My original intent tonight was to post a tale of two post offices—a compare-and-contrast piece between the always-busy-as-hell-no-matter-what-time-of-day-or-year post office in Los Feliz and the surprisingly efficient and hassle-free experience that is the post office behind the Federal Building in Westwood.
Since I work not that far from Westwood, I often visit that post office and am always impressed with the courteous staff, the absence of long lines, and the ease of sending out a parcel from that location. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone on my lunch break today. Conduct a little research, mail off my package, whoopdee-freakin’-do.
Unfortunately, I also had the bright idea of taking a few photos of the Federal Building.
It’s fairly ugly architecturally, but in a certain light and from a certain angle the building does have its qualities. Plus, I thought the massive concrete structure would look dramatic up on this site. So after mailing my package, I went to the east end of the building, snapped a few pictures, and then started walking back to the parking lot.
As I approached the building, a security guard exited from a sliding glass door and said his colleague noticed I had removed a camera. Taking pictures of the building was not allowed, he explained, and I’d have to delete the pictures. Not wanting any trouble, I agreed and asked him if he wanted to erase them himself. He gave me the okay to do it, so I began deleting them.
As I was deleting them, he asked me to move closer to the doorway, the reason for which I thought was to reduce the glare on the viewfinder. But after I finished, he thanked me, and said, “Oh, really quickly, could you take a look at the President up there?” and pointed to Bush’s portrait up on the wall.
I wasn’t really sure why he wanted me to do that, but I looked up and, dammit, that goofy grin made me smile and laugh out loud. Maybe it was a nervous reaction. Anyway, it took all of half a second for me to realize they were making sure my face was caught by a security camera.
Crap! Now my stupid, black-bearded mug has been immortalized on federal surveillance equipment.
Now I’m not sure how to feel. The security guys were nice enough, and I can certainly understand the no photos policy. They didn’t ask me for my name, fingerprints, or a DNA sample, but I’ve watched a little too much X-Files to not be concerned about having my face captured on their cameras.
Is there a legitimate reason for me to freak out? Am I now on some list? Does this go on my permanent record? Will I be under surveillance? Will I still be able to get on a plane in July for a family vacation? And most importantly, are they going to intercept my mom’s gift in the mail?
Anybody out there ever gone through anything similar?