I am starting to have serious misgivings about my marriage. For starters, I didn't even know I was hitched but my Gmail account insists that I am, and who am I to argue with Google? Honestly, I thought I'd lost most, if not all of my commitment phobias, but I must confess that I'm a little bit uncomfortable with being married to a man- not that I have anything against gay marriage ( I can't understand why it's a problem for certain people) but I'm not gay. I like women. A lot. Of this I am certain...so why is my husband cheating on me?
On the sidebar of my Gmail there is a bold advert :" Your Husband is Cheating on You!"...if you click on it, you will be taken to a website that advertises a product that you can install on the PC of your choice- it will then track every keystroke, every email, every website visit and chat activity- everything that is done on that computer- and report back to you. The company claims that this intrusive software is based on programs designed by our own National Security Agency and currently in use by dozens of Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, along with hundreds of businesses, probably including the one I work for...how very comforting.
I'm not a marriage expert but I imagine that if one has reached the point where one feels compelled to surreptitiously snoop one's partner's emails, then that relationship is already over and installing software is not going to save it...I'd say skip the spyware and go directly to a divorce attorney- you can find links on Gmail to discount annulments- you can even divorce on the "buddy system", saving a few bucks and paperwork headaches by seperating en masse.
(OK, I made that last bit up but it's probably true anyway)
The program also encourages parents to spy on their children "for safety", which I can understand to a degree, the web being lousy with human lice and all, but the ad also implies that you can monitor your teenager's drug use and sexual activity by eavesdropping on their emails and text messages. Why not just talk to your kid instead? My dad didn't do me a lot of favors growing up, but he did talk to me as an adult when I had my first serious girlfriend. He asked me what kind of contraception we were using ( a diaphragm in the pre-HIV era) and gave us a $10 weekly allowance to purchase the spermicidal cream for it...my girlfriend would then shoplift the goo and we'd spend the money on a dime bag of pot or a case of beer...I would have hated seeing that money squandered on a computer program.
I've been watching my teenage cousin try to lie his way out of various and sordid teen traumas and it's pretty obvious that most kids just can't grok the fact that their parents and adult relatives used to do exactly the same stuff and tell exactly the same lies as them- the first time I heard "I was just holding it for a friend", I doubled over with laughter, a guffaw that was enhanced by the buzz I had from "the friend's" weed. I didn't need a virtual polygraph to smell the lies on his breath. Nice try, kiddo...
The use of this software in a non-family setting disturbs me. I already know that the Feds record every single bit of data that passes through the internet, including digital phone lines and TV transmissions, but I (perhaps erroneously) rely on sheer volume to mask any errant rants on my part- but the workplace is much smaller and most IT workers seem to have entirely too much free time...blogging from work (which is the only time I have) has become my latest "risk-seeking" behavior- I miss the days when you actually had to do something fun in order to get in trouble at work- such as learning that the crawlspace above the removable ceiling panels is not such a great place to stash wayward undergarments and empty beer bottles, especially if your boss is a D.I.Y. guy who changes his own fluorescent tubes.
Yesterday, a woman I don't know accosted me at the tiny table that serves as my desk. She wanted to know what I was doing. I was printing PDF files and attaching them to invoices, pretty heady stuff...she wanted details:
"Show me how you do it", she said. I wanted to tell her that that was sorta personal and that I didn't know her that well, but she indicated that she meant how I do my paperwork.
"Um, I use the mouse to move the cursor over this link here- then I click it and it prints out right here...then I staple the printout to this yellow sheet of paper and add it to the 'done' pile."
"So you use a stapler. I see." She sees? Sees what? Is she dense or is she just fucking with me?
"Well", I elaborated, "if it's a particulary large file, I will use a binder clip. Or even a rubber band."
"A binder clip," she mused," do you have a box of them?"
"Yes. I keep them with my rubber bands", I added, hoping to fend off the inevitable next question.
"So. You have plenty of rubber bands." It was a statement and not an especially bright one.
"I need to use your phone."
"OK." Why? Doesn't your cubicle come with telephone service?
"Hello? It's me. Call me when you get this."
WTF? Why is she making nonsense calls on my phone?
She returned later in the day. I had a sandwich and a coffee on my desk.
"Are you eating lunch?"
"Noommph", I replied, my mouth full of turkey sandwich.
"Are you busy?"
"I need to use your phone again."
She left the same insipid message as last time, probably on her own phone.
After she left, I tried hitting "redial" to find out who she had called. Redial is "inactive" on my phone, which puzzles me. If she returns, I think I will point out the software ad I mentioned above and tell her that it would be a lot easier for her to watch over my shoulder if she did it from somewhere else using a computer...perhaps I could affix UPC codes to my staples and binder clips and she could use second-hand NSA technology to stay abreast of my fastener supplies. Or I could post the number of clips, staples and bands used on Outlook and send her hourly updates...heck, I could even use my PC to email building services and find out what the fuck is wrong with her telephone that compels her to use mine.
I'm feeling very helpful today.