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An Everyday Kind of Injustice

Every now and then I think maybe I should just give this whole unemployed/starving artist thing a rest and just become a major movie star. I know it’s not the most solid backup plan, what with the hectic travel schedule, the extensive dieting and gym-going, the miles of red carpets you have to walk in spike-heeled platforms, and the chances that I won’t be able to work after the age of fifty but hey, it’s an option. And in this economy (aren’t you sick of hearing people say that? When was the last time you said “in this economy” and meant “in this cornucopia of wealth and opportunities”?) I feel like my years of experience watching movies is just as likely to land me a job as my years of experience working in an office.

But really, you’d have to be crazy not to go into this business for the perks. I’m not talking about the Golden Globes’ goody-bags, I’m talking about your connections with the FBI. Because apparently, if someone famous gets their phone hacked and someone steals the ill-begotten nudie photos off of it, it’s a federal fucking crime.

No, I am not referring to the British phone hacking scandal by that gave a bunch of journalists a very illegal way of coming up with new headlines for OK! Magazine (extra points for creativity, non-fiction journalists!), I’m talking about the phone hacking scandal that affected a certain Ms. Scarlett Johansson.

"Help me, FBI! You're my only hope..."

“Just because you’re an actor or make films or whatever doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to your own personal privacy …” Johansson put very eloquently or whatever. People Magazine, the only news source I trust to deliver the COLD HARD FACTS went on to report that “after the photos hit the web, Johansson reportedly requested that the FBI track down the perpetrators. An investigation into 50 other celebrity hacked email accounts is ongoing.”

Look, I’m sorry that Scarlett Johansson had one shitty day in a year filled with 363 other good days (subtract the day the news broke about her divroce. SAD!) That sucks for her.  Nobody wants to have nude photos of themselves splashed all over the internet, unless of course you’re a porn star in which case this type of hacking scandal would be a blessing to your career that you could fake-cry about all the way to the bank. But still, the FBI has to get involved, really? Is this because the internet transcends all state boundaries, so that any crime that happens online is immediately a federal concern, or is it because Iron Man 2 scored high in the 25-45 year old FBI agent demographic?

Normally this would be the kind of news story I would only be pissed about for half a second before I clicked over to the Huffington Post to see who Kim Kardashian is divorcing/marrying next week, but as a recent victim of both theft and the complete indifference of the law enforcement system, I was thoroughly pissed off. Not too long ago, I had my credit card number stolen. I’m fairly sure I know how it happened. I went to Oakland, California to visit a good friend of mine. I made the unfortunate decision to rely on SuperShuttle to get to the airport at 3:30 am in the morning.

After giving them my credit card number over the phone (YIKES) they failed to pick me up at 3:30am. Talk about  adding insult to injury. There are only so many more free passes I get to stay up until 3:30 in the morning without it taking years off my life, and I’ve used them also all up. I waited until 3:45 and then I called SuperShuttle to ask what the fuck. They informed me that I didn’t have a reservation.  Awesome, just what I was hoping to hear. I ended up spending $60 on a cab to the airport and waking up a very sleepy driver to come and get me (shout out to sleepy cab drivers, everywhere). I was miffed, to say the least, but it was nothing compared to my level of miffedness when I checked my credit card statement and saw that SuperShuttle charged me forty bucks for a service they did not provide.

Three separate calls to SuperShuttle’s customer service department revealed that they could not find any reservation made for me under my name (first or last), my pickup address, my phone number, or my credit card number, which may I remind you, they already charged.  It took three weeks to get my money refunded as well as an answer as to why I was charged. The reason? The reservation could not be located because they had made it under the name “Kerina Tarr.” So can someone please tell me why no one came to pick up Kerina Tarr at 3:45am?

The answer, no. Did the injustice stop there? Of course not. Two months later I received a call from my bank, notifying me that they had noticed some strange charges to my account, and had temporarily frozen my credit card. A quick phone call back revealed they were right to take this action, as someone had been making charges to several stores – in person – in Chicago, IL; a city and state I had never stepped foot in. The bank was able to tell that someone had taken my credit card number and used it to make fraudulent card, and then ran around Chicago having a high old time.

I was very grateful at the diligence of my bank, but I was still enraged. Last I checked, taking someone’s credit card number and using it to buy stuff is also known as stealing, which is illegal in every one of the fifty states of the U.S.A. So, being aware of a crime happening, I wished to report it. I lived in New York too many years not to be brainwashed by the signs on the subway that scream SEE SOMETHING! SAY SOMETHING!

But how do I go about this, I asked myself? I also asked my bank, to see what measures they took when it came to reporting illegal activity. As it turns out, they don’t do any of that. They refund your money, but it’s up to you to report a crime to the police.

O.K., fine. How do I report a crime that took place in Chicago when I live in Massachusetts? I looked up the Chicago police department and hey, look at that, they have a handy-dandy online form for reporting theft. But my theft amounted to less than $500, so I would have to call the number provided and report it over the phone, instead. O.K, understandable. But first, I wanted to be able to provide them with some evidence, or at least a lead or two. I was able to track down which Kmart my personal heister visited, so I called their customer service department to see if it would be possible for me to speak to one of the cashiers who had been on duty  that night. I wanted to see to if I could wrangle up a physical description or two to give the cops. Like I said, I’m unemployed, so I have some spare time.

Oh no, m’am, we can’t do that. The police will have to be the ones who ask us those questions. Ok, fine. I was hoping to save the donut-chasers some time, but I understand. So I called the police. Yes, I’d like to report the use of a fraudulent credit card which someone made after stealing my number. The lady on the other end paused. Was the stolen credit card used in the city Chicago? Yes, yes it was. And where am I located. Why, I’m in Massachusetts, that’s why I know it was stolen. Because I was never in Chicago and I never bought anything there, despite what my bank statement says. Do I have any proof? Yes, I do, I have the credit card charges right here.  But apparently, because I live in the state of Massachusetts and cannot physically walk into the precinct in Chicago, it was no longer their problem. “M’am, you are going to have to take those credit card statements to your local police department and file the report for the credit card theft there.”

UHHHHHH…SAY WHAT NOW? You want me to march over to the police department in Western Stix, Massachusetts, and report the fraudulent charges made using my credit card in Chicago, IL, and stand there while they stare at me like I’m crazy? Why would they care? And don’t you think that’s kind of an offensive way to waste paper…there’s some poor tree who lost his life just so I can fill out a police report of a crime that happened 1,000 miles away, which will then get shoved in some drawer until it is cleared out by a deputy in the year 2041 when they need to make file space for the records of Zombie-induced homicide.

Look, I understand Mary Jane over in the Chicago dispatch works a thankless job and has no time to deal with a yokel from Massachusetts bitching about her fraudulent credit card charges which were eventually refunded by her bank. And credit card fraud isn’t the worst of all crimes, but I also recognize that it’s is highly unlikely that the jerk who invented his own personal fraudulent credit card card-o-matic HAS NOT DONE THIS BEFORE. That means, there is some CRIMINAL running around the fair city of Chicago stealing other people’s money. Time to start enforcing laws, Chicago. You’d think the bank would at least care about catching these criminals who probably cost them a bazillion dollars in irretrievable funds each year. The banking system is broke, y’all. Now excuse me, I have to go out and get rich and famous so someone gives a crap the next time something illegal happens to me. Until then…I AM THE 99% of people the FBI doesn’t want to hear from. Huzzah.

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