A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting some of the FBI’s finest over my lunch hour regarding what WAS to be my first blog post on this site. It was a fun diversion, and (in retrospect) the highlight of my wife’s week.
The plan for the blog post was simple: Email a bunch of small-town city governments with some asinine questions about their community, wait for the hilarious dialog to ensue, then post the best conversations on my blog. I was inspired by some of David Thorne’s work on his site 27bslash6.com as well as James C. Wade’s “P.S. My Bush Pig’s Name is Boris.” (By the way, fellas, I apologize if the FBI ends up taking up your lunch hour someday. I mentioned you both to the agent with the pencil and clipboard. You’re now on his list.)
Here’s the email I sent:
My family has been considering moving to your fair city, and we had a few questions about the community. We like what we’ve heard about the family friendly nature of the town, and the lack of overly restrictive housing covenants/ordinances/mandatory inspections. Some towns might consider our taste in landscaping and exterior décor “eccentric,” or as our last town’s city council put it “offensive and outside the limits of ‘free speech,’” but we trust that this will not be the case in your open minded community.
So, on with our questions:
1. How many pets are allowed per residence? Do you have separate limits per species? If we own multiple properties, do the limits apply to each property, and if so, can we average the number of pets per property and just house them all at the main residence?
2. What is the curfew for children under 4?
3. What is the maximum breaker box capacity allowed by code? Similar to the pet question, can we average the capacity of all our properties?
4. Is the city setup to receive up to date data from NASA’s Geo-coded Residential Satellite Flyover Schedule, and if so, is this data published for the public to view? Can we get a copy of this schedule?
5. Can you recommend a good trenching company in the area?
Thanks for taking the time to respond. We look forward to getting to know your inhabitants better in the coming months. One last question – I run a small hobby salmonella farm for a well funded university research project. I take every precaution to ensure my specimens do not enter the ground water, and have not had any major incidents since upgrading my filtration system in ‘97. I didn’t see anything in your city ordinances that would prohibit this research, but I wanted to ask just to make sure. I’d be happy to facilitate class field trips if the local schools would be interested as well.
One little mention of a specific pathogen and ground water and just like that, you’re on a watch list.
So toward the end of my lunch hour, we get the knock on the door. The two agents identify themselves and ask if they can come in to ask a few questions. It went something like this: “We’ll get right down to it. You sent an email a few months ago about moving out of state and poisoning a small town. Why did you do it?”
Huh? This isn’t ringing any bells AT ALL, and my shock probably came across as a really badly acted denial. ”Well, no, nice agent-men, I did no such thing. And by the way, thank you ever so much for protecting our country and its citizens by performing your jobly duties day in and day out. I love all people and would never do such a thing and I don’t use email ever and WHY IS MY WIFE LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!” That’s a direct quote, I’m pretty sure.
The agents, not convinced, proceed to open their file on me. At this point, I relax a little, as I’m slightly comforted by the fact that you automatically get 100 man points when the FBI has a file on you. If they don’t gag me, shove me in an unmarked white box van, and drive me to Guantanamo, at least I’m up 100 man points, and that’s not nothin’.
“[email protected] – is that you?” And right then all the pieces fit together, and I remember my gag email plan. My wife is still looking at me funny, so I talk really quickly so as to appease both her and the agents simultaneously. ”It joke. Send email get back ha-ha. Put on internet. Friends go ha-ha. Ha-has go viral . . . ” Agents write down viral. “Ach! No viral. Contagi . . . NO! SEO best practic . . . AAAHHHH! Friend tell friend tell Kevin Bacon! Me famous now. I mean, DAVID THORNE AT 27BSLASH6.COM MADE ME DO IT!”
Right about then, my ten year old son walks in the room and helps smooth things over by telling the agents how he designed the Fire Breathing Pig logo for me and it was all his idea. I pretty much let him take the fall from here on out. My wife finally exhales, the agents wrap up with a few questions about my knowledge of chemistry/farming/pathogens, we agree upon my lack of nefarious intentions, and they leave with a handshake and a promise to deflect any further inquiries from any of the other two dozen or so small town governments that I had emailed.
It was a good lunch hour. I had spaghetti.