fancy spy store sent them a new tiny hidden camera that screwed into a shirt button and they (the magazine, not the store) wanted me to use it to spy on people, I gave them an unflinching yes. I think I was imagining I was about to get involved in some James Bond-type shit. But then I found out that I was just supposed to go to the park and talk to people and invade their space. I wasn't disappointed though--I'm a lot better at being creepy than I am at espionage.
I walked to McCarren Park in Brooklyn and looked for my first target. I started to approach a young woman in a business suit, but five feet from the bench I got nervous and walked away. Talking to strangers is hard. I decided I should pick an easier mark, someone without the ability to make me feel like an incompetent perv.
I sat down next to an old Russian man with a cane. I asked him how his day was, what he was up to, etc. Then I offered him some of my lemonade, but for some reason he thought I was asking him for money, so he pulled a bunch of coins out of his pocket. I told him that no, I was not begging, only offering some of my delicious, mouth-puckering nectar. He declined, told me he had to go, and then hobbled away on his cane. I felt like a total dick.
Still, my confidence was up. I could do this. I went up to a girl who looked to be about my age. She was reading Steppenwolf. I asked if it was a biography of the band who sings "Born to be Wild." What was weird was that she started asking me questions about myself. I think she thought I was trying to hit on her and was just really, really bad at it. It made me uncomfortable having a stranger ask me questions about my life. I thought I was supposed to be the one invading her space. I was super glad when she told me she’d better get back to reading, and I walked away as she was saying it was nice to meet me. I wasn't trying to be rude; I just really wanted to leave.
Last I headed down to the subway and approached some guy wearing a “funny” t-shirt that said something about bacon who was waiting for the G. He had his headphones on and pretended not to hear me when I asked him what he was reading. It was some kind of allegorical Christian science-fiction book. I tapped him and asked again. He told me, but he seemed really weirded out and kind of scared. Maybe he thought I was going to push him onto the tracks or something. Just as I was about to ask if I could listen to his iPod with him, the train came and he split.
What I learned from all this spying is something everyone knows: People are really uncomfortable with strangers talking to them. I got the feeling that they were even more confused by the fact that I wasn’t trying to extort or hit on them, just trying to hang out with them. People expect crazies and sex fiends, but no one knows what to do with someone who doesn't understand the basic rule that says people want to be left the hell alone.
Extra-super-duper-special thanks to SpyGear4U.com for letting us use the camera. Go there for all sorts of other spy stuff that you can use to annoy people and catch them doing horrible things without their knowledge. We're going to be doing more of these Creepy Cam features for the blog, so leave your ideas (it has to happen in a public place) in the comments. And, yes, we know the angle is off. After this trial run we rigged up a bracket system for the button cam. Our next installment will be much clearer.