It started with an email from C***** B*****. Normally, I enjoy email from all manner of places and even from total strangers with “Hey, saw you on Facebook” (not that you would) or “Hey read your blog”, but the mail that I got was something a bit more… unsettling….
I am C***** B*****. I’ve seen you on Transit x several times but never really got a chance to talk to you. How’s everything going? I hope life is treating you really well. Take good care of yourself and remember to be safe man. I hope to hear from you soon. If you have any tests coming, I am wishing you the best of luck on them.
Normally, this would have been ok… except the mentioning of the particular bus route I’m on as… well, I use it to either leave my home or go back to it. Disconcerting.
About ten emails (yes, I wrote back) into this, I had to wonder just where he got my email from.
Enter friends. I decided to poll the audience to see how I should handle this. Police was a big hit. So was taking another bus route. What if he kills you? It was a mess. The thing I was trying to ascertain was how he found me to start with. The email to which he sent the message was a business address that I use for freelance work. More talk with friends about this and finally something was triggered:
“You don’t have a fan page do you?”
I’m hidden from everyone on Facebook, but sure enough I had a fan page that my roommate made. Irony: This roommate, the one that freaked because I invited a net-friend to my home, is the reason this person was able to stalk me. It had that freelance address on there (I added it, not him) that I had forgotten to remove or change.
Crazy. Absolutely crazy.
Well, I had planned to go to the police station and looked up the student records online to find out if he was a student at the local university (he was and it had his full address and phone number). Since that checked out, and he sent his phone number, I took a moment to think:
Nobody would give this info if they were trying to harm me. Why be able to be traced?
Assuming that he was using his real name, he sent me email from an address with his name on it, plus his phone number, plus his twitter account, plus the name of the school he attends. All of it was extra. None of it need be said. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it because the other info aside from name and maybe phone number could have been the in-person talk he could have used to kill me if he wanted to.
He really could have just followed me to my home by staying on the bus to see what stop I got off and followed me one day. I don’t know where he lives; he could have been in my neighborhood for all I knew…
In other words, it was creepy as hell, but there wasn’t a threat. Not enough to involve police at this point, so I decided to wait things out. I had ideas for what to look for, so I kept my antennae up and did a few things differently:
- didn’t take the same bus route home.
- took the bus home at different times every day. some days not at all.
- got on and off the bus at different stopping points that had a long enough walk to determine if I were being followed.
- kept copies of the email exchanges (lol).
Nothing. No pressure to meet anywhere. Nothing unpleasant exchanged. Not followed. Hm…
I thought very little of that until today. Why? Well, because I saw the facial structure and similar features to the picture from the twitter page I was linked to. He sat down, across from me. He lives in a spot where I would get on the bus a long way before he does or a long way after he does. He gets off the bus in a way that, unless he followed me, he wouldn’t be able to find my job.
He sat there, quiet. Polite. Gave a slight nod of the head. I returned one in kind and continued to enjoy k-pop. I glanced up every now and then to see if he was still there. He was. He got off at a library and I got off a stop later. Nothing weird about it at all. I’m almost sure we probably could have had a conversation if I had taken my headphones out, but I was having a morning from hades.
Interesting right? Social media connects us in many ways we don’t always expect. I’m very much familiar with stalkers and creepers and the like, but not every contact out of the blue is a creeper or a stalker. Even if they do write eerily specific details in email, they may just be jogging my memory. Who knows; this could even be a potential friend at some point….
Not that any of it matters: I’m moving soon because of work anyway. 😛