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MeetUPS With L.L. Me

I watch UPS exit the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement building. Sometime within the last thirty minutes he seems to have adopted a sidekick. I know for a fact that UPS had been alone when he got out of his car and went inside – I have the pictures to prove it.

I’ve seen UPS a few times; this is definitely the first time I’ve seen the guy he’s with. Where’d he come from?

I watch as they laugh and chat moving towards UPS’s car. Should I try to follow them? By the time they’re climbing in the vehicle, I’ve not only made up my mind the answer is “yes” but I’ve also come up with a ruse to find out who this new mystery man is. And although I’m almost positive of UPS’s identity, if my idea is successful I’ll have absolute verification. I give them no more than a few seconds head start before I go after them.

The traffic is thick at this time of day and I make sure my bumper is right on UPS’s. I weave with them down the road towards the University of Virginia and contemplate if having two people in a vehicle draws their attention away from everything else. If they’re focused on each other does it distract them from me?

As usual, there’s plenty of people and activity around UVA and the closer we get to the campus the more chaotic it becomes. I’m content that all the hullabaloo further distracts them from my blatant tailgating.

We have to stop several times to let pedestrians cross so I think nothing of it when UPS stops yet again in front of me. That is until I notice there’s no clear reason for him to be doing it now. Shoot! They’re parking. I watch as the Alero pulls off to the right hand side into a space and I frantically look for a place where I can pull over too. No such luck. They got the only visibly open spot.

I zip by and take a right on the first road I see -- miraculously close to where they were. Immediately on my right is a parking lot. It’s nearly empty and it takes me less than a second to decide I don’t care about permits or being towed or any of the other threats the college makes to an automobile-impaired visitor such as myself.

In a rush to catch UPS and his associate, I’m out of my car almost before the tires cease rolling. I aim my auto-lock gizmo over my shoulder as I take off running. I'm too far away to hear it click; I’m hoping the doors are in fact secured. I fly by signs stating the parking area I’m in is for bank customers. I come racing around the corner as fast as my legs will move me and am delighted to see the Alero. Yes, still there! It seems like mega-minutes have passed but it’s probably been less than two.

I slow to a saunter and, while keeping watch on their car, briefly scan inside all the stores on that particular block looking for the pair. I don’t see them. I head back to their mode of transportation and seat myself on a wall of bricks in front of it to wait for them. I look at the roof of the car and study the object that I intend to use as a ploy. I know exactly what it is: an antenna, same white color as the car. It’s round and kind of flat -- resembles a hockey puck.

I spot the duo meandering down the sidewalk in my direction. The one whom I don’t know is wearing a UVA jacket and I immediately begin strategizing to begin at the University’s police department to find out about him. I wait patiently for them to get all the way to their car before approaching them. They’re talking to each other over the roof and I interrupt.

“Hey, what is…” I’m pointing. “Oh, I’m sorry…” I say, as if embarrassed that I’d accidentally cut in on their conversation, “I don’t mean to bother you but what is that… thing? On your car.”

“It’s an 800 megahertz antenna” replies UPS. He says it in such an authoritative and proud manner it’s clear I’m supposed to be awed. I act like I am. I also act like I’m dumb.

“For…?” Wide eyed, I draw the single word out.

UPS says something technical about police communications.

“Oooh…” I let that word linger also. I look back and forth between the two of them. “Y’all are detectives?” I don’t wait for an answer before adding “I mean, I saw the light in the back of the car but…” I trail off like I'm struggling to put two and two together. They confirm they’re law enforcement.

“What’s your name?” I abruptly ask UPS, in a tone that suggests he's already told me but I've forgotten it. For a heartbeat it appears he’s not going to tell me, then he surrenders his given name. Ha! I knew it! Inwardly I grin. Outwardly I nod. I consider the advantages of having an ambiguous surname, since he didn’t specify whether the name he gave was his first or his last and it could definitely be either.

There’s a long pause and it occurs to me that throughout it I’ve been intently staring at UPS. “You look really familiar” I say as an excuse. “I think your picture’s been in the paper.” I know it has; it was the basis for my tentative ID of him. I tilt my head, like a different angle will alleviate my puzzlement.

UPS grins boyishly then claims maybe it’s the other guy. “He looks like me” UPS laughs. They don’t look anything alike. I smile, more in lieu of his good-naturedness than his jest.

While UPS is making jokes I move casually around the other guy absorbing as many details as I can. Now standing to his right side I peer into the man’s peepers. “Oh, what’s your name?” He looks back into my eyes for a moment, a teeny smidgen longer than I’m comfortable with. “Michael.” Probably not his last name, which he obviously isn’t going to provide me with. Again I nod. He doesn’t know it but, just from this little run-in, I figure I’ll know precisely who he is before noon tomorrow. In the meantime I'm gonna call him L.L. Me. Thank you, UPS.

Satisfied I have a good starting point, and not wanting to push my luck, I determine I can end the meeting and attempt to do so. I start to ease back away with another apology for bothering them -- ramble about being curious, let them be going, blah, blah. UPS at last makes the obligatory joke about the antenna being a hockey puck. I don’t share the thought that crosses my mind: Doubt you’re going to score with that one, pal. They both assure me I haven’t been a bother and we all wish each other a good night.

I go back to my seat on the bricks and look vacantly around at the college kids scurrying by like roaches. I wait ‘til I’m certain UPS and Michael are out of sight before jumping up and jogging back to my car. I pray it’s still there and doesn’t have a ticket on the windshield -- it is and doesn’t.

The following day, while out walking, I use the time, along with my handy cell phone, to learn who Michael is. It takes a mere three calls to find out. I deposit my phone in my pocket right as I pass by the Charlottesville Police Department. A vehicle pulls out of an area where I know law enforcement parks and, though the windows are heavily tinted, I’m close enough to see through the front one. It appears Michael is the driver. What a coincidence. The man waits for me to go across the sidewalk in front of him. Once past, I sneak a peak back at the fellow. He’s looking in my direction. Does he recognize me too? The possibility amuses me and I turn to hide my smirk. As he drives away I slide my cell phone back out to look at the clock. The time is noon on the dot.