I once knew a lady named Miss U. Biquitous. A nice enough person, but I always seemed to run into her where ever I went.
One day she turned to me rather suddenly and said, “Why are you always following me around?” Startled by her question, I answered “Funny, I thought it was you who was following me”. So we went out for lunch together and had some tuna fish sandwiches. When she was done with her sandwich, and a glass of ginger-ale, she admitted that other people had also told her that they see her everywhere they go. She felt funny about it, but didn’t know what she could do differently. She didn’t try to be everywhere all the time, it just worked out that way in her busy schedule. I tried to cheer her up by relating the story of my old college roommate Omni Present. He too was forever being told by his friends that he seemed to be everywhere they went. He was able to overcome his stigma and become a successful corporate manager, where his strange affliction seemed to help him succeed. His underlings soon learned that they could never escape the ever watchful eyes of Mr. Present who had an almost spooky way of showing up out of nowhere when they least expected it. This story seemed to cheer up my lunch companion somewhat as she pondered the idea of using her situation to her advantage. “I bet I’d make a great private detective”, she mused to herself. “Hey, didn’t you sit next to me last night at the movies?”, her thoughts were shattered by the sudden presence of the waiter at our table. “Umm yeah, I guess so”, she answered sheepishly. She had long ago become tired of being recognized everywhere she went. At least this time he knew where they had met, avoiding the interminable string of guesses and questions about her childhood and schooling she usually had to endure while a stranger tried to remember why she looked familiar. Trying to help end her awkward moment quickly, I quickly shoved my money at the waiter to distract him from pursuing his line of questioning any further. We left the cafe, and after some polite chit-chat, headed our separate ways. As we parted, I could just barely hear her chuckle to herself, “See you tomorrow”.
I didn’t know what she meant until later the next day when I ran into her again in the produce section at the grocery store. “Funny meeting you here”, I smirked sarcastically. She just smiled and continued shopping, but it was such a warm beautiful smile it seemed to brighten my whole day. For the first time I actually looked forward to running into her again soon. The next day I didn’t see her, but the following day I passed her briefly in a crowd. Again she just smiled. A kind of satisfied self confident smile like a little girl with a secret, and I knew exactly what she meant. I too was beginning to find it re-assuring always knowing when we parted that we would see each other again soon. Two days passed this time without seeing her again, but I wasn’t worried. I came across her the next day sitting on a park bench with her lunch. By the time I noticed her, she was already looking at me, almost like she was just sitting there waiting for me to show up.
“Hi, good to see you!”, I blurted out almost a little too enthusiastically.
“Hi yourself”, she answered quietly, “Here, I brought you a sandwich, hope tuna’s okay”.
“Uh, sure that’s great”, I answered still recovering from my initial outburst, “how’d you know I be here?”
“I didn’t really know, just hoped I guess. Good to see you.”
“Yes, good to see you too”, I smiled and had a seat. It was good to see her, although I wasn’t exactly sure why I was so happy about it. She seemed to radiate a calm happiness now that I hadn’t felt when she first confronted me the other day. We sat, quietly eating our sandwiches, and enjoyed the moment together. When we were done, she just smiled and got up to go.
“See you later”, I called out after her.
“Yeah, see you later”, she beamed back with a smile.
The next day I almost literally ran into her on a crowded pedestrian mall across town. She was positively beaming with happiness, and again didn’t seem the least bit surprised to see me. “Hi, guess what! I did it!”, she said as she pulled me out of the flowing stream of people. Before I could even utter hello she continued, “I thought about what you said about your friend Omni and I quit my secretary job and got a job at a detective agency”. I barely uttered a surprised “Really?”, before she continued on, “I’m not a real detective yet or anything, but they are letting me help on a case, trying to find people in the city, it’s really great!” She paused for a breath and I was able to interject, “Wow that’s great, I guess, I didn’t mean to tell you to quit your job or anything”.
“Hey no problem”, she answered quickly, “I needed a change anyway, and your story just got me thinking, anyway this job is the best. They gave me these pictures of people they want to find, and I just went on some errands. Ran into the first guy at the grocery, another at the library, and I expect to run across the last lady on the subway home. Maybe my curse is a blessing in disguise! Won’t they be surprised at the agency when I tell them I’m done already”. “Uh yeah, wow that’s great”, I stammered, “How exactly do you do that anyway?” She answered jubilantly, “No idea!”, and then with a smile big enough to end wars, she was off, “See you later”, was all I heard as she faded into the crowd.
It was another two days before we ran into each other again. I had just stepped off the bus on the east end of town when there she was standing on the sidewalk in front of me. She was smartly dressed in tasteful business suit and was carrying a thin attache case. I thought to myself how sharp she was looking and how genuinely glad I was to see her.
“Hello, you’re looking great. How are you doing?”, I asked.
“Real good, thanks”, she answered, calmer today. “They love me down at the agency, can’t figure how I keep finding their missing persons. Yesterday I sat down for lunch at cafe next to a man that had been evading his wife’s detectives for nearly three years. It’s giving me an eerie sense of power I think. You know, I really don’t know how I do it.” Her words kind of trailed off like she was taking the opportunity of the telling to really ponder her situation herself for the first time.
“Well, I’m happy you’re doing well in your job anyway”, I answered trying not to sound so awkward, “You must have some kind of gift I guess, sounds like if you learn to use it, it could serve you well”. With these words her eyes seem to perk up in my direction. I remembered her dramatic reaction to my previous attempt to cheer her up and I hoped I wasn’t inspiring her to conquer the free world or anything. “You know?”, she suddenly blurted out like she just discovered the answer, “You are so right. I am going to keep working on my detective license for now, but this really could get much bigger”. The corners of her mouth crept upward into a big smile on the word “bigger”. Her response did little to calm my fears. Before I could ask her what she had in mind, she motioned for me to follow and started walking and talking; “The funny thing is, you know, the less I try the better it works. As a matter of fact, the only way I was able to stop running into my old boyfriend everywhere was to go out looking for him one day, never saw him again after that. I think the detectives at work are starting to investigate me now since I won’t tell them how I’m finding people.” She paused to smirk for a moment, ” of course it doesn’t help any that they are always running into me at the laundry mat or grocery. I think the they suspect me of following them or something. One of those ‘he acts so dumb he must be a genius’ things I guess”, she laughed and continued walking, glancing my way to make sure I was still following her, both literally and figuratively.