The corner of her jeans pocket was frayed and worn from the pocket clip on the pen she kept there constantly sliding on and off. Always writing. Never without her pen. You could find her every day at any one of the several coffee shops she shuffled between. Buying coffee, watching people, taking notes, taking up space for as long as friendly society would allow and then off the the next shop to do it all over again. She blended in. Anyone who saw her probably didn’t remember or assumed she was just another writer working on her script. That’s what I thought the first time I realized I’d seen her several times without realizing it. Then I started watching her and saw that couldn’t have been any further from the truth. She wasn’t looking for ideas, she was documenting the customers. Building out detailed profiles on specific people. She had different pages for each person and would add to the page every time she saw them. Were they wearing different shoes? What band and color. Did they have a bag? Did it have a laptop? What kind of phone were they thumbing, and what apps had their attention. Were they alone or with company. She knew things about these people they probably didn’t realize, and all of this without any technology to support her. No wide reaching hack or surveillance system. She just watched and took notes.
Innocent enough I supposed until I followed her one day. Her long day of coffee shop bouncing ended in the back parking lot of a church downtown. She, and apparently several other people with similar notebooks. They go there and hand the notebooks to a guy who photographs every page. Every day.