Field Reports

Field Report: FBI Edition

Sergeant K

Hey, we are down a computer today. Just letting you know.

And the FBI was here so Private Ryan’s having a day.”

Private First Class text that I received immediately before leaving for work.

While the weirdness of The Field has been well-documented, we are not often visited by the FBI (at least knowingly). I am amazed at how quickly the sheer presence of the letters FBI made me feel immediately defensive, as though I had accidentally sent 10 pounds of cocaine and suddenly felt like the Feds were creeping in on me.

Our safety net on all things FBI is that we are not allowed to open any package without customer consent. We can do our due diligence with each one, ask every question we need to know, and still the customer can lie their ass off and we are forced into the dark. Can it feel extremely helpless? Absolutely.

And in no other area are we more helpless than customers who are being scammed. We know they’re being scammed. We even tell them they’re being scammed. But we cannot prove what we are sure we know.

Private Ryan went outside with the agents and their question was simply related to one package shipped out over four months ago found to be part of an international scam network. I’ve always said my hometown of 900 people should have a “CSI: Iowa Town” television series where each episode is just a guy sitting in a room watching Fox News. I didn’t realize I’d eventually end up in my own Law & Order profession where the FBI would call on us to take down a crime syndicate. I mean, I knew I was a Field Agent but come on.

One fun thing about Private Ryan is that he almost always remembers the person, the shipment, and what we ended up doing with it. The fun thing about me is that I almost never remember those details. In this regard, Private Ryan knew that I was the one who shipped this package.

“They asked for the manager,” he said. “If you’d been here, I would have directed them to you.”

“I would turn on you under torture,” I told him. “And by “torture” I mean “any semblance of difficulty” only.”

Shipping scams in America are estimated to cost over $1 billion per year. It’s not just stolen identity issues anymore; it is stolen lives. People don’t fall for scams because they’re stupid; they are the target of intelligent preying. The number one risk factor for someone to get scammed? Loneliness. Check on your people more often so that nobody else does.

Speaking of loneliness… At 5:28 p.m. today, a civilian wandered in and immediately began talking about everything under the sun while telling me they were super grateful I was still open and so willing to help them. They did that thing where there was no pause to give me the chance to say that it was time to close and yet insisted that we do things slowly and meticulously because it was very important to get things right.

All good. I can be patient when I need to be and since I didn’t have to talk to the FBI earlier, I had lots of patience. I did the faxing and copying and the shipping and the listening no problem.

And then, it turned.

As the transaction was ending, the civilian began to panic that they would have to be leaving soon, returning to their world of “no one to talk to, no one to listen to me” as they had already repeatedly said.

“I’m going to write children’s books when the lawsuits are finally done,” they said.

Last year at an oil change appointment, a man in the waiting room with me looked up and said, “So I had to get a new watch.” It was a brilliant introduction because I could not possibly conceive of never knowing why he had to get a new watch.

This statement today, though, made me want to sit down. All that information packed into one sentence and I knew that whether or not I engaged with any of those words, I would be forced to hear all of it. I tried to move toward the door, leading them to the exit while they regaled me with the details of their future children’s books involving an owl, a bear, and basically the other characters from Winnie the Pooh.

Except they were going to have German accents. “Lots of umlauts,” the storyteller explained.

Then they told me they loved me and demanded we “bump elbows” in appreciation of one another’s humanity.

Or maybe they meant bümp.

Either way, locking the door felt nice.

Colonel C

A couple of weeks ago, I made Sergeant meatloaf every day of the week because I was tired of her not cleaning up after herself. She hates meatloaf. It reminded me of a few years ago, during the Sad Times, when I bought her only black jelly beans as a signal of disapproval. It occurred to me that perhaps other couples use words to discuss their feelings, but I don’t know if there are words to better describe it. I guess a meatloaf is worth 1000 words?

This is on my mind because I know she’s about to ask me to go get us ice cream. She knows I can’t deny her ice cream. It’s basically my love language. Damn her.

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