Um… is the Google Street View van really supposed to be in my living room? It’s been here for a couple hours and it doesn’t seem like it has any plans to leave. It’s completely stationary. There’s a dim red light glowing up top, but otherwise, there’s no activity to speak of. I’m pretty exhausted and I’m just trying to figure out what’s happening here.
And look, I completely understand that Google has a lot of leeway. I really do. They’re working on their mapping-the-world project and I give them a ton of credit. It’s a hugely ambitious endeavor and I can’t even imagine trying to take photos of the entire planet. Seriously. I can barely remember to get the camera out at family gatherings, ha ha. I’ll tell you about all the important events I’ve missed, sometime. Weddings, birthdays, you name it.
With that said, I really didn’t expect to come home and find the Street View van taking numerous pictures of my personal area. You know? When I walked in the front door, the van came out of my bedroom and it seemed a bit jittery, nervous, like it had been caught at something. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one—it was both jittery and nervous. It sheepishly rocked back and forth and the left headlight kept flickering a little. And at first, I didn’t see the “Google Maps” logo and I was like, “What the hell?” And, “What are you doing here, van?” And, “Why were you just in my bedroom?” I think anybody would ask the exact same questions after a long week at work. I’m admittedly punchy. But still.
The van just ignored me as it made its way to the kitchen. I didn’t think it was going to fit, honestly, but somehow it squeezed from room to room. I finally saw the vehicle’s side door and I was like, “Ohhhh, got it. You’re with Google! You’re on a mission to photograph every square inch of Earth, including my apartment. Fine. Fair enough. I understand now. Sure, maybe you could’ve given me a heads up that you’d be in my bedroom when I got home, but you guys are probably busy thinking about all kinds of stuff. Not much time for pleasantries.” I hollered this into the hatchback, thinking maybe somebody on the other end might hear me.
Then I was like, “About how long are you gonna be?”
It didn’t answer. It didn’t even pause. Frankly, I’m a little bit surprised that Google hasn’t invented vans that respond to verbal prompts yet, but I suppose that’s beside the point. It went into my kitchen and took a bunch of pictures of my silverware and bowls and pans and stuff. I was a little embarrassed because we haven’t had a lot of time to keep the house in order and I had a bunch of dirty dishes and beer bottles in the sink. Also, I think my roommate left his pipe out. Can a photo on the Internet get you in trouble?
Anyway, after it spent a while poking around my kitchen, the Street View van went into my office and extended what looked to be a little wire claw. Then it logged onto my computer. This seemed a little intrusive, but I justified it by thinking that the good folks at Google can easily get into my computer anyway. Right? They don’t need to be in my office to access my information and besides, I’d never seen a van use a computer and I was intrigued. I was like, What a world! From what I could see, the van’s claw sent some messages from Gmail and updated my Facebook profile and Tweeted a couple times from my account, but these were just a few harmless ads for Google+.
As mentioned, I was getting tired. I typically like to spend my Friday nights in the bath, drinking a little wine, listening to something calming. I was a bit tentative with the Street View van in here, eight cameras pointed in my general direction. Also, somebody—or should I say something?—had just busted my bathroom lock. Even this usually wouldn’t be a big deal. I’m not ashamed of my body. I’ve spent plenty of naked weekend afternoons lounging around the apartment. But I don’t necessarily want to end up splashed all over Google Maps. You know? Like, what if a prospective employer or my future wife is trying to get directions down my street someday and, instead, discovers a photo of me in the tub, eyes closed, drinking a glass of Merlot, listening to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”? Not exactly the image I’d like to broadcast.
And not to be all self-important or get in the way of progress, but I’m genuinely starting to feel like there are some privacy issues here.
I tried to climb into the van at one point, maybe see if I could personally drive it out of the apartment and back onto the street, but they’ve got that thing secured. It’s like a shiny vault. I took a screwdriver to the lock but the van gave me a little jolt of electricity. I tried to smash a window, but I think it mostly just bent my hammer. That’s when the van seemed to completely shut down. So… either I broke the thing or this is my punishment for trying to rush it out of here.
That’s where we stand now, in Google Purgatory—Googatory?—with the Street View van silently taking up half of my living room. It’s getting annoying, too, because I had some stuff TiVo’d, but the van scrolled through everything, took a few quick pics, then erased all of it.
Is this maybe an issue for the local authorities? Or do they work for Google now? I can’t remember where I heard that the police were working with Google on this kind of apartment-mapping stuff.
Ultimately, I’m considering just getting in bed, but literally the last thing in the world I want right now is to wake up in the middle of the night sleeping next to a hovering van. I might genuinely freak out. I guess I’ll just wait. It’s got to end soon, right? I’d do a Google search for, “How to get rid of the Google Street View van” but I fear that would just make things worse.
Hmm. It seems like the van’s red light is shining toward me now. It’s on my forehead. This is getting eerie.