Just pity poor security schleps listening to Mom’s calls


first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MAYBE they should rename that “Friends and Family” telephone plan to “Friends and Family and Secret Agents.” That’s thanks to the National Security Agency, which is monitoring about a gabillion domestic calls in an effort to seek out terrorists. As a result, every time I answer the phone I take a breath and ask: Can everyone hear me now? It has to be overwhelming for this entirely new breed of first responders. I feel it’s my patriotic duty to give them the 411 on my digits, so they can save time and cross me off their listener list. While the pundits are focusing on highbrow stuff like the Constitution and privacy violations, I’m worrying about the poor schleps wading through a data stream that’s overflowing faster than a New Orleans levee. Next to alphabetizing credit-card receipts, I can’t think of a more boring job. Hour after hour of potentially scary stuff like reminders to pick up a Prozac refill, milk, eggs and the kids (where did we drop them off?) and maybe some WMDs (can’t seem to find them anywhere). I’m sure their ears perk up for the occasional libidinous flirtation between an estrusogen-enhanced whisperer and a turbo-testosterone voice. After a while though, that must sound as thrilling as that teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” (“Bueller, Bueller, Bueller.”) It can’t be that easy to ferret out fishy phone calls. I’ve watched enough episodes of “The Sopranos” to know that the bad guys use code although when Tony says “Did you do dat thing?” it doesn’t take a Da Vinci Code-cracker to know “dat thing” probably doesn’t involve something declared on a 1099 tax form. Coincidentally, Tony and I both use dat phrase although in my case, “dat thing” usually involves some grade-school fund raising project for a product so infinitely impractical that purchasing “dat thing” is a crime in and of itself. And trust me that Dick Wolf isn’t salivating over the potential entertainment value in all this. Don’t expect some spinoff like “Law & Order: Eavesdropping Unit”: “In the criminal-justice system, the men and women with headphone hair are the dedicated listeners Kah Chung!” I’m sure they’re not sitting there adorned with Bose noise-reduction earpieces. After all, this is government procurement by the same folks who couldn’t get it together to armor-plate jeeps in Iraq. This snoop squad is probably wearing the equivalent of horn-rim glasses held together with a paper clip and Scotch tape. I know they say they’re not eavesdropping but looking for peculiar patterns of information. Quick. Short. Staccato. The kind of calls I make to my Mom: “I’m home.” Click. “My boyfriend is not a jerk.” Click. “I’m not talking to you about my boyfriend.” Click. It’s hardly the type of diabolical communication that should pique the interest of Homeland Security. Just the interest of Dad, who’s always unsuccessfully trying to promote domestic tranquillity. Hey, it’s in the Constitution. May I suggest a way for the White House to connect with the naysayers? Get those data geeks to focus on something that millions of Americans would idolize them for solving the greatest controversy of our time. Get them to nip a modern-day conspiracy in the bud. Was “American Idol” loser Chris Daughtry robbed by a phone-line glitch or what? They could put an end to the discord over his dismissal. Use that technology for good, not evil. Maybe then I could sing some White House praises. Stephanie Becker is a writer in Los Angeles.last_img

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