Google-Mapping my route to a surprise party not long ago, I was somewhat alarmed to find my home documented on the usually helpful site with such frightening zoom-detail that I can almost pinpoint the date and time the snapshot was taken by the state of the bushes (neglected and weepy) and the lack of the latest pigeon to die on my roof (the current stiff has been there at least eight months).
From the aerial view I can almost see the ripples in my backyard pool. Yep, there’s my car, tucked away in its old spot to the left to make room for my ex’s junker; yes, thanks to Google I can revisit a snapshot from my dating past. And frozen in time is the plumbing truck in the driveway of my neighbor’s house (now bank-owned and left for dead). From the position of the sun I’d say it was summer.
Come to think of it, early last summer, I recall standing in the street, talking sinks and water heater blankets with the plumber when a banged up beater made its way sloooowly around our cul du sac, a camera mounted to the roof where a Domino’s Pizza sign normally would have been. Our mundane words hung midair while the unseen driver directed the car alarmingly close to the homes he recorded. My shock was surpassed only by the feeling of violation, the sudden lack of privacy. Like he’d driven the car into my shower.
But it gets worse.
Click on zoom just one more time and suddenly I’ve got a nose-to-mailbox street view of my house in all its stucco and Spanish tiled glory. There at eye-level is my Honda, license plate nearly discernible but for some blurring, the sheen dulled for want of a wash, the new sunshade screens I had saved up so much for, the hanging lavender plant dead in the little basket I bought for it; she never stood a chance in the summer heat. The two oleander bushes pose brazenly for the photographer in their wild and uncut adolescence just days before I finally reined them in, a vain attempt to boost property values in my increasingly abandoned ‘hood.
My shame and plant homicide documented and frozen in time in full-color, 2-D panorama. And why? So the military or the government can see for themselves whether or not I maintain my gravel, put my trash out on time, fix that loose roof tile?
The day a third oleander bush appears in that shot I’ll know the Google-mobile has came through again, checking out each house slowly and one by one, like it’s cruising for something naughty. But this time I’ll have been waiting for it, will have sprung from behind a freshly washed Honda, middle fingers a-flying, shouting “Google this you nosy son of a—!”