Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Privacy? What's That?

As though life as an expat were not fraught with enough stresses, now I find that we have, in fact, no right to privacy whatsoever. And I'm not just speaking of being stared at everywhere I go - I already knew I didn't have any right to that kind of privacy.

No, I'm talking about the courts' latest decision that Americans living overseas are fair game for spying, and no warrant is necessary (though there is still a requirement of "reasonableness," whatever that may happen to mean in any given situation). I read about this here.

As an American living abroad, I consider it my patriotic duty to release my cellphone records immediately. So here, for the sake of national and international security, is a summary of my recent calls. All conversations have been translated into English.

First of all, probably 40% of the calls I receive are wrong numbers. Someone will demand to speak to Mimi, or Jean, or Fanfan, and then I will inform the caller that that person cannot be reached at this number. Usually the person then hangs up, though sometimes he or she (usually he) wants to talk to me instead, since I'm there. In that case I hang up in short order. I even get wrong number text messages, including one I have saved because I find it quite poignant: "I'm waiting for you under the stairs." I assume that the sender of that is no longer waiting there, since it's been several weeks now, but I wonder how long he or she did hang out under those stairs, thinking the message had been received by the right person.

I receive many phone calls asking when I will be home. Others are of the "I'm at the grocery store and what do we need?" variety. I also get calls asking for money, accompanied by heart-rending stories of woe. Last week I got a call that was a first for me - a student had a punctuation question. I enjoyed that one - it's seldom I get asked something that I can answer so quickly and easily, and with such confidence that I am correct.

As for the outgoing conversations, I make my share of the "When will you be home?" calls. Then there are the "We're going to be late because the car broke down" and "Can you please come pick us up because we are broken down?" calls. And the "Our power is out - could you please come fix it?" calls. It's been a while since I've had to make any "We won't be having school today" calls (though the last few times I've been doing that more by email).

Yesterday I had some calls to and from Santa, but that was not a code-name. I was trying to coordinate the "Pictures with Santa" booth at our Christmas Bazaar at school. My first Santa had to take someone to the hospital and was late because of that and my second was at a rehearsal for a Christmas concert and also arrived late. This was all high drama for me, but probably not so much for anyone who might want to tap my phone.

So you see, spy-type-people, monitoring my calls will be more likely to put you to sleep than to net you any interesting information. But if you still want to, go ahead. I have nothing to hide, and maybe you'll learn something about punctuation!

1 comment:

Janet said...

I'll be chuckling all day over Poor Whoever waiting under the stairs. I'm picturing children's book illustrations -- under the stairs in snow, under the stairs in rain, under the stairs in moonlight...