An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I'll take "Albums By the Police" for $400, Alex

Despite the many many times I've seen it happen, it still never fails to astonish me when we the "liberry" staff can be talking about a person we haven't seen in months only to have them walk through the door hours or even minutes later. I call it Don't Say The Name, It Gives Them Power syndrome.

Wednesday afternoon, the subject of Conspiracy Guy came up. I don't even recall how it came up, exactly. I think Mrs. B was telling Mrs. A about Conspiracy Guy's last appearance as an example of patrons who get upset when asked to provide a driver's license number to get a library card. We all laughed.

Two hours later, after the rest of the staff had departed for the day, in he walked. It almost startled me to see him, as though he had known we were talking about him and was coming in to get angry about it. Nope.

"Do you guys have one of those... um. It's about this big," he said, holding his hands out about two feet apart, "and you use it to... You put the pages together and it clips them with the little plastic thing?"

"Uhhhh, do you mean one of those report covers, with the clear cover and the little plastic clip on the end?"

"No. No. This is big. About this big." Again, with the hands out. "You bind pages together with it, for like, booklets."

"Mmmm, I don't think so."

"They're about $100 bucks—more than a person could really pay for. The college used to have one, but theirs is broke. Do you guys have one?"

"Uh, no. No, I don't think so," I said again, still not entirely sure what he was talking about. Conspiracy Guy just stood there looking at me for ten seconds or so, as though I was suddenly going to realize that, Oh! Yes, indeed we do have such a device. And, what do ya know, here it is behind the counter! You can have it!

"No, that doesn't sound like anything we have," I added. He stared at me some more, but eventually gave up on that quest and turned toward the floor shelf where we keep our library card applications.

"Do ya'll still have that policy that you have to have a driver's license number to get a card?"

"Yes," I said. "We do still require that."

Conspiracy Guy looked like he might snarl. "That's just..." His voice trailed off, but I got the impression he was about to say "crazy."

"You know, they just passed it into law that we all have to have bio-metric drivers licenses. It's a national database."

"Yeah, I heard something about that recently, but I haven't looked into it in depth," I said. I'd actually heard exactly what he had just said, but it was in the traditional Internet Rumor Spam format, so I hadn't given it much thought.

"They said it was just the states doing it on their own, but now they've had to admit it's H0meland Secur!ty doing it. That's why I wanted the binding thing, so I could put some books together and maybe try to tell people about the rights they're about to lose. Not that they'll do anything about it."

"Ah," I said. I could feel my lips, cheeks and forehead tightening up in preparation for a good bout of stone-facedness. It was for naught, though. Conspiracy Guy turned away and said he would go have a look around upstairs. And I'm almost certain he was going to go have a look around for the mystery binding device that we were clearly hiding from him.

While he was gone, I figured I'd look into this driver's license national ID card to see what was up with it. I had heard some news stories about some standardization being legislated, but until the rumor-esque e-mail that had been circulated to me, I'd not heard about bio-metrics being legislated. 

After a cursory Google search, I found a few sites with news about it, but nothing that startled me too much. I initially found: From Christian Science Monitor, Joe Huffman's Blog, International Card Manufacturer's Association, and two links to reports on how my very state of residence is jumping into the bio-metrics pool with both feet, at Find Biometrics.com and HomelandDefenseStocks.com.

I've since gone out and tried to find actual conspiracy-related links about them. Most of what I've found is about state's allowing illegal aliens to have drivers licenses, but I did find a few more traditional conspiracy pages in this vein by Googling "national i d card con spiracy". If you're interested, you can go look and make up your own mind. Most of the sites I found read like semi-delusional ramblings from people, some of whom cannot spell the word NATIONAL, jumping with great force to as many sinister conclusions as they can reach. Doesn't mean they're wrong, per se, but I have no difficulty imagining a dozen Conspiracy Guy clones sitting at their computers, banging out this stuff in between trips to their local "liberry" to inquire about the use of mystery binding-devices.

Even more alarming, many of these sites currently seem to be big supporters of Hilary in 2008.

Conspiracy guy came back down after half an hour. He declined to say anything more to me. We'd hidden his binding device too well.

Well-played, Clerks.

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