The Linemen

I’ve been trying to find a job in Chicago for several months. I’ve truly enjoyed traveling there and taking in the culture while writing.  It’s similar to my hometown, yet still different enough to make the trips exciting – and perhaps, seem more like a vacation than anything.  Especially when meeting the neighborhood at the local tavern. 

A few nights ago, I met a very nice couple of guys who work as Linemen – which, apparently, are installers of fiber and cable and CCTV and other public “traffic” cameras in Chicago.  It sparked a conversation about Big Brother watching, and a debate about why we need government to follow the criminals that are also “watching.” Truly nice gents.  We teased each other “Nice Rack,” I said to the one with a Deer Head on his cap.  And we exchanged phone numbers, as they’d offered to help me with my job search, and for a place to live.  We spent the night joking and complaining about our exes, talking about politics and religion, before the older gent, Will, starts lavishing attention.  The compliments flowed freely, and I must say – I ate it up.  We all had a few beers under our belts, and afterall, I was headed home on a red eye for the holidays that night.  Right before I left, and right after he proposed marriage (and a confession that he’d been married 7 times, yeah right) – he offered to take me to the airport.  I was a little wary that he’d been drinking, but certainly turned down his solution of having me take the wheel. 

All in all, a typical night of meeting local friendlies, something we’ve all done, and I hope, something we all still do.  However, while walking to his truck, the conversation turned a little strange.  Will seemed to be overly concerned about my safety – offering to provide me with a weapon to protect myself.   He demonstrated how to use the knife he’d produced, making wide sweeping gestures under the parking lot floodlights.  It didn’t seem too odd, as my step-father had done the same thing with me many times throughout my life.  I played around with it for a bit before returning it to him.  I didn’t feel comfortable, plus, I don’t think it was legal to take on a plane.

I have to admit, I was a little inebriated in waiting for the plane. Once I got to my seat, I propped up my travel pillow and promptly fell asleep.

Dreaming.

I dreamt that the bloke who gave me the knife then used it in a crime.                             

Think about it.

There we were, blabbing on and on about whatever – who we liked, who we didn’t like – right out in public.  Will and his friend both had access to security cams in the city. And now, Will had my fingerprints on a weapon.

What a perfect mystery.

He could do anything with that knife.  Wield it upon anyone that I was complaining about that night and set me up perfectly for a crime.  Or for blackmail.  I know, I know, I have a vivid imagination, a storytellers imagination – and when the different scenarios and outcomes were flashing by like Netflix trailers, I panicked a little – remembering the story of David Gale and his conviction and death for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the age of surveillance and Big Brotherhood – it’s an all too real possibility to surmise.  Who do we have at the helm of these cameras and controls, the Internet overseers, the Technorati whose motto is no longer “It’s all who you know” but is now, “It’s all about who knows you.”

This has nothing to do with why I cut and colored my hair.  Well, maybe it does.  Maybe as I walk through town as an “anonymous” customer or fellow bus stop resident, or yoga classmate – we should all remember this. The information you might have about each other, about your neighbor, or that stranger in your class could be the exact information Big Brother wants you to have – whether it’s truthful or not – is up to what you believe.

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