Thursday, December 14, 2006
This blog might seem like a very social thing to do, but really, when you think about how it's produced, it's really kind of the opposite. Sitting here by myself, alone with my thoughts, ignoring the various pleas for juice and snacks echoing somewhere in the vague background behind me. I'd go as far as to say that it is actually a pretty effective means of alienating me from the one person I do have to spend any considerable time with, my last pre-school aged child.
Mostly I try to avoid people. It's not that I'm particularly shy or deformed or a vector for any kind of transmissible disease (ladies...), it's just that when they get close they tend to want to chat. And not exclusively about me! Part of it is that I'm genuinely disinterested in what they have to say. The rest of it is that I'm afraid they will bore me so much with stories of their mother's rheumatism or their kid's T-ball practice that it will dawn on me that that's exactly what I sound like when I talk to other people. And what with my liberal guilt, my gender confusion issues and the impending inevitibility of death, I'm sort of full-up, existentially speaking.
Sometimes, however, I will be moved--for whatever reason--to get myself involved in some way. But you know it almost always comes back to bite you in the ass.
The following is a true story.
I know I've said that before. I was lying then, but not now.
Because even though I hate people, I want to know what they're doing and where they are going at all times of day, I run two different traffic-monitoring programs on this blog. I am watching. Yes, this means you.
I get information about links or keywords that draw people here. What makes people stay is the real mystery, but they don't make software for that. Yet. I hear Freud-o-tron 2000 is in the works. It's ruinously expensive as it charges per use. And it comes in container in the shape of a giant fucking cigar.
Yesterday, as I was cataloguing visitors, entering the relevant information in my Excel spreadsheet, I noticed a keyword entered into a search engine that found its way to my blog:
"naked children pictures"
Now, I know it's a big world and there are lots of reasons someone might be looking for naked pictures of kids. I know there are people who have an academic or law-enforcement or vigilante interest in monitoring the places on the internet where pictures of naked children can be found. But you know, something like this has popped up once before on my blog and I kind of ignored it. The ick-factor wore off eventually and I forgot about it. But this time, for whatever reason, I was extra-irritated (too much red meat in my diet? Menstrual-related hormones? who can say?) and decided to look--just to look--to see where I could report something like this.
I had the ISP number and provider and a location. It was out of state, so I went to the FBI.
Hey, did you know there's a link on their site JUST for dropping crime tips? There really is! It's right here. Ha, I just totally ruined the Middle Eastern family in your neighborhood's whole week, didn't I? Teach them to complain about your neon Christmas-with-the-Osmonds lawn nativity scene.
I hemmed and hawed for a bit. I didn't really know I could do either, but I launched into a mad fit of hemming followed immediately by a frenzied state of haw. I didn't really want to waste anyone's time with what could be nothing and possibly distract the FBI just at the second when they were about to find Osama bin Laden living in a converted garage playing old PS2 games in New Jersey.
Plus, did I really want to become a Tipster? Once you go down that road, there's no going back. It's like virginity. My Tipster hymen was still firmly intact. The bell, she cannot be un-rung. I've seen it happen: once you start, next thing you know it's eight hours a day on the phone telling police about cars with too-dark window tinting, calling the electrical company to complain about all the birds on the wires until finally you hit rock bottom and you're... you're... God, I can't even fathom it... the guy who calls the AM radio station to alert them to traffic conditions.
The road is dark. It is slippery. It is steep. Also, it has a fender-bender off to the right side causing some minor slowing on the 91 between Green River and Weir Canyon.
Nooooo! That can't be me!
But come on, "naked children pictures."
OK, so I loaded up the form and sent it in.
I sat here, late at night, all alone, everyone asleep, trying to figure out what to do next, trying to tell if there was an urge welling up in me to call the people at a local TV station to report local weather conditions. Nope not so much. It was just me and my ordinary--
My phone. 10 o'clock at night. I have caller ID. It says "Private Number." I'm thinking "How did the pedophile find me already?!"
No, it was even scarier.
"Hello, Mr. Horrington III?"
"Yes," I says.
"This is (some lady whose name I didn't catch because I immediately had my brain scrambled by the next phrase) from the FBI."
"Holy fuck," I says. But not to her. Mostly in my head. Mostly.
"I'm calling about your tip."
And I'm so flustered, it doesn't even occur to me to make a dick joke there.
She says I should take my information and send it to one of two sites:
Both are dedicated to missing and/or exploited children. Lots of promises to contact relevant authorities or even ISPs. Very nice. Very helpful.
I remember to thank the nice lady from the FBI and reassure her that I am not nor have I ever been a member of the communist party. I think she wrote that down.
So that's my story of community involvement.
What did I learn?
I learned that the FBI, for all the negative press, is NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH.
I also learned that maybe not every single government agency is a giant pile of soulless bureacratic machinery completely unresponsive to the public it ostensibly represents and serves. They can actually be quite responsive. Almost immediately so. Even if it's only to shove you off onto another locus of complaint.
Further, I know that using the words together in my blog "naked children pictures" almost guarantees that I will get another such hit in the future.
But anyone who found this blog by using that string and who is reading this now, know: I won't ignore it. For I am a Tipster.
As for how my public involvement in this matter came back to bite me in the ass, well... you just try to sleep after the FBI calls your house after 10 pm.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0