The Murderous Rendezvous
Everyone knows there are hazards in making online friends. I’ve taught the “Dangers of the Internet” class to many young teens. I’ve tried to make an impact on how easy it is for a predator to find private information; where you live, go to school, etc.
Adults are also at risk but we don’t often think that one of our Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin friends may actually be out to do us harm. We continue to make unknown contacts and build a community that exists only online, far away from where we perceive danger.
As a woman, I understand the extra precautions that need to be in place. We can never take safety for granted. We carry items for protection, stay out of shadowed places and watch closely what is happening around us. Women exist in this world of heightened awareness without even thinking about it.
Every once in a while we get a chance to meet an unknown someone from our social network. A person we think we know after 140 character Twitter conversations, or Facebook messages. We plan a simple lunch or dinner at a public restaurant where we can feel safe and finally make eye contact with our special but really unknown friend. We’re eager, and that small unidentified “threat” factor adds an element of excitement.
So here I was, a police officer, making plans to meet one of my online acquaintances face to face. She (as portrayed online) lived on the stretch of road I travel when attending autopsies. We were online friends. We knew a lot about one another through the other’s blog. She was a sister writer like me.
When we planned our lunch date, we exchanged email addresses. Being a detective, I know what can be learned by exchanging this information. I’ve used “view full header” to find people emailing child pornography. It’s not some top secret FBI program, it’s available to everyone. The header on an email shows the IP address of the sender and receiver and using an IP address locater, found on any search engine, I copy and paste the info and presto, I’m on the path to getting my guy.
So, I guess I consider exchanging email addresses mistake number one. As the time of our pre-arranged meeting draws closer, we take the next step. We exchange phone numbers. If you use your phone number for any public drawing, you know, to win a house or a car, guess what? I can find your home address. There are other ways as well and I’ve gathered information on unlisted phone numbers quite easily. So here we are with mistake number two.
Early that morning, I drive to the autopsy, excited about my death by toaster case. Sincerely I could not make this up. The pathologist didn’t believe me either but before we entered the dissection room, I asked him to Google death by toaster and see the thousands of pages of information dedicated to this topic. He laughed at me as we gowned up and put on our facemasks. He wasn’t laughing after two minutes of viewing the body. I and my investigation were completely vindicated. Sorry, but I can’t go into further detail but maybe someday I can post the story.
So here I was making the drive home, meeting my Twitter pal, feeling excited and a little apprehensive as I drove off the main highway onto a long road, continuing out into nowhere, to a Mexican restaurant chosen by my unknown friend. My handy Verizon Navigator giving me directions as the Arizona desert landscaping became more desolate.
Up ahead, I see one lonely vehicle parked at my destination. A woman steps out, and eyes me closely. Then her hand tentatively comes up and waves. Even in the uninhabited surroundings my anxiety gives way to relief. We meet halfway between the vehicles and hug each other. She is sorry, she had no idea the restaurant was closed. She has another idea if I follow her. We get in our separate vehicles and make a drive into even more isolation. The small mom and pop café with its blinking open sign is a relief.
Within minutes we are old friends. We can’t get our words out fast enough. Her cell phone beeps and her husband is checking on her. She took precautions like I did and sends back a message saying “Having fun!” Minutes of laughter go by as we talk about our security measures for this meeting. Her phone beeps again and she shows me the return text, “Having GUN?”
Oh, that man is a riot and teasing her about meeting an online serial killer. Minutes later her phone rings, I can hear her distressed husband’s voice from my seat across the table. She assures him everything is fine. After hanging up, she looks back at her text messages and then begins laughing. She shows me what she did. Instead of typing “Having fun” she’s the one that wrote “Having gun.” Our hilarity carries on for hours, before it’s finally time for us to head home.
We did it. Both of us dodged a murderous rendezvous and proved our husbands wrong. We made a lasting friendship and await the next gruesome death so we can meet up again. We Tweet and laugh with each other still. But maybe, somewhere in the back of our vivid imaginations we wonder, what if?
Melissa Crytzer Fry, this post is for you. I truly love the inspiration you give to writers with your beautiful photography and creative writing genius. What I Saw… is one of my favorite blogs! Keep motivating us and sharing your visions. You are truly a special friend. I can’t think of a better way to meet someone and thank you for the use of your photo without knowing this post was about you.
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