A friend of mine has owned a blood lab for the past couple of decades.  She enjoys her job of working with people and she’s good at it.  She lives in a small town on the East Coast and the other day she shared a “new thing” that’s starting to happen in her small lab that bears greater witness to the ever-changing world suffocating us.

My friend’s job is to process people who come to her lab to have their blood drawn.  She used to run an independent lab, but several years ago, she sold out to one of the big labs on the East Coast.  She processes the people at the front desk and her aim is to keep the line moving.  That usually isn’t a problem but, sometimes, in the hour before 9:00am, the line can bog down with walk-ins from the street who don’t have an appointment.

The new thing my friend is starting to have to deal with — that she didn’t have to manage five years ago — is her phone ringing if the line is too long.  She’ll be processing people and then a call will come in from corporate headquarters asking her why the line isn’t moving.

The first few times it happened, my friend was a little freaked out.  How did corporate know the line was long?  Was she being watched on camera?  Was her computer ordering system somehow tracking her?  Corporate would not tell her how they knew.  They wanted her to wonder how she was being watched.

My friend finally figured out she was being ratted out by some impetuous person in the line before her who was either texting, emailing or calling the corporate office on a cellular phone while waiting in line.  She figured it out by announcing random, but specific, wait times when the line became longer than five people — “The wait time is 18 point 42 minutes” or “The wait time is 21 minutes and 98 seconds” — that would always guarantee a unison groan from the crowd.  By using different numbers each time, she was able to pinpoint that expressed wait time to a particular queue and then bind it to the impending call from headquarters as part of the complaint.

My friend was never able to find out the precise people who were wattling her good name — but she felt far better just knowing it was a stranger directly in her midst who was betraying her good work by deceit and not by some earned, omniscient, Panopticonic bully, eyeing her from across the continent.  She could handle a local scoundrel, but not one blindly casting stones from afar.

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