Barbara Hartwell and Son Keith, 2005
None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.
Over the past couple years, I've noticed that surveillance and blatant invasions of privacy have escalated dramatically, almost everywhere I go.
Not that I didn't see it coming, and I've been warning others about this surveillance/snitch society for decades. But what is most chilling about all this is that most people seem to just accept it, as if it were fine and dandy, no problem at all.
It's not just the cameras on traffic lights and at toll booths, where your every move is tracked and recorded, even inside your vehicle. You can't even shop for groceries anymore without encountering harassment at the cash register.
Just a few examples from my own experience, involving Hannaford and Wal Mart. First let me say that I would certainly boycott Wal Mart totally if I were not so poor that the money I save going there (and only occasionally for certain items) did not make the difference between getting some necessary items and going without completely. Otherwise, I hate Wal Mart, and for many reasons other than the obvious.
Recently, I found it necessary to make a trip to the Wal Mart in Portland, Maine. As I unloaded my cart and stacked the items on the conveyor belt, I was accosted by the clerk, asking me if I had I.D. Whatever in the world for?, I asked. It was the bottle of wine, said the clerk. Apparently, he was checking to make sure I was "old enough" to purchase alchohol.
This was nothing new, it had happened before, numerous times, in fact. So I gave him my stock answer: I was born when Harry Truman was president! And this is absurd.
What's more, the "legal" age to purchase alcohol is 21. Yet they are asking to see I.D. from me, a grandmother who will be 60 years old next year? They'll usually say that if a person looks as if they might be under 40, they "have to check". Why would they "have to check"? The "legal" age is 21, NOT 40.
Whenever this happens, I make a scene (no shouting, but I raise my voice enough so that all the other customers and employees get the point, and I take the opportunity to give a speech about privacy, liberty and God-given rights. About how this country is now a Police State, but it seems nobody gives a damn.)
But this time, it got even worse than just being asked for I.D. After I had registered my disgust, the clerk took my driver's license. If he were merely checking my I.D., to make sure I was "of legal drinking age" (what idiocy!) he would simply have looked at the date of birth and that would be that. But no, now he held the license up, and I saw that he was busy punching numbers into his computer.
Hold it right there!, I said. What are you doing, punching in personal information? No, said he, just your date of birth.
At this point, I told him, That is personal information, and you have no right to do that. This is an outrage! To which he responded, I have to do it, or I'll lose my job. That doesn't make it right, I said.
As of that day, I decided I would never buy wine at Wal Mart again. I also decided that I would go into Wal Mart next time with a video camera (and a camera operator as a witness), and demand to speak to the manager, and conduct an interrogation.
I will ask by what authority that a clerk ringing up groceries would have the right to ask a customer (a person obviously well over the age of 21) for I.D. And by what authority would they be collecting personal information which clearly invades privacy of their customers.
Does the government think they have the right to know who is buying what products, when, and where? Apparently, they do think they have that right. But they sure as hell don't, and speaking for myself, next time I decide to buy a bottle of wine, I'll go to a place where my business is appreciated and I'm treated with respect, even if I have to pay twice the price!
What's more, the clerk at Wal Mart lied to me. He was not "just entering my date of birth" into his computer, as he claimed. No, he punched in way too many numbers for that. So, the clerks at Wal Mart, in order to keep their jobs, must not only invade privacy, but lie to the customers about what they are doing and why.
Same story at my local supermarket, Hannaford. I've been asked for I.D. there on occasion as well. One clerk actually asked me, Ma'am, would you raise your sun glasses, please? To which I responded, Certainly not, but why would you be asking such a thing? She said she needed to "see" if I were old enough to buy a bottle of wine.
Again, I told the clerk, I was born when Harry Truman was president! Again, I made my position clear. And again, she insisted that she could not sell me a bottle of wine unless I could prove that I was old enough to buy it. I was also told, predictably, that she was "just following the store's policy" and that she would lose her job if she didn't.
I said, That's what the Nazis said, "just following orders". Now, she was visibly upset and insisted, I'm not a Nazi! Maybe you're not lady, but the people you work for certainly are. And the people they answer to (whatever happened to private enterprise and free market capitalism?) are tyrants in the government, and that is completely unacceptable!
This is lunacy! Now, a clerk in a supermarket is given discretionary power to decide, by just "looking" to see if a person is "old enough", if they will (or will not) sell wine to a customer?
What qualifies an uneducated supermarket clerk to decide who is "old enough" and who is not? Will they next have a carnival barker, an "age guesser" on the job? Where will this stupidity end?
Needless to say, I did not raise my sunglasses. I offered to show my driver's license. She replied, If that's what you want to do.....
No, no, that is not what I want to do. It is simply what I am willing to do to stop this foolishness, and be on my way.
Behind me on the line was a woman who decided to put in her 2 cents. Well, she said, I wish they would ask ME to see my I.D.
I just shook my head in disbelief and left the store.
More to come, that is, after I conduct my investigation and interrogations of store managers at Wal Mart and Hannaford.
Barbara Hartwell Percival
Defender of Personal Privacy
Enemy of the New World Order Police State
Born when Harry Truman was President!
February 1, 2010