Staying plugged in yields blessing and curse

Published 9:10 am Monday, November 16, 2015

Last weekend we retreated to the country for four days. In the deep recesses of the east Texas Piney woods, the Internet service was patchy at best. In fact, there was no cell service at all in our cabin. Without cable, cell or internet, we were totally disconnected. It was nice to be without email.

However, when you are addicted to contact, it’s a challenge to stay unplugged for any length of time. And what if something happened to Momma while we were gone? Our daughter figured out a way to get a signal without driving anywhere. All you have to do is walk across the country road to the boarded up convenience store, raise your iphone over your head, hold your mouth a certain way and, voila, you can suddenly make contact with another human. Sometimes, in that awkward posture, a text will also ping. Emails, on the other hand, do not flow no matter how high you lift your device.

By the time we got home at the end of the weekend, my mailbox was overflowing. A myriad of new job offers awaited me. I had no memory of applying for such employment, but apparently, I was just the person they needed. In fact, they could not wait to hire me. If I acted without delay, I could be in the next class to train as a parking meter technician. These positions fill fast, urged the email. Do not delay!

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Along with my unique skills, I would need to know how to use a jack hammer and a drill. For a moment I hesitated. I do love heavy equipment, but if I hurt myself, my husband will kill me. I moved on to see the next job. If I didn’t like rehabbing parking meters, I could sign on as a night stocker. Or perhaps a career in trench safety was more up my alley? Still not sure what that is.

I was just about to hit delete when an item from the bottom of the list caught my eye. Crime Lab Evidence Technician? With hundreds of CSI programs under my belt, I would surely be great at this! A picture of me in a black jacket with white letters flashed before my eyes. I stepped gingerly under the bright yellow crime tape carrying my gloves in one hand and the tools of my trade in the other. With great excitement, I clicked on it.

Instead of a detailed job description, a different page popped up offering to sell me something. You gotta love the Internet. It’s so full of schemes and scams, even the most cynical get taken in from time to time. A recent email promised to make me rich. “This is a mutual benefitting proposal to claim the bank deposit of late Craig Crouch, who died in a car crash on March 15, 2013,” he claimed. “I am his lawyer, Gavin Tyler.”

At least this guy’s spelling was good. The hack job from my sister in law last year after she had been “robbed at gun pont in Europe” was fraught with so much bad grammar, I could hear Sister Virginia Anne groaning in her grave as I read it. She needed $500 and she would definitely pay me back as soon as she got home. Of course she would.

There is always a “not quite right” feeling to emails of this sort. Even without typos and poor grammar, hack jobs stand out from honest emails like a speeding ambulance in the flow of traffic. And like a painfully loud siren, it is unnerving. Who comes up with this stuff anyway? Do they ever think about how painful it is for the victims? Getting hacked hurts. On second thought, it’s not getting hacked that is the hassle, it’s starting over with a new email that makes a person pull her hair out. The only good thing about getting fooled is the lesson learned in the process. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In the meantime, anybody have a recommendation for a really good spam filter? It’s time for an upgrade.