Nobody will notice us here!
Paradoxically, the best way to hide a secret meeting is often to hold it somewhere extremely public. Locations like this can be selected to be unpredictable to anyone who you might want to avoid, are almost certainly bug-free, and can provide a layer of plausible deniability when the people in question aren't supposed to be meeting each other at all.
The classic situation where this occurs is meetings between members of two different secret government agencies; in that case they're not only dodging eavesdroppers, they're also making it more difficult for either agency's goons to do anything untoward.
Stock locations for this kind of meeting include:
- A park bench.
- On the banks of a river, downstream from a bridge.
- In a noisy Italian restaurant.
Of course, while this kind of meeting decreases the odds of being noticed by the specific people you're trying to avoid, it substantially increases the odds that your conversation will be overheard by random passers-by. This is generally glossed over
, though sometimes it's nodded at by selecting an exceptionally loud meeting place.
Anime and Manga
Film -- Live Action
- In The Big O, Roger always met with his street informant Big Ear in a bar.
- There's an interesting example of this in Death Note. Misa is trying to find Light, so she sends a diary page to the task force saying that they should "show off their notebooks in Aoyama" on a certain day. On that day, Light goes to Aoyama with Matsuda and meets friends whom he hangs out with expecting to perform this trope. Misa, however, finds him first and leaves before he can see her.
- Lampshaded in Hot Shots!, where a conspirator mentions that he finds public places to be the best place to have secret meetings. While they're at a boxing match.
- Parodied in the made-for-TV movie Two on a Bench, which is about two people who strike up a conversation on a park bench and are consequently Mistaken for Spies.
- James Bond
- In Fatal Instinct, a woman meets with her lover in a park to plot the death of her husband.
- In The Departed, whenever state police Queenan and Dignam need to chat with Costigan, their mole in the mob, they meet him in some park/riverbank area. This worries Costign, because if anyone sees him with them, he's pretty much dead.
- There's a duck pond in Good Omens which is specifically the place in London where spies from different agencies (and Crowley and Aziraphale) go to meet.
- In The Sandbaggers, most of Burnside's meetings with his American counterpart Jeff Ross happen while strolling in the park.
- Stargate SG-1 has a few examples.
- General Hammond has a park meeting with one of his contacts who's so paranoid that he refuses to talk even while they're sitting on a park bench; they have to be actually walking before he'll say anything.
- Sam and her NID contact Malcolm Barrett first meet in his office, where he vocally denies having any interest in what she has to say while passing him a note that says to meet in the park instead.
- In "Spies Five", an unaired sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Tony and Control meet on a park bench because there's a mole in their department.
- Subverted in 30 Rock. Jack meets Lenny, a private investigator played by Steve Buscemi, along the banks of the river, in view of the Queensborough Bridge. Lenny thanks Jack for driving out there, Jack says he doesn't mind because discretion is important. Lenny replies "Also, my gym is right over there."
- Spooks: In seasons one and two, the characters frequently have meetings on the benches across from the Houses of Parliament.
- In The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life it was recommended that runners meet with their Mr. Johnson (employer) at a public place such as a McHugh's restaurant.
- Many of the adventures published for the game had runners meeting with their Mr. Johnson in public places such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
- The Simpsons: When Homer is forced into working for the feds he meets his handler in a public park.
Index: Espionage Tropes