Dispatch from the Zone – Big Brother Knows Where You Are


Most of you are familiar with Overseer, one of the managers I support here in my job. He’s the classic cheapskate. When he took a one-year ex-pat assignment overseas, he actually had someone at the company ship his underwear to him that he had forgotten to pack, rather than just buy new where he was. Hand to god, I am not making this up. He pulls down a six-figure salary, better than three times what I currently make. His wife is also a professional who makes damn good money when she works, although her work history has been spotty the last couple of years. She’s out of work right now, got laid-off from her last job (I suspect they were kind and laid her off rather than straight-up firing her by the stink he made about how annoyed she was that she hadn’t left on her own terms, intimating that she had been hoping to give notice but they beat her to it. Read into that what you will). She’s been collecting unemployment as a result.

So now, they just got back from a two week trip to Spain and France. If you’ve been on unemployment, you know you have to check in weekly via phone or internet and answer a series of questions about your status. One question is whether or not you were away from your home for more than three days in the previous week, I guess to see if you were actively looking for work or maybe away on vacation spending money you don’t need to collect from them. She answered no. And here’s where it gets interesting. She got a letter back from them stating their records indicated that was not correct and is now being investigated. If they find out she was gone her unemployment will be reduced. She did continue to do some job searching over the net while away, and in fact has a job offer now, so how that will figure in I don’t know. But apparently the two of them felt that because she was able to continue the job search while overseas it was unfair to have to report that she had been gone and therefore not be entitled to collect her $416 dollars for that week (which, I might add, is twice what I got when I was unemployed).  So how did they know she was gone? That’s the question! Possibly from her social media activity. They apparently posted stuff on their social media sites (whichever ones they use) during the trip. Be warned. Even if you’re not trying to put one over on the Man, your social media activity is being watched.

I am just so appalled that these people who are not in financial straits by any stretch of the imagination would lie about being gone for a couple of weeks. To Europe. I wish I could afford to go to Europe. Maybe in my next life. I’ve had to sit and listen to this guy pontificate about how everyone should be putting aside money for emergencies, it’s just a no-brainer, blah blah blah. He has no idea what it’s like to live from paycheck to paycheck, with nothing leftover to put aside. Not a clue.

And the second lesson to take away from this is to watch what you do online. He’s pretty sure it had nothing to do with the passport checks or the airline tickets (which they got months ago) that triggered anything. While I think they’re getting what they deserve for lying about being gone, I do find it disturbing that people’s movements are being tracked like this. If this had happened to me, you better believe I wouldn’t be in the office complaining about Big Brother catching me in a lie, but he apparently feels so entitled to this pittance (seriously this is like chump change to him) that he thought nothing of telling me this whole tale this morning.

And to see people who really are in financial straits, I direct you to We Are the 99 Percent. This was tweeted out by Arianna Huffington, who famously is richer than God and doesn’t pay the writers on Huffington Post. I find it insulting that she (or one of her minions tweeting on her behalf) would tweet this out, as if she’s suffering right along with the rest of us riff-raff. And no, I don’t follow her. It was retweeted by someone I do follow, who got it from someone they follow, who apparently follows her. So like a fourth-generation tweet. Overseer and Arianna would probably have lots to talk about.

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16 thoughts on “Dispatch from the Zone – Big Brother Knows Where You Are

  1. maryjblog says:

    What a fool AND a cheapskate, that she’d lie to the gov’t over $416, when she can afford to go to Europe. Has it occured to these idiots that it might be something as simple as she responded by internet at some weird time of day, Pacific US time, not taking into account the time diff, and that the unemployment office took a look at the server from which she was transmitting her message? I don’t think that’s any more big brother-ish than providing unemployment beneifits in the first place: if you want to take The Man’s money, you should understand that The Man wants to keep track of your whereabouts.

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  2. Digital Dame says:

    I know, it boggles the mind. These two are hardly on a shoestring budget. In a way, I can kind of see Overseer’s point that these days, you really can continue a job search from anywhere in the world via the internet. It’s not like people are pounding the pavement, resumes in hand, knocking on doors. I don’t think time of day would be the trigger. If you’re out of work and online in the dead of night, insomnia from stress would drive me to do anything to occupy my mind. It’s more like they could see where they were logged in from, and if they posted vacation pics on their FB page, slam dunk. I just couldn’t get over the way he carried on to me about this. It’s like the lord of the manor complaining to the scullery maid how poor he is.

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    • maryjblog says:

      Don’t doubt for a minute that he’s aware of that – he gets to complain about money and brag about how well off he is, all at the same time.

      I agree that you can do an online job search from anywhere, but I know how packed out days were in Ireland last summer, and I don’t believe for a minute that she had any more time to jobhunt that I would have.

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  3. Digital Dame says:

    Good point. If you’re on vacation in Europe, how much of an effort are you *really* going to make to surf the web? So yes, technically he’s correct, it can be done, but the likelihood seems remote. He was claiming she had all kinds of time-stamped emails and whatnot to prove her case. We’ll see what happens, I have no doubt I’ll hear more about it.

    Oh he definitely likes to brag. He is nothing if not pretentious.

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  4. startingoveringermany says:

    This reminds me of an email earlier I wrote of people lying for the stupidest reason. Why not just fest up to what they did wrong and get it over with. It will give them less stress and worry about the whole situation. People are track so many ways when they do not pay cash or have to show a documents. Now that is a no brainer, lol.

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  5. Digital Dame says:

    Exactly! And it’s not like it’s a huge amount (for them, it would be a lot of money to me). Now if she gets fined for lying too… oh well. And you’re right, there are too many ways they can track these people. They may have alerts set up once someone is in the system to claim benefits.

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  6. rosie49 says:

    It is no secret that HR folks and college admissions staff use facebook to vet candiates/applicants. Yet users still persist in over-sharing about all sorts of things. Is it true that FB “owns” your content? I’ve heard that from a few sources but never read the fine print of the user agreement myself. I find that even more egregious in a way. That said, these folks should never be crying with a loaf of bread under each arm. Really, now…. all he’s doing is drawing attention to his wife’s “problem” … and such a problem to be taking a vacation from your unemployment. Just don’t lie. Problem solved.

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  7. Digital Dame says:

    Ayup. I guess they never figured the government was savvy enough, or had enough time on its hands to employ these measures of checking up on people. According to FB’s TOS you own your content, but give them the right to use it (royalty-free) when you post. Their terms are here (and not as dense and impenetrable as I feared, although I should have read them long ago anyway).

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      • maryjblog says:

        I have a friend – a very nice, very smart woman but a bit neurotic (worries too much about whether people like her) who spent a lot of time on Facebook and found that it was wearing her out – too much oversharing, as you say. She finally went cold turkey & is all the better for it.

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      • Digital Dame says:

        It seemed like a good idea, a nice way to keep up with people you don’t see often, or get around to calling or e-mailing or (god forbid) writing! And actually with my kids it can work pretty well. We all know they don’t actually answer their phones, they only respond to texts most of the time, but I have discovered they are fairly responsive when I message them on FB. So it has that going for it. Apart from that, I’d probably delete my account. Oh, except for the guitarist from the Norwegian band, John Snow (I did a post on them about a year and a half ago). We’re friends on FB now 😉 LOL He’s such a character.

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  8. maryjblog says:

    I never even bothered w/text messaging until I found that it is absolutely the best way to contact my loved ones who have teenaged/20-something kids, and it really does beat calling home an checking the machine all the timed. My cell phone provider added 300 txt messages to my plan for an additional $5/month, so it really has been useful.

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