Monday, March 1, 2010


Shift #24

FRIDAY, MARCH 5 -- 101 California to Levi Plaza -- $6.70

I AWAKE AT 3:30 with an icepick headache centered behind my right eye. Three days in a row now. Coffee and aspirin have knocked it back each day, but, dammit, there it is again. A large vanilla-hazelnut latte from Peet’s and three aspirin take a pretty good whack at it, and two early $40 airports also help. Each of the airport passengers had come to San Francisco for a computer security conference held at Moscone (featured speaker: FBI Director Robert Mueller) and each of them tells me America is in grave peril due to hacker threats originating mainly from Russia and China but also from hordes of rabidly committed, freelance internet jihadists.

The second one tells me, “There are people out there trying to dynamite our financial system, and the public really hasn’t caught on yet. Imagine waking up one morning and going to the ATM or going online and finding your bank account has a zero balance. Imagine no gas, imagine no food in the grocery stores for three weeks, no way to pay for it. Imagine the civil unrest in the streets. The media have done some reporting on this, but no one really wants to think about it. It’s just like before 9/11 -- there were plenty of warnings but no one took them seriously enough. Everyone thought someone else would take care of it. But every day, right now, there are jihadists out there trying to destroy the whole Internet. What’s coming is going to make 9/11 seem like the good old days. The Russians want our credit card numbers and the Chinese want our military secrets, but these jihadists are doing everything they can -- every day, right now -- to try to blow up the Internet and bring the whole system crashing down. Oh, yeah -- we are going to wish for 9/11 again...”

After this, I need another large cup of coffee plus a Noah’s bagel just to get myself back to even. Well, not exactly even -- truth is, by 8:16 a.m., the needle on my personal buzzometer is jumping around in the red zone, and that's when I see my free ride for the day flagging me from the spot in front of 101 California where people with Levi Strauss employee badges can catch a free shuttle bus over to Levi Plaza. Right off she asks about the procedure for finding something left in a cab: “Late last night I took a cab to BART and when we got there someone standing on the curb wanted the cab so I kind of rushed and I thought I heard something fall but it was dark and I didn’t see anything and so I talked myself out of it and just paid the driver and went to catch my train. And that’s when I found that I had dropped my BART pass in the cab and also my employee ID.”


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