Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Reach of Big Brother

Well, well, well... I am back. With a bang, too! The most unimaginable thing happened, and is still happening, over this last week. Let me get right into it.

So, I go to Boston last week for this Pearl Jam Concert. I arrive at Boston's South Station, and I start clicking snaps around the station with my new Kodak digital camera as soon as I get there. I manage to click about 5 snaps, when I am stopped by this burly guy in a suit. Too bad I don't click his snap. Big guy asks me why I am clicking snaps of the train station. I ask him what business it is of his. Then he tells me he is from the Justice Department! Sure enough, he shows me his credentials too, and they seem okay.

Justice Dept dude asks me where I am from, and what I am doing in Boston. He tells me that security people in stations get nervous when they see people taking pictures around the station, especially after the Madrid bomb blasts. That seems reasonable, except that I also see another guy - a white guy, standing nearby, clicking snaps, and no one is saying anything to him. I begin to see the light. Realizing that I am not in a real position to argue, I slip my camera into the backpack, and leave the scene.

I think about it later, just curse myself for being of colored skin, forget about it, and go on with life. Until today. I come into my office in the afternoon, and I see a note stuck on my computer: There is a number on it that I have to call at the earliest. Mind you, at the time I see the note, I make no connection with the Boston incident of the previous week. Curious, I call the number. The call connects, and I hear a voice at the other end say: "FBI Office, please wait". I almost shit in my pants when I hear that. I then look again at the note in my hand, and turn it around. Its a visiting card - FBI Special Agent Ms. Clarice Starling (I had to choose some name...)! I am freakin' out.

Agent Starling comes on line at the other end. At the time, I am thinking - what did I do wrong? I am mentally checking off things I could be apprehended for - Flying lessons? No. Preaching radical fundamentalist Islam? No. Deriding the President? Wishing he were ousted? Well, yeah... but who isn't? As I am groping for a reason, Special Agent Starling politely asks me if I had been to South Station the previous week... and then, suddenly it is clear! I almost relax. I tell her that I was indeed in Boston the previous week. I acknowledge having clicked pictures there. Ms Starling wants to `talk to me about it'. I groan inwardly. Whatever for? I ask her so. She says `the matter worked up to her', and so she has to `follow through with it'. She apologizes for bothering me, and says the meeting won't take more than 10 minutes. Its not like I have a choice, do I? So, I set up a time to meet with her later this week.

The incriminating pictures of the station, and a few more, are here:
Boston Pictures


Anonymous said...

dude, your meeting with "Agent Starling" may proceed gracefully, but i'd worry about how many databases now have your name and other personal information. More importantly, if there's an entry in a shared database, every cop and law enforcement official can pull it up the next time they run a check. Your'e in the database, bro! Welcome to Club Profiled!

Anonymous said...

Man, I hope your interview doesn't end up with having your name on the "no fly list" or something else horrible.

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