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The First Question

Early morning in Europe. Not the worst place. Not the best. A weekend. Just after public transport opened. Quiet. A good time for a spy to meet a source.

I found a seat in the back of a subway car. Pulled out a phone to check for last minute communications. A guy saw me do it.

Normally, not a big deal. Lots of people dressed like me. Looked like me. Had their phones out. But the guy chose me.

“Let me see your phone,” he said in the local language.

I ignored him.

“Let me see your phone,” he said again.

I looked at the guy. Started thinking. Collected data.

The guy: My height. A little heavier. Wiry. Some muscle under a thin coat. Cheap shoes. Jeans. Non-native ethnicity. Aggressive posture.

He stood in the walkway. Blocked the exit. His gaze was intense. But his eyes were dancing and unfocused.

Time for some analysis.

Pretty clear that “Let me see your phone” equaled “Let me steal your phone.”

More analysis needed. I started on the usual cycle of questions when approached by anyone in a foreign country.

The first question was always the same: Does this guy know I’m a spy?

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