John Pawlowski admits he’s a creature of habit.
Once a week Pawlowski drives from his office in the City of Tonawanda to the same sub shop, Tailgate Deli, in the Town of Tonawanda, where he picks up the same order, a ham and turkey sub with Swiss cheese and lettuce.
The 36-year-old Lancaster man then drives around the corner to Zimmerman Boulevard and parks in front of the same house under the same tree to take a break and eat his sub before heading back to his office. The tree offered shade in the summer and, well, it just became part of his routine.
On a Friday earlier this month, as he was parking back at his office, a car occupied by a couple in their mid-60s boxed him in.
“What are you doing in front of that house all that time?” the man asked.
“What house?” Pawlowski replied.
Then it dawned on him.
The husband, who said they’d been watching Pawlowski for a year, was laid back. His wife was fired up.
“We’re checking into you,” she said. “We’ve got the police notified.”
On that day, the couple not only had to follow Pawlowski back from his usual sub-eating spot on Zimmerman, he said, but they had to wait and keep tracking him while he stopped to fill up at a gas station on the way.
Pawlowski said he took off his sunglasses and tried to convince the couple he’s not conducting the world’s slowest surveillance of a robbery target. He said he thinks he sold the husband, but he's not sure about the wife.
Pawlowski said he did go back the following week.
“I think if I didn’t go, I was admitting that I did something wrong, which I don’t think I did,” he said.
He parked in the same spot, and ate the same sandwich.
His new friends, he said, didn’t come out.