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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My Confusing Afternoon 

Or, How I Sold a Hard Drive to a Mysterious Person Who May Not Exist at a Secret Government Black-Ops Organization

Several years ago I purchased a MicroNet 80GB external hard drive. It worked fine, with only one crash many years in the past. Recently, I purchased a snazzy new – and much larger – SimpleTech external hard drive. Since I no longer needed the MicroNet drive, I contacted my friend Craig and asked if I could place a classified ad on his list.

Yesterday I got an email from a fellow named Frank* who expressed interest in purchasing the drive. I had suggested we meet at the lovely Hawthorne Library near my house, but he was unfamiliar with that location. He asked if he could pick it up during his lunch hour instead. We traded some emails, and this morning I told him I could drive the drive out to him. (Get it? Drive the drive?) He said sure, and gave me his address: 1600 Wayout Road. I punched it into GoogleMaps, jotted down the directions, and took off.

When I reached Wayout Road, I realized that I had made a supremely boneheaded mistake – I had written down the suite number, but not the street number! (Needless to say, I couldn't remember the number on my own.) I tried to look around for a building which seemed right, but after three attempts to wander into the right place, I realized I had no choice but to return home and get the four magic numbers. What a moron I can be!

But wait – there's more.

Once I returned home, I realized that 1600 Wayout Road is not listed on GoogleMaps. The last address indicated on GM is 1500! I emailed Frank (he hadn't given me his number yet) to ask about this oddity – he replied by describing how I could get to the building, and indicated that he would give me several extra dollars for my trouble. Convinced that GoogleMaps was – and is – infallible, I assumed he was confused and meant to write "1500 Wayout Road" in each of the previous three emails. Nevertheless, I gave it one more shot.

Lo and behold, when I returned to Wayout Road, I located a building at 1600 Wayout Road. I parked in the small lot and went inside, clutching the hard drive and associated cables. I was expecting to meet Frank, but I don't think I did – when I entered the small and clean office, I was met by the most unstereotypical secretary ever: He looked like Larry the Unfunny Cable Guy. He was in his early 20s, wore a baseball cap under his headset, and a sleevless t-shirt.

"Hi," I said. "I'm looking for Frank Smitherson."

Without expression, the secretary asked: "Are you Eric?"

"Yeah," I said, placing the drive and cables on the desk. Without speaking, Larry handed me some bills folded into a Post-It note and bound with a paper clip. He took the drive down from the higher desk and placed it on his workspace.

"It's so odd that this building didn't show up on GoogleMaps," I said. "Is it a new building?"

He blinked. "Couple of years."

I nodded. "Huh," I said. Then, unsure of what else to do, I left. I never met Frank in person.

As I drove away, it occurred to me that perhaps their company demanded that GoogleMaps remove any mention of their building? Didn't Dick Cheney once make such a demand? Or perhaps Frank and Larry work at a super-secret US government black ops organization. Maybe they'll use my hard drive to torture taxi drivers in Bagram. I sure hope not!

It was a most confusing afternoon.

* Names and other identifying information has been changed to protect the identity of innocent people who may not exist.


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Today I'm listening to: Seefeel!