big brother is no joke.

and i think he’s married to the nanny state.

a few weeks ago we got our bill for trash pick-up from the seattle public utilities company. there was a charge for extra garbage, which was curious, since we never put out extra garbage. i called them and they let me know that you can be charged for extra garbage if they find extra garbage near your can. or if they find junk on the ground that could have come from your can. or if your lid is not on securely. or if your trash bag is sticking up above the top of the can. or if the can exceeds the weight limit for your size can.

now in seattle, you pay for your trash pick-up according to the size can you have. in detroit, we were blissfully unaware of the amount of trash we generated. there was one flat fee- remarkably small- tacked onto some bill or other (i think maybe our water bill?) that came once in a  long while, and it was such a tiny amount that we never even noticed. for this itty bitty sum we could throw away things with wild abandon, never stressing about things like having birthday parties that generated gift wrap. (this is no joke by the way. at a recent bridal shower at our house i had to ask the guest of honor if she could take home the discarded wrapping paper because i knew she had more room in her trash cans than i had. how cringe-worthy…) some would argue that this is a really good thing, and i have to admit that i am much more aware of the trash that we generate. i now realize that our refuse has to GO somewhere and i think before i buy something or throw something out about where i will put it and where it might end up. but it hasn’t made me care more about the environment; it’s just made me way more stressed out.

anyway, i kind of assumed that paying so much more for the trash pick-up entitled us to a certain level of customer service. like not getting hassled if our bag protruded slightly over the lip of the can. like, are you serious? we pay a boatload of money for you to collect a small amount of trash that i am struggling to fit into the tiniest possible can and you are gonna spilt hairs with me about whether you can see the bag peeking out under the lid? sigh. they waived the fee this time, since it was (or possibly wasn’t, since they didn’t document why they had dinged us with the charge) our first offense. duly noted, but now i am officially on trash patrol and trash alert. trash hyper alert. trash hyper vigilance. *h says not to worry because he will take care of the trash, but he is a “live and let live” laid back kind of guy and i don’t know if he brings the kind of OCD kind of hyperawareness to the fore that is needed for this vital new crucial endeavor. because now that we know how important every detail is, how could we possibly fail???

this morning as i was driving home from taking the kids to school i noticed several new cameras mounted on the traffic lights. normally this would unsettle me.

today was no exception.

there used to be one flashing camera that would take a photo of you at a red light. that was aggravating, especially when i heard that the state of washington has a track record of issuing bogus tickets for red light violations that aren’t really.

the last one was to a woman who wasn’t driving her car. she leant the car to someone who was in a funeral procession. even though they were able to prove that the car had been a part of the funeral procession, and that she was not driving (remember that there was a PHOTO of the driver in the car…), the state only agreed to waive the actual cost of the ticket, but not the administrative costs associated with the issuing, and then with the fighting of the ticket. yep- they wanted her to pay all of the fees incurred with fighting the ticket that they admitted they were wrong in issuing.

i heard a study that they deliberately shortened the yellow lights where there are red light cameras so they can issue more tickets for failure to stop, and if they would lengthen the yellow by one second, they could hugely decrease the accident rates at those intersections. but they won’t do it because it would decrease their revenue from those red light tickets.

anyway, there are now a bunch more cameras, and i don’t know if they are planning to make them red light cameras or just spy-on-you cameras, but they annoy me all the same. why do they want to watch a bunch of people sitting at red lights? what do they hope to find out about a bunch of nobodies sitting in traffic in the middle of a very lower middle class shopping/residential area? who exactly are they looking for and what are they looking at?

i am for sure ideologically in the “people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing” camp- but it also bothers me on a core level to be spied on for no reason. i don’t really care if they see me driving carpool in my pajamas or they know that my kids hold their coats on their laps instead of wearing them. i can’t articulate any logical reason that it should irritate me that there is some government official somewhere who wants to collect info on me and my fellow humans, except for the gnawing feeling that eventually if they have that info, they will need to justify their having it by using it in some way.

and i guess that’s the troubling part.

because, excuse my cynicism, but wtf, government? why do you have to micromanage my life? why do you have to be in my business all the time? why do you have to decide what my agenda should be and steer me and coerce me and spy on me to ensure compliance? why do you have to be my big brother and my daddy in all kinds of unhealthy ways?

why are there cameras on every corner and rats in all my trash cans?

and what’s with the agenda against gardens in the front yard?????