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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Is That a Keycard in Your Pocket…

(…Or Are You Just Porking the Wall?)

My office has seen fit to issue passkey IDs to all the employees. We use these to get into the garage, access the building, and to sneak up onto the roof for afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches. Because we’re all refined and shit like that.

Generally, I’m in favor of the keycards. They make us feel important, like we have VIP access to secret places the general public could only dream about. Never mind that most of those ‘secret places’ are gray windowless cubicles and drab, featureless conference rooms. Sure, any old schmuck off the street can see similar crap in the average library or YMCA center — but you need a keycard to get to these, baby. We’re special!

(‘Special’ in the ‘crash helmets and plastic utensils’ sort of way, perhaps, but still — special. And we get keycards. So nyah.)

My only beef about these magical access keys is in the way that people use them. Personally, I do what I consider to be the only sane and fashionable thing — I clip the keycard onto my belt. The card’s on one of those little retractable mini-leash gizmos, so it’s always handy when I need it. Even the gizmo — technically called a ‘badge lanyard’, apparently — is useful. If I ever need to keep a rat on a leash, or tie a flea to a hitching post, or strangle one of those yippy lap dogs, I have the technology. What wondrous times in which we live.

“If I ever need to keep a rat on a leash, or tie a flea to a hitching post, or strangle one of those yippy lap dogs, I have the technology. What wondrous times in which we live.”

I’ve seen some folks slip the ID on the end of a noosy sort of contraption, and wear it around their neck. Frankly, I’m not a fan. First of all, it’s not much of a fashion statement. How the hell do you accessorize? Do your shoes match your lanyard? Is your belt wide, and your ID necklace skinny? If you have long hair, do you wear the noose under your hair, or overit? What about the shirt collar? These are questions I don’t feel I should ever have to answer — or indeed, give a flying leashed rat’s ass about.

Mostly, though, an ID card hanging around my neck is just one more thing that could accidentally dangle in the john water when I’m sitting on the toilet. So, no thanks.

The ID necklace geeks aren’t the problem, though. They make look a little funny, but they’re not hurting anyone but themselves and Mr. Blackwell’s fashion sensibilities. I’m more concerned with the ‘stealth ID’ crowd, the people who treat the keycards like any old ID or credit card, and jam it in their wallet or pants pocket.

Subtle? Yes.

Convenient? No.

There’s a simple concept here that these folks are failing to grasp — the cards are needed to get through just about any door in the building. During the course of a day, you’re going to walk through a few doors. Sometimes, people sort of like me will see that your ID’s not handy and will hold the door for you. Other times, people exactly like me will see that your ID’s not handy, and laugh and point at you while you fumble to get it out. People like me are smartasses that way. Exactly that way.

Oho,’ I hear you say. ‘But aren’t those people harmless, too? They’re only holding themselves up at those pesky doors, right?

True. In theory.

Increasingly, though, the people who don’t grasp the keycard accessibility concept also don’t grasp something else — their damned keycard. More and more of them have the crazy idea in their heads that the cards can be read without actually pulling them out. And the craziest part of that idea is — they’re right. The cards will activate the door locks, even when shrouded in a skin of cotton, denim, or thin wallet leather. So, score one for the lazy crowd.

But score negative one, and then some, for the rest of us who don’t keep our ID cards in our pants, and have to watch these jackholes rub their privates all over the card readers when they need to open a door. I really don’t need to see Joe from accounting dry-hump the wall every time he’s coming out of the stairwell. Or to watch Edith in human resources give the door frame an asstastic lap dance when she gets to work first thing in the morning. That shit is helping no one.

If it were Tina in human resources, that would be different. I know guys in maintenance who’d install a camera in the card reader if Tina were getting butt-busy with the thing on her way in. Sadly, Tina’s a neck-wearer. It’s like a nudist colony — it’s never the ones you really want it to be, you know?

All the nad-grinding and ass-swiping makes me think twice about approaching a door around here, though. My ID card’s right here on my belt — outside my pants, thank you — but do I really want to hold it up to the reader? One little slip, and suddenly my fingers are soaking in god-knows-who’s crotch cooties on that thing. Ugh.

That’s why I carry a pair of salad tongs around the office now. If I need to open a door, I tong my ID, push it up to the reader, and step on through. No muss, no fuss, no cootie crust. The only downside is I’ve got nowhere to keep the tongs. So I put them on a lanyard, and wear it around my neck. Now I can open any door I want, but I’m scared to use the john. Irony’s a bitch, yo.

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