Until recently, I had never given the profession much thought. Except to dismiss it as a quaint second job whose existence had gone the way of zoot suits and switchboard operators.
|There's a reason you won't find too many color photos of these guys.|
|Yet despite my ignorance, I knew that a red Ferrari does not a good surveillance vehicle make.|
|Yup, I'm the lurker in the background of all your photos.|
In reality, it's neither. And definitely not all hazy bars and blowsy dames with legs for hours. Bad news written all over her like October of '29...
1. A waiting game of epic proportions.
|"Kind of eerie isn't it? Like looking into your future.."|
Because you're gross.
I bet you have some pee bottles hanging out on a shelf somewhere, don't you?
|The bathroom was literally ten feet away, but no, this, this is much better.|
You will get cranky and desperate while waiting, but god forbid you zone out or get distracted by your phone and miss something.
|Please let something happen. Just something. |
|Like zombies and other unpleasant things...|
Go ahead, stare for awhile and tell me you don't think the apocalypse is nigh.
In the meantime, get cozy. You're going to be here for a while.
|And are about to discover a whole new level of boredom.|
-Pack a cooler with water (no diuretics) and snacks to keep your energy up.
-Bug repellent, for when it's hot and you need your window open. The ones that clip on can be attached to your sun visor and work surprisingly well.
-Your camera! "Duh" right? I actually forgot mine once. Thankfully I was able to correct my error with no harm done, but you better believe I've been paranoid about it ever since.
-Invest in a socket converter and some extra batteries and thank me later.
-A flashlight. It's seriously handy.
-Change of clothes, or at least an extra shirt. There's no telling when you may need to "reinvent" your look.
There's about a million other things that you can also bring, but this is a blog post not a book, dammit. Essentials only.
It could always be worse though, like...
You know what's not fun? Following people around during their "night on the town".
|See this? This is the worst.|
|I promise to never take you for granted.|
And you're probably going to have to enlist a buddy.
The buddy system is necessary for a few reasons; if you're female and working alone, you may be mistaken for a hooker, an easy hook-up, or a weirdo. If you're a guy working alone, you may be mistaken for an easy hook-up, a stalker, or a weirdo.
|Some things are just awkward for everyone.|
|Damn this delicious amber liquid.|
Seriously, you do not want to be the only odd duck drinking water, but you've got to keep alert too. Even if you just stick with beer, you'll get tired faster and be less focused.So what's a professional stalker to do?
Try this: have the bartender give you a short glass of cola or water with a lime in it. You won't get tipsy, and it'll still appear as though you're imbibing like a good little bar fly.
|This is my eighth H2O-tini. |
My kidneys may explode...
But no matter how smooth you may be, just remember...
3. You're going to screw up.
It's inevitable. There are far too many variables in play and people are the most un-frickin-predictable creatures on the planet.
|Like those who only use turn signals some of the time.|
(Yeah, following these guys is a breeze..)
During a particularly stupid moment, I was so confident that my video camera was in my bag I didn't even bother checking just to make sure. Got to the location, started rummaging around... No camera.
Then, while just about breaking the sound barrier trying to get home to retrieve said camera, I got a flat tire...
Got back on the road in under five minutes.
|Personal best, bitches.|
I've had other screw-ups too, I've been burned, my timing has been off, my ghillie suit got caught on some bushes and I would up dragging half the forest into my car with me...
|Shockingly, this thing is also not great for blending into all backgrounds.|
But hey, shit happens. Learn from it and move on.
Oh, and check your blind spot.