Friday, November 8, 2013

Raised To Be Suspicious

"Who would want to send a bomb to you? Why?" 

I started to answer in a comment to Reactions to a Mystery Gift.  Then I realized I was about to write another blog post.

The premise is that a package arrives for you unexpectedly.  What do you do?  Well, I already described what I'd do in that post that I linked to, above.  But why?

Ted Kaczynski, aka The Unabomber, targeted public technology figures.  When he was actively mailing bombs to people, I was an engineer at a high-tech company, and I sometimes made public appearances.  I felt that I fit the description well enough to be targeted.

One day I actually did receive an unsolicited package that had no recognizable return address.  So I walked up to a coworker with said package, handed it to him and asked him to open it.  It was mostly in fun.  He was a friend with a good sense of humor, and I think he appreciated how I stuck my fingers in my ears in case there was a loud popping sound.  I also said something to the effect that he was more expendable than me.  Whatever.

Well, the package of course did not blow up.  What was inside?  Promotional materials for a new website, TechRepublic, perhaps.

The criminal was caught more than 17 years ago, yet my first impulse upon receiving an unexpected package is to be suspicious.  When I wonder why, I realize that I was raised this way.  The bomb threats simply revived my train of thought on suspicion.

I was raised in New York.  Nothing's for free, especially in New York.  Free samples are used to entice you to buy a product, get you addicted, get you framed.  If someone walks up to you and hands you a can of spray paint, don't be surprised if, thirty seconds later, a cop shows up and puts cuffs on you for writing graffiti.

Street wise people know not to accept anything for free.  You don't pick up money on the sidewalk.  You don't go into a store that promises "Free Ice Cream."  You don't talk to the man offering the free lollipop.

Whoever said "The best things in life are free" did not live in New York.

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