It could be hereditary, or an unfulfilled niche in my life.
We like saving/helping/fixing, and the more bad-ass the mission, the better.
Our latest (self-assigned) assignment was what drove us both to our laptops, frenetically but methodically poring over public records, social networking sites, and sex offender registries at 12:45 AM Wednesday night.
It all started in church on Sunday, when the newest class of New Members was applauded and introduced. One of the men was in his early 50s, gray at the temples, but not unpleasant looking.
My mom thought of her similarly single friend at the church, and leaned forward to whisper to another friend in the pew ahead of her.
"Hey, maybe there's someone for Sara to date?"
Her friend whispered back, "No. I don't think that would be a good idea."
"What? Why not?"
"Well, he's Tami's stalker."
"WHAT?!" she whispered hoarsely.
"I'll tell you at breakfast!"
So over breakfast, my mother's friend related how her daughter-in-law, Tami, had acquired the attentions of this man.
Tami works as a manager in a local coffee shop.
This man, whom we will refer to as SAM (Suspicious And Malicious), frequents this coffee shop. He is one of those people who actually works from the coffee shop as a consultant or some such nonsense job he can perform while taking up space in someone's business, arrogantly assuming his $2.50 Americano will suffice as rent payment for the day.
He is there so much he's a Regular, now.
And Regulars get to know the baristas, and the managers, and the other Regulars. But no matter your interminable presence, it is not polite to cross privacy boundaries in getting to know these people. You occupy a shared public space during the day; you buy coffee from them; you annoy them with your animated cell phone conversations, but other than that, it is generally acknowledged you keep to yourself.
SAM takes to talking to Tami. Further, he takes to hitting on Tami.
Tami makes it very clear that she is not interested: she is married, and happily so.
His passes persist.
She is more firm with him, and then he takes to hitting on one of the young baristas.
Tami consults with her own manager, and gets permission to start documenting incidents involving SAM.
His attentions get so aggressive that after enough recorded events, Tami has corporate permission to tell SAM he is no longer welcome at that location.
A few weeks later, Tami hears that he has started frequenting the shop again, but only on her days off.
She catches him one day, and he says to her, "Okay okay. Well, I've joined Mark's church. "
Tami balks. She narrows her eyes, tenses, and asks, "Excuse me?" This is the name of the pastor at our church. She presses him, "You mean Lakeview Christian?" He shakes his head, "No, Pastor Mark's church."
Tami processes this information with a steely exterior, betraying no sign of recognition or disturbance. She walks away.
Later that evening, she and her husband make a non-emergency call to the police.
"Oh, that guy? Ohhh yeah. We know about him. Lotta complaints about him. Thanks for letting us know, and please inform us of any further developments."
Then, Tami emails Pastor Mark.
She isn't quite sure what to say or insinuate, and doesn't want to falsely accuse or point a finger, but she also wants to feel safe in her own church, and relates the events to Pastor Mark.
Minutes after sending the email, he replies: "Can I call you?"
As soon as she writes back, "Yes," with her number, the phone rings.
Apparently SAM had raised the hackles of Pastor Mark and staff as well, and there was a sort of uneasiness about his new membership, as well as the rapidity with which he had gained it by taking all of the classes and commitments in a very short and intense timeline.
So with all of this information divulged over breakfast (at which I was not present), I can only imagine the fervor with which the wheels were turning in my Dad's head.
I can imagine them because they were turning in mine, as soon as he told ME all of this.
"I think we should check to see if he's a registered sex offender," Dad says.
"I'll check Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn....see what we can drudge up on him," I say.
We sit, typing and murmuring.
"OH!" I exclaim, "Got him! Is this him?"
Dad scrutinizes the face in the profile picture. We scan his About Me and Quotes sections, which are public, and full of slightly off-putting things for a grown man to include in a summation of himself:
"Ewwww" we both groan, rolling our eyes. This guy is officially a weirdo. Plus, of his 54 Facebook friends, 90% are single women with names like, "Sweet D," "Ava Chanel," "Baby Gurl." Their profile pictures are not safe for work.
"I have loved to the point of madness, that which is called madness, that which
to me, is the only sensible way to love"
"The moment people fall in love, they become liers" [sic]
"Life is short…………. Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile."
Upon further searching, we find a Flickr account full of pictures of his dogs. We search sex offender registries in Oregon and California.
My dad admits he actually went into the coffee shop where Tami works to see if he could spot the guy and get an ID on him. He found one obnoxious and aggressive guy, but decided it wasn't SAM... but that he didn't like that other guy, either.
Ultimately, we find nothing incriminating.
I think we're both a little disappointed, and sheepish about it.
But make no mistake, the world is safer because of our efforts.
At least, we'd like to think so.