It’s kind of scary. I mean, I know that Google Maps has everything recorded. Some family members recounted, a few years back, how they were shown raking the leaves in their yard on street level photographs. I guess everything’s part of your permanent record now. What was scary to me was receiving a letter with a picture of my house on the envelope. Yes, it was from an insurance agency, and insurance thrives on the feeling of vague threat that rattles around our primate brains most of the time. Is something or someone out to get me? Oh no! They know where I live! Maybe it was supposed to be friendly, like a good neighbor. It just didn’t come across that way. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.
Not that being recorded doesn’t have its advantages. We live in an older house, and like most older houses it has had some additions over the decades. That means the roof is complex. That complex roof turned out to be leaky also. When the roofer was trying to explain why he couldn’t do just the one part where the water was getting in (we have been re-roofing on an installment plan), I had trouble imagining it. You see, when you’ve got neighbors all around it’s pretty tough to get the right angle to examine your own roof. I googled our address and shifted to satellite mode. I zoomed in and found the layout of the roof. Screenshot and save. Otherwise I don’t think I’d ever have understood how complicated rain deterrence can really be.
But getting a letter in the mail with your own house on it—this seems to cross some kind of line. Yes, I like our place. I feel comfortable here. It’s got space for lots of books. It isn’t fancy, though. It still needs quite a lot of work both inside and out. And I like to spend my scant free time reading. It’s cheaper than buying all the lumber and tools I need to do things the way they should be done. Maybe if my job were driving around filming other peoples’ houses I’d make enough to have some contractor come in and fix things up. But the insurance agent knows where I live now. Covid-19 probably stops him from knocking at my door, but I do value my privacy. Like most things, being recorded is a mixed bag. Who couldn’t use a little extra anxiety once in a while?