Another “chance” meeting

“Paul!  How have you been keeping yourself?  Long time no see!”

I looked up from my hamburger to see an extended hand and some goofy guy smiling from ear to ear.  I grasped his hand and shook it as I took in his “outfit”.  He was dressed like he’d just stepped out of 1976:  Parachute pants, black crew t-shirt with a Members Only jacket and Reebok Pumps.

“Hi, do I know you?”  (I secretly hoped he would think it wasn’t’ me and go on about his business)

“Sure!  It’s Jerry, Jerry Olsen.  We shared some table time at lunch at Ordelo’s a few weeks back.  I was the guy in stocks and venture capital and you do the bean counting at Stella’s.  Ring any bells?”  He was still smiling.  There wasn’t much point in denying it.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, now I remember.  You said you kicked out that day.”

“Right, right,” he agreed nodding his head.  “Care if I catch a sit-down for a few minutes?”

“Sure, no problem,” I said as I moved the trade magazine I was skimming from the other half of the table not occupied by my “Diner’s Delicious Burger” that really was awfully good.  It would be a shame to spoil it.

“So are you back to work and having a retro day, or something?”

“No, still ‘out I’m afraid.  I just had this stuff laying around from back in the day and got a wild hair this morning.  Isn’t it bitchin’?”

It was certainly something, I thought, as I perused the diner quickly to see if I knew anyone in the joint, not wanting to be too closely associated with this blast from four decades past.

“Don’t worry, no one from your office is here.   I checked,” he offered nonchalantly as he bit into his burger.

My head snapped back to attention at him.

“What do you mean?  Have you been following me?  How do you know the people in my office?  What kind of crap are trying to pull?”  I was pissed and a little suspicious and a little unnerved by his statement.

“No, no, nothing like that,” he half-smiled as he muffled this out with his mouth full of burger.  “I do a thorough canvas of all the companies I study, Paul.  I worked on a bond package a couple of years ago for your company and I never forget a face.  Your unit has very little turnover so I knew no one was here from your office as soon as I stepped in the door.  I always analyze any room or building I enter, it’s a throwback to my forces days.”

Now the guy really had me spooked.  ‘Canvassing my company, knowing all our faces, analyzing the room, “forces” days!?’ what did any of this have to do with me and what was this guy’s angle?  I didn’t want to find out, at least not now.  I glanced at my phone,

“Sorry, gotta fly, gotta get back to the office for a meeting.”

“Sure, Paul.  Catch you later,” he said as I hurried off, throwing my half-eaten burger in the trash as I fled.

This time my walk back to the office was more of a slow trot as I glanced behind and to the side to make sure Jerry wasn’t in pursuit but he wasn’t.  I dialed Scott in Financial as soon as I got back to the office.  His voice message picked up immediately, probably still out to lunch eating with sane people.

“Hey, Scott, I was wondering if we could get together for a quick chat sometime today.  I have some quick questions about the company’s investments and wondered if you could give me a high-level overview.”

He realized he probably sounded semi-frantic and had said “quick” twice in his message but he wasn’t as concerned about decorum or content as he was about talking to someone about the guy in the “Disco Lives” get-up and how he knew so much about him and his company!

Scott rang him back around 1:45.

“Hey, Paul, it’s Scott.  I got your message.  What were you wondering about?”

“Thanks for giving me a call back, Scott.  I’ve got kind of a creepy story to tell you and I’m wondering what you can tell me about our bond investments; just really high-level, no specifics.  Can I come to your office?”

“Well, sure, Jerry.  I’ll tell you what I can.  You seem a little spooked.”

“I am, Scott.  Can I come down right now?”

“Let’s make it 2:00, I’ve got a few quick things to knock out from lunchtime, okay?”

“Sure, see you then,” he clicked off with a small sense of relief, hopeful Scott would have some answers about what investment vehicles the company had explored in the past 24 months.  With any luck he could tell him they hadn’t invested or gone through any due diligence of any kind and this “Jerry” guy was just a kook.

He was “Johnny-on-the-spot” at 2:00 at Scott’s office.  Scott was just shuffling some papers together as he walked in to clear his desk.  He put them in a hanging folder in his right-hand desk drawer as Paul sat down.  “Hey Paul, how are things down in your part of the world?”

“They’re good, Scott.  How’s things up here?”

“Well, busy… busy, but we keep hustling, you know?  Always looking for the next new thing.  What can I do for you?”

“Well, I’ve got this sort of weird story to tell you.  There’s this guy who has sort of bumped into me a couple of times at lunch in the last four or five weeks.  He tells me he’s in stocks and venture capital and then he says he’s “kicked out” for the day or the week or whatever and then he claims to know, the second time I see him, that no one is in the diner from my office and he doesn’t forget a face and he’s canvassed our company and..”

“Whoa!  Whoa, Paul, pump the brakes a bit.  Slow down.  When did you first run into him and what did he tell you about knowing something about us here at Stella’s?”

“Sorry, sure.  I shared some counter space at Ordelo’s probably no more than six weeks ago.  He said he was in stocks and venture capital and worked on commission.  Then, he showed up at the ‘Diner on 5th today at lunch and plopped down next to me and when I gave the room a once-over because he was dressed like he stepped out of the mid-seventies he assured me no one from our office was there, that he’d canvassed our company and always analyzed each room he entered; a throwback to his “forces” days.”

“What the hell?  This guy sounds like a nut-job, Paul.  He have a name?”  He’d pulled a notepad out and his pen was poised.

I’ve had more first impressions be right than wrong and sometimes the more you know the more you realize how spot on you were to begin with.

This is a continuance of a story I first posted last week.  To read it or other things at the blog, click here.  If you like what you read I hope you’ll subscribe.  Subscribing is free and means you’ll get an email on Sundays with links to the week’s posts, nothing else.  I never sell or share emails so you don’t have to worry about spam.  To subscribe click this.