Maybe in your vague recollections, you remember Orwell's 1984, a required reading for most tenth graders. Or maybe you had to read The Jungle or Heart of Darkness. All such uplifting and inspiring books these. Read my sarcasm here. Troubling books all of them. In 1984, society was disturbing. Big Brother watched all that we did, and if we got out of hand, bad things happened. The media love to refer to Big Brother or 1984 when issues of privacy, or lack thereof come up.
It's not near as irritating as when they refer to "The Perfect Storm." PLEASE! Can they come up with some other way of describing a bunch of coincidences that create an unlikely occurrence? The next time I hear some lame guy say "a perfect storm" in his or her news story, I'm shooting off a complaint to the network.
But I digress.
Big Brother is alive and well. And if you ignore the creepiness of how much of our personal lives and histories are available via public records and/or the internet, then perhaps you can find comfort in the convenience of being known.
Take my investment company. No, I don't own an investment company. I have some of my paycheck going toward retirement, and this company takes my so many bucks a month and, on my behalf, they gamble in the stock market with it. I received a form a while back asking me to pick beneficiaries. After a few jokes to said beneficiaries about doing me in, I filled out the form and realized I had (gulp) missed the deadline. If I died now, my beneficiaries would be left penniless and homeless because I had neglected to send in the form!! I promptly called the investors and had to verify who I was. Did they ask my mother's maiden name? No. These guys were much more inventive. By accessing public records, they asked me two multiple choice questions that only I would know. These questions were such things as what was my mailing address when I lived in Macon. Macon!? Come on! That was almost twenty years ago! I can't even remember my last address from two years ago! I tensed. I perspired. I held my breath. The answers were given me to choose...And I knew!! Wow! I couldn't believe it! I had won! I knew my address from 1992-woo hoo! I wanted to kiss Bob Barker! But then I remembered this wasn't The Price is Right. And even if it were, he doesn't host the show any more. And also, there was that thing with the prize girls so...
My awesome investment company wanted me to pick my own prove-it's-me questions so that if my beneficiaries tick me off, I can change my info. without sweating over questions I may not remember. This was so good, I hit the repeat menu several times just so I could share it with you. It went something like this:
To pick your best friend from high school, press 1.
To pick your favorite restaurant, press 2.
To pick the name of your first pet, press 3.
To pick the model of your first car, press 4.
To pick the street where you grew up, press 5.
Oh no. Do they mean the first car I drove, the first car I learned to drive on, or the first car I owned? They were all different. My mind blanked. And the model? I could only think of Henry Ford's model T. That couldn't be right. I was definitely not pressing 4.
My best friend from high school? Please! I hated high school. Now, if they had asked me for the most hated nemesis, I could do that. Or could I? Would that be personal wish I had killed her enemy or the one I couldn't stand on principle? Okay. So not pressing 1 obviously.
First pet. Not so easy. We had pets from my earliest memory. Do they mean the first one that I owned personally or the first family pet I remember. Wasn't her name Samantha? Or could it be Maddie, the lab rat? Or Charlie, the dog who chased my dad down the hall. Or, Smokey. Or Santana. Or Bandit. Oh, wait. Wasn't Bandit Laura Ingalls' dog?
Which leads me to my favorite TV show. Oh, shoot. That wasn't one of the questions. It was my favorite restaurant. It depends on the kind of mood I'm in. Do I feel like Mexican tonight or pizza? Or Chinese. What the heck is the name of that Chinese restaurant anyway? Wasn't it the Pecking Palace? Or was it Peking?
The street where I grew up? Are we talking in my younger childhood or my older childhood?
Wait a minute. Wouldn't a ticked off beneficiary know the answers to most of these questions anyway?
Perhaps I should pick the wrong answer on purpose just in case.