This thing’s been nagging at me for the past week, and I don’t exactly know why.
Last Monday I was sitting on a little park bench near the Roosevelt Island Tram here in NYC, checking my email on a drizzly day. I was interrupted by this youngish woman (I’m notoriously bad at judging age, but I wanna say… late 20s/early 30s?) carrying a baby, probably about a year old. Woman was dressed well, so was baby.
Anyway, the woman asked me, while holding out her own phone: “Excuse me, could you do me a favor? Would you take a picture of me with my baby? I don’t have any pictures of the two of us.”
I looked up and saw the abovementioned woman & kid. No one else was around. She was smiling and apologetic, and I returned the smile and said, “of course, no problem.”
I did immediately think: wait, why doesn’t she have any pictures of herself with her kid? Did she just escape an Amish community or something? Or maybe she just adopted the girl. Although they kinda looked alike.
Anyway, she gave me her phone and then walked about ten feet away from me. When I looked through the phone, they looked tiny in the distance, and because I suck at smartphone cameras, I didn’t know how to do a close-up. So I walked closer to them so the shot would be a normal mid-range image, a nice clear shot of both their faces.
She thanked me but then said, “I’m sorry, could you go back there and take the picture from where you were before?”
I said, “Oh, sure, I’m sorry. It’s just that it’s pretty hard to see you guys…”
She just said “It’s okay, could you anyway?”
So, yeah, I went back and took the picture. But more and more I was feeling… I don’t know. Something was off, but for the life of me I couldn’t articulate what was bothering me.
Anyway that was it, I gave back the phone, she thanked me, and walked away. End of thrilling anecdote.
And yet… the whole thing felt so weird and it’s been gnawing at me ever since. The thing is, I really can’t figure out why it’s bothering me, maybe because I can’t think of a reason why this woman wanted a photo of her and her baby from such a specific distance.
Points to note:
My first thought was… is this a pickpocketing scam? Y’know, where she’d distract me while her partner grabs my wallet? But no, there wasn’t anyone else nearby, and my bag was untouched. (I had it around my shoulder with the bag in front, they’d have to be pretty damn good to steal anything from me in that context. And they didn’t.)
Okay, so was she a tourist who liked the tram a lot? Nope. From where she was standing, the background of the pic was just some stores and benches.
The whole time, what kept nagging at me was the weirdest feeling that this wasn’t really her child and it was a kidnapping. (I know, melodramatic, but what can I say, I write mysteries.) There was literally no reason or proof, but I’ll tell you, I pretty much memorized this woman’s face (it helps that she looked very much like a younger, slightly prettier version of Maggie Wheeler).
Ignoring the silly mystery option, it still seems hinky to me.
Okay after all this preamble, I guess my first question is… does this seem odd to anyone else? If so, why? What is it that’s pinging the strangeometer?
The other question is, why would she want the full-body shot where the kid and her were tiny, rather than a close-up–especially considering that she said she had no pictures of the two of them? Any guesses?
(The best idea I could come up with was that maybe she recently lost the baby weight and wanted a picture to show off her body? Seems lame–especially since, why tell me the lie about this being the only photo of her and her kid? But you never know.)
Thoughts? Hmm, I suppose question #3 would be: considering that I felt weird about this but took the photo anyway, was I wrong to do so? Was there any other way I could have reacted to ease my bizarre concerns? Should I have asked the kid’s name in a chatty way, or how old she was, or even snuck my own photo of the two of them as they walked away? Am I as nutso as I sound? (Don’t answer that one, I already know what you’ll say! :D)