What were they up to?
February 12, 2009 8:27 AM   Subscribe

What were these people doing? Whilst popping to the bank this morning, I saw two people, a man and a woman in their 40s/50s. The man had a metal spike sticking out from his rucksack and the woman was carrying what looked like an outsized table tennis bat.

The woman (who was across the road from me) appeared to be holding a large, wooden, white table tennis bat. There was some kind of pattern/writing on it but I couldn't see clearly.

The man was standing next to me, waiting to cross the street, had a metal spike, maybe 1/4 inch in diameter and about a foot long, sticking out of the top of his rucksack. It looked like the very top of the spike was threaded for something to screw onto it.

They might not have caught my attention, had they not been acting rather furtively, looking around suspiciously and seemed to be having some sort of silent conversation/argument at opposite sides of the street.

Any ideas what they were up to?
posted by dogsbody to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Distracting you whilst their accomplice robbed the bank
posted by fire&wings at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Looking for the rest of their pickleball team?
posted by zennie at 8:56 AM on February 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Maybe they accidentally wandered out of a 1930s comic involving thugs and fraternity spankings?
posted by charlesv at 9:04 AM on February 12, 2009

GPS survey?
posted by electroboy at 9:26 AM on February 12, 2009

Google image search for backpack GPS.
posted by electroboy at 9:28 AM on February 12, 2009

Yeah I'm going to also say GPS survey. The gas utility that I work for has a similar setup. They usually only map new developments though, but they do it by walking along the curb throughout the entire development.
posted by pete0r at 9:31 AM on February 12, 2009

Looking for somewhere to set up their swingball?!
posted by penguin pie at 10:03 AM on February 12, 2009

Fancy metal detector?
posted by Roach at 10:27 AM on February 12, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far - the sticks in those GPS backpacks look quite similar, so that might begin to explain the mystery. I'm struggling to imagine what would need surveying in the area. Here's the junction I was standing at, for what it's worth...

And it still doesn't explain the woman's bat or why they looked so sneaky...
posted by dogsbody at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2009

The last time something like this happened to me I was bike commuting to work around dawn. I heard a loud 'thwack' and looked up in time to see an Asian gentleman in a tree. He was smacking the shit out of the tree with a baseball bat. His wife was on the ground, with a push broom and a sack. They were harvesting ginkgo nuts. Any ginkgo trees around?
posted by fixedgear at 11:23 AM on February 12, 2009

I'm struggling to imagine what would need surveying in the area.

Just about any feature, really. Curb line, utility locations, lot corners, etc etc. Most municipalities (in the US, at least) survey their utilities for operations and maintenance purposes.
posted by electroboy at 1:15 PM on February 12, 2009

You're in the UK, so you'd recognize a cricket bat, yes?
posted by terranova at 2:37 PM on February 12, 2009

Four things ... and a lizard?
posted by dhartung at 3:27 PM on February 12, 2009

So the next time you see them, ask, "Pardon me, but which game is the racket for?" They'll be flattered that someone shares their interest and may even invite you along.
posted by KRS at 4:08 PM on February 12, 2009

I'm not sure how much this makes sense (how that equipment works), but geocaching uses GPS and people possibly acting suspicious as the idea is to keep it on the DL. Equipment that large seems over the top but you never know, maybe access to it inspired them.
posted by nzydarkxj at 5:13 PM on February 12, 2009

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