Hardly Mata Hari

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hardly Mata Hari

Here in the states, we have been hearing quite a few warnings of late, all concerning the issue of phone tracking. It seems we are just beginning to discover how smart those ubiquitous little smart phones really are. Turns out, whilst we may think they are merely riding along in our pockets or handbags, waiting patiently to be called into service when we wish to phone someone, text someone, take a photo, find a restaurant, or take our turn in the scrabble game we are playing with an out-of-state friend, what they are really up to is much more advanced, and dare we say, sinister. Apparently, up to one hundred times a day, these little guys are reporting back our various locations to .... well, I don’t know who they report to exactly. I guess that’s where the worry comes in.
Now, there are some serious issues to iron out here and I certainly don’t mean to downplay those in any fashion. But sitting here thinking about the information my phone would provide the powers that be, well, it just makes me giggle.
So join me, won’t you?.....

We are in a steel and glass office building somewhere in the northwest. The walls of the building are glowing in the afternoon sun and scores of brown suited men in red ties and weejuns are scurrying to and fro like crickets, scowls being the predominant expressions of all. We zero in on one particular little fellow in an overcrowded elevator on his way up to the 31st floor for a meeting with his superior, Mr. Jobs. The little man’s name is Perkins, and when we first see him, he is nervously rifling through several wrinkled pages of a dreadfully thin file, all the while casting surreptitious glances at his fellow passengers on the elevator, all of whom are carrying files much, much thicker than his own. He spots someone he knows, swallows hard, and speaks:

Perkins: “Um, sorry to disturb, Owens. But might I inquire... um... could I ask... just who are you tracking these days? That looks like a really large file you’ve got there.”

Owens: “Boy, you said it! I haven’t had a moment’s rest in weeks! This Jolie-Pitt clan are always on the go. New Orleans one day, Namibia the next. Lord, Perk... we went sky-diving last week! And all those kids! One cute little girl grabbed me a couple of days ago and I was halfway down the toilet bowl before somebody fished me out. I tell you, it never stops! Fun though, and I’ve recently heard some pretty interesting conversations about our next location. Top secret stuff, and let me tell you, I’ll have stories to tell when we get back. Can’t wait to fill Jobs in, though. This is the kind of stuff he’s looking for, you know. Sorry to rattle on like this, I haven’t even asked what you’ve been doing! Who you tracking these days? I heard Kate Middleton was looking to buy an iPhone. Were you the lucky duck who snagged that one?”

Perkins looks at his shoes and mumbles.

Owen: “What’s that?”

Perkins. clearing his throat: “Um, well no. I’m afraid I’m not working the Middleton account just now. I’m still tracking Pamela Terry.”

Owen: “Ah gee, Perk. I’m sorry. I had no idea you were still on that one. Pretty boring stuff, I imagine”.

At that point the elevator doors open wide onto the 31st floor. Perkins and Owens step out into a hallway flooded with golden light that streams in through windows at least twenty feet high. They make their way along the corridor in silence, Perkins dragging his feet ever so slightly. Soon they enter an opulent office waiting room, dotted here and there with overstuffed red paisley chairs. Perkins sits off to himself, feeling a bit faint. He watches as several other brown suited, red tied men are called into the office of Mr. Jobs, most leaving with smiles on their faces, a few running out as though on fire. Once again, Perkins swallows hard, his throat as dry as a shredded document. When, after several minutes, his own name is called, he gets up shakily and heads into the office.

Mr. Jobs is sitting behind an opulently carved desk, wearing a black turtleneck and eating an apple. He looks up at Perkins and smiles.

Mr. Jobs: “Well hello there Perkins. What do you have for me today. Let’s see now, you are following Pamela Terry aren’t you?”

Perkins: “Yes sir, I am.”

Mr. Jobs: “Well, tell me now, she been up to anything interesting?”

Perkins: “Well, um... she planted a vegetable garden yesterday. Put in some cosmos and zinnia along with the vegetables. That was pretty radical I thought.”

Mr. Jobs looks up and frowns.

Perkins, continuing on in a timorous voice: “And of course, there are those daily, sometimes twice daily (!), dog walks. I tell you, that big white dog of hers is really something. You should see him! Um.... well let’s see... she’s knitting another sweater... a sort of grey blue colour. Really nice. And uh... um... well, she’s really been enjoying the new production of Upstairs, Downstairs. Hasn’t missed a single episode. And well, gee...um... oh yes, she’s memorizing The Jabberwocky. Lots of unusual words in that, you know. Quite a feat, wouldn’t you say?”

Mr. Jobs’ face begins to change colour, slowly transforming from a peachy tint into something more akin to a thundercloud. Without really thinking, Perkins decides, on the spot, to lie through his teeth.

Perkins: “Then of course, there was that trip to Washington last week”.

Mr. Jobs: “Washington?

Perkins, words tumbling out in rapid fire fashion: “Oh, yeah. And she’s been over to The Hague a couple of times, too. I’m not sure what it’s all about, but she’s up to something big, I can tell you, big!. A real Mata Hari she is. Never a dull moment. Sometimes I wonder how I keep up. She’s a challenge, and no mistake. And there’s something going on with that dog. Why, he might not even be a real dog now that I think about it. He could be a pooka. In fact, I bet he is! Give me another month, and I’ll knock your socks off. You just wait! Why there’s no telling what Pamela Terry and that big white dog, if he IS a dog, will be doing next!”

Mr. Jobs smiles, his colour returning to normal. He takes a big bite out of his apple and offers one to Perkins.

Mr. Jobs: “That's what we like to hear, Perk old boy! You keep up the good work”.