A very paranoid friend of mine warned me about EZ Pass the other day. I am one of the few friends he has because I can stand still long enough for him to fill me in on his latest paranoia. His life would collapse and his head would implode if not for his acute sensitivity to black ops, black helicopters and men in black. He thrives on thoughts of Big Brother. But in one of those twisted sexual/fear related hangups, he gets a woody when contemplating using his ATM card. I have always thought it was because he knew somewhere deep in some NSA basement in Maryland his visit is logged and his face tagged. So, he only uses an ATM when he's horny.
This week he is calling himself Jim. Last week I think it was Ted something. He feels he needs to keep his true identity a secret from everyone. I have known him since we were both kids so I know his name is Mike. But I humor him. This week I call him Jim.
So Jim corners me at the hardware store. He is obviously wound tighter than usual. I can tell by the way he is furtively waving at me to meet him in the paint dept. I guess his wife wants to get an EZ Pass for the Turnpike. She commutes to Portland every day and I wonder why she keeps commuting home to Jim every night. Love is surely odd. Anyway, she wants to save a few minutes a week and write a check instead of finding change.
He starts in about how EZ Pass is just the start of a huge government conspiracy to track our wherabouts at all times. That once they have all of us using it, we will always be where they want us to be. I think this is an odd thought, but hey, Jim is an odd fellow and on a roll. He goes on to say that while they may not know exactly where we are, they will know what we are in between of. And that's almost as good as knowing where we are. He says it's the first step in knowing the exact spot we exist in at all times. I nod and say Hmm.
I ask him won't they just know what his wife is in between of. That since he doesn't have an EZ Pass, he will still be safe? He looks at me incredulously. "Who you kiddin," he says, " If they know where she is, it won't take em long to know where I am." I stupidly ask him how come. "Well, she always knows where I am, and they will always know where she is, so ain't it logical that knowin where she is means they know where I am?"
Hoping to escape this particularily insane train of thought, I refrain from shooting holes in his theory. I don't point out that EZ Pass is only used on toll roads and bridges. And I definitely do not feed his fire with a comment about the GPS options in new cars, or heaven forbid, that cell phone in his pocket. I don't make note that he's just a whacked out ex druggie who sparked up too much dust when he was a young punk. When Jim gets this manic, the safest and most expedient thing to do is - Nod and say Hmm.