Despite the irony of me writing this in my blog, I’m actually a very private person. It’s not that I keep secrets, it’s just that I prefer to keep things to myself. I think it all started back in 7th grade when I asked a friend for advice. It was about how to get a girl to like me, and he suggested I make her a mix tape. So I did, and I put a lot of thought into it. The girl was kind of eclectic and I knew she liked Jurassic Park, Elvis and Madonna. I had also once heard her say that she liked classical music. So I ended up making her a mix tape including “You Were Always On My Mind,” the theme song to Jurassic Park, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and “Material Girl.” It didn’t go over well. I gave it to her on the school bus one morning and I watched her listen to it. Every so often her face would curl up in a confused wince, presumably when a new song (like The Beach Boys, another one of her favorites) came on. We didn’t talk much that year, and last I heard she married someone much older, presumably someone with more experience making mix tapes.
Ever since then, I’ve remained an introvert. Sure, I’ll share bathroom stories on my blog for the world to read, but most of the time I’m just hiding my fear and disillusionment behind measured words and punch lines. In short: I’ll invite you into my stories about the bathroom, but I won’t invite you into the bathroom itself.
This morning, though, my privacy was attacked. I was having some trouble sending emails, and my office’s tech support got me on the phone with Verizon customer service. I was speaking with a nice woman with a friendly accent who ran me through all the usual drills to locate the problem. No luck. Finally, she asks me if it would be alright for her to “access my computer.”
I have no idea what this means. In my small mind, I assume this is some sort of terminology that is lost in translation – like she was asking to look at my account history or do a credit check or something. All I know is that I can’t send email and I have a really funny response to an email from my friend that has to get out ASAP.
She has me go to a website and type some stuff in. Then all this stuff pops up on the screen, some “agreement” that I’m supposed to read, and I just click OK. Suddenly, my cursor is moving across the screen on its own. My ethnocentrism has come around to bite me in the ass – “access my computer” means exactly that. This woman with the friendly accent is IN MY COMPUTER WHILE I AM SPEAKING TO HER. (caps + bold = holy shit.)
My initial reaction is a composed panic. On the outside I am saying, “Oh, look at that! You can move around in my computer from wherever you are!” In my head I am saying, “HOLY SHIT, YOU CAN MOVE AROUND IN MY COMPUTER FROM WHEREVER YOU ARE.” I am immediately aware of everything incriminating on my computer. Granted it is my work computer, so it’s not like my wallpaper is a Lindsey Lohan crotch shot or anything. But take a closer look around and you will find the incriminating evidence. It’s like inviting a stranger into your house – maybe you didn’t leave the sex lube out on the night stand but you definitely forgot to pick up your underwear off the bathroom floor.
The woman begins clicking around on the computer with the blasé attitude of a psychiatrist who has been there, seen that. Across the bottom of my screen I have several programs running, including a web browser opened to a webpage of Japanese bug fight videos (don’t ask). Of course, she accidentally clicks on this and bring it up on the screen. I immediately scroll over to minimize it, but she moves to do the same on her end. The curser is flying across the screen, and I am making embarrassed noises like, “Whoops, haha, just, you know, videos.” The woman finally closes the window and apologizes, saying that she is having trouble seeing my screen on her end (likely because I use a very large screen at work and the resolution is so high, meaning everything is tiny on her screen). Next, she pulls up my Outlook.
I begin to sweat. It’s like she’s a police detective who casually came over for some coffee; meanwhile I’ve got dead bodies under the floorboards. The email that happens to be up in the preview screen is from, who else, Puppy.
A while back, Brooke and I created and email address for Puppy. Mainly it was to set up a new FreshDirect account so we could use a “first time customer” coupon. But then one day I was logged on Gmail as Puppy and noticed that Brook was logged on too, so I Gchat’d her, “Woof. When are you coming home? I’m hungry.” It became a source of amusement, and from time to time we send emails from Puppy to random people. This particular email was from Puppy to our neighbor asking them if they wouldn’t mind walking him after work tonight while Brooke and I were out. It read:
My Mommy and Daddy are alcoholics. (Sad.) All they want to do is go out after work and drink. Tonight they're at it again. Can you let me out back when you get home from work so I don't have to wait until they come home stinking of sake? If not, no worries. I was thinking of peeing on the rug. (Don't tell.)
Tell Cassidy I said woof.
So this is up on the screen and this woman with the friendly accent is trying to click on menus up top but constantly missing. Finally, she decides she needs to open a new web browser page and goes back to the Japanese bug fighting video. While this is on the screen, she moves up to the address bar and instead of typing the address in, goes to the drop down menu of recently viewed sites (because she had asked me to type in the site previous to her hijacking of my computer). But of course, she can’t see for shit so she clicks on the first link even though it’s not the one she wants. What pops up on the screen but the celebrity blog WWTDD, with this picture:
Awesome. At this point, I just throw my hands up in the air like, “Hey, want to hear about when I lost my virginity?”
Back to the email from Puppy she goes and I’m kind of just chuckling at this point. I don’t know who’s regretting their decision more right now, me for letting her access my computer or her for accessing it. And even though the pangs of discomfort were many and harsh, by the end of the phone call, as the woman with the friendly accent finished fixing my computer, I was nearly at ease with her poking around in my life. I almost wanted to show her the response I got to Puppy’s email or who won the bug fight, the Scorpion or the Rhinoceros Beetle.
As I thanked her and hung up the phone, I immediately learned the flip danger of letting people in – once they’re there, you might not want them to leave.