I found out that
I was not the only person at the company to have a problem with him.

A few days later, the morning shift came in, and I saw two guys sitting in
front of me, two guys who I didn’t know, but they were the two guys I was
having trouble with in the coffee shop.

“Excuse me,” I said, “Could I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” my coworker agreed and moved her cup to the other side of her desk.
These two guys were definitely locals.

“I can’t believe how this city is so…unfriendly,” one of them said, with a
tear in his eyes. He was a man in his forties and about eight years younger
than me.

“You don’t like our city?” I asked him.

“Well, it’s like a big bad bully in the school yard.”

“I’d take that as a compliment,” I said. “I don’t know what I like about
Newton, though. I mean, there’s nothing left here, except for a coffee shop
in the middle of Newton.”

“That’s not true. There are new businesses opening all the time.”

We talked for a minute or two, and then he said, “I want to show you a
picture.”

“If you like, we can use the computer and talk on Skype right now,” I
suggested.

“Great,” he said. “Let’s go.”

“Hey, Angie said you’ll be working the night shift.” I pointed at the woman
I’d worked with that morning.

“Oh, yeah. It’s kind of weird because I haven’t been here in a month,” he
said. I hadn’t heard him mention Angie. I wondered why he hadn’t.

“Hey there,” he said, “Are you Angie?”

“Yep,” she said.

“How about you?” he asked. I wondered, why didn’t he introduce himself to
me like he did to Angie?

“Natalie.”

“Ah,” he said, staring at me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is
Cameron.”

“And you are…?”

“Dillon. I’m an ex-cop.”

“Ex?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Ex-cop.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, I guess it’s good you quit the force. I don’t think
that would have been my reaction.”

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