Dave Birch’s ‘Decline and Fall Guy’: Chapter 2–Mean Streets

Featuring a new chapter each day, Consult Hyperion's David Birch takes you on a wild adventure through espionage, contactless payments and a man on the brink.

If you've missed the first chapter, go back and read it now!

Mean Streets NYC

Chapter 2: Mean streets.

It was warm. Too warm for the thick black overcoat I brought with me to Manhattan. I didn’t fit in, I stood out as the clown that didn’t read the weather forecast. No good. I went back to the hotel and ditched the coat. Back out on Madison I was just like any other citizen. Warm, but not hot. And yes, my pockets were still clean as a whistle. No bills, no coins. But I was pretty sure no one could tell.

I needed to find out if they were still tracking me, whoever “they” might be. I pulled into what looked like an average diner and I ordered the most average lunch I could think of. And yes, it was a pretty average pot roast. When the check came, I flicked my Simple Visa card down, like it was the most normal thing in the world. A guy in a jacket took it away and for a moment I thought I would never see it again, but he came back a minute later with a slip for me to sign. I didn’t want to give anything away, so I picked it up all casual like, and scrawled Sergio Aguero on the dotted line. I tossed the pen back on the table and strolled out like it was nothing. So far so good.

On the way back to the hotel I realised I was thirsty and I wanted to pick up a drink to take back to the hotel. I saw a Duane Reade and glancing left and right to make sure I wasn’t being followed, I slipped in through the door and disappeared between the shelves. Once I was certain I wasn’t being tailed I went to the cranberry juice and I grabbed some milk too. I walked up to the counter and handed them to the sister standing there. She scanned them. I was about to reach for my back pocket and pull out a card, when I noticed something. I glanced down, trying not to look as if I was looking, and spotted an unfamiliar badge on the terminal. Unless I was much mistaken, it was a Google Wallet logo.

Google? They’ve certainly got the money and they’ve certainly got the connections. But why would they want me to use cash? It didn’t make sense, so I had to try them out, maybe get them to show their hand. I reached in my coat pocket, and felt the sister’s eyes following me. I pulled out the phone. I glanced at the screen, pretty sure that she couldn’t see, and I touched the Google Wallet icon. Yes, it was working normally. Then I tapped my phone against the terminal, just like it was the sort of thing I did every day. It worked fine. Paid. She gave me a strange look. I couldn’t read it. Maybe she’d made me. Time to go. I jumped in a cab.

“48th and 3rd”, I said. That wasn’t where I was going, it was a couple of blocks away, but I couldn’t take any chances. I didn’t know if the driver was working for them or not. We pulled up at the light on 3rd. I notice the payment terminal in the back of the cab has a contactless reader. My phone was already in my hand. I couldn’t resist it. I tapped. And paid. Google Wallet worked flawlessly. Again. There’s no way it could be those guys, I could rule them out.

In a flash I was out the cab and round the corner, doubling back to Lexington. I looked at my screen, and got a shock. Who the hell are JTL Management? I thought I’d just paid a yellow cab, but it must have been a fake, one of their stooges who picked me up to see where I was going. These people are clever.

You can find out what happens next by visiting Total Payments tomorrow for Chapter 3: Black Beans. You can see other articles from Dave Birch in our archive.

David Birch will be speaking at this year's Total Payments Europe – which is part of Europe's Customer Festival – so download the brochure to make sure you don't miss out this September.

This guest post was written by Consult Hyperion's David Birch, this is an adapted version of a post that has previously appeared at Chyp.com's blog.

[Image: lucas_roberts426 - Flickr]

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