Darkside of the sun: Where’s Waldo? On the computer

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

My nephew Waldo has been out of work for 27 years, which happens to be his age. The other day, I ordered him out of the basement and into the car.

“We’re going to find you a job,” I told him.

“But… but… But I’ve almost cracked Level 74!" Waldo complained. “Besides, I can’t afford to work at Burger Paradise.”

“Sure, but how would you like to infiltrate Burger Paradise to bring down incipient labor movements, or depose democratic governments in foreign countries, or legally tap your girlfriend’s cell phone?”

Waldo looked either intrigued or bored; with him it’s hard to tell.

See, I know a man who knows a fellow who knows a guy who knows a gal who’s married to a person who works for the National Security Agency. So I took Waldo to a nearby Laundromat.

“Whose red dog is that flying a kite outside?” I asked no one in particular. Most people stared at me as if I was crazy, but the manager replied, “If you look closely you’ll see that’s a chartreuse cat.” We were in.

In the back offices, which had taken over most of empty storefronts of the mall, security cameras followed our every movement. Armed guards stood at every door. Beside every armed guard stood another armed guard, apparently to guard the guard. It looked as if Waldo might at least qualify for a security guard opening.

The “manager” objected to me going into the interview room with Waldo, but I flashed him my old reporter’s  ID.

“Right-to-know,” I said.

“Bull guano,” he said. “But, we’ll work it out later with the judge.”

I was in.

Didn’t matter, anyway. I didn’t understand a word.

Manager (tapping keys at a computer screen): Level 73? Not bad. World of Warcraft?

Waldo: Pshaw! Wartune. Anno Online.

Manager: Wartune! I’m DarkStrider there.

Waldo: BruteForce, your sworn enemy!

Manager: You’re hired.

They stood, clapped the other on the shoulder, shook three times and finished with Vulcan salutes. I must have looked dazzled. The manager laughed.

“Thought this boy was a slacker, did you? All he does is play games in your cellar, right? That’s the government’s training program. Only decent job opportunities open to most young people today are tech positions with NSA or Homeland Security, or with one of our contractors. It’s all in support of the new open society, where you don’t know anything unless you know everything.” He pointed to the NSA seal above the door. The motto read: You Don’t Know Anything Unless You Know Everything. The man said, “Waldo here will be pulling in 10 grand a month, starters.”

I must have still looked dazzled. “Wow,” I said, “To start?”

Waldo, however, tugged at my sleeve. “Play along. We have to get out of here,” he whispered. To the “manager,” he said, “I’ll need a day or two to think it over.”

“You’ve got 24 hours,” the manager shot back, somewhat threateningly.

In the car, I exploded. “You’re thinking of turning down 10 grand a month? Are you crazy? Are you that lazy?”

“Uncle, uncle,” he soothed. “Relax. I’m already making 15 grand a month, working online for the Swiss Secret Police.”

My mouth yawned open. Brave new world, I guess. We drove home. At the door, I finally managed a question. “Switzerland has a secret police?” I said.

“Shhh,” Waldo warned, “even the walls have ears.”

Mike Corrigan writes online to us from a location so secret even he doesn’t know where he is.

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