And So It Begins

Your phone rings. You don’t recognize the number, but it’s a 202 area code and caller ID says IMPORTANT. You answer. A voice says hello and then your name. They tell you their name, but you don’t remember it and they also tell you they’re from a three-letter agency. (We’ll just call it the TLA for now.) Or maybe they’re a corporate type contracting with the TLA. You’re not sure. It’s all a little overwhelming, a little confusing, as they tell you things about yourself that you don’t tell most people, like the website you were browsing last night. Oh, goodness. Right as you are about to lose your mind about all the things the TLA knows about you, the voice on other end of the phone breaks off to ask you for help.

“Help?” you ask.

“We need your help,” the voice says.

“What kind of help?

“There’s this thing happening on the internet. We’re not really sure about it. We want you to track it, figure it out.”

“What thing on the internet?”

“The thing. You know … the thing.”

You don’t know. You don’t have the foggiest idea, not a clue, not a glimmer of a whisper of dawning of a notion, but you also don’t want the voice to go back to narrating about the things you’ve done on the internet. No no no. No, thank you. So, instead, you respond: “Oh, the thing!”

“Yes,” the voice confirms. “The thing.” And it says it with such certainty that you almost think you know what a thing could be. But then you remember you don’t know what the thing is, not a clue, not a glimmer, not a dawning, not a notion.

But even as you scratch your head, the voice continues, “We’ll need your first report by date.”

“Report?” you start to sweat a little because while it’s good for the voice not to be reporting back to you last night’s web surfing session, you didn’t know there would be deadlines, let alone reports.