I would have you know that google-maps and mapquest and all those other lately-developed methods of scoping out and locating a specific address is a god-send, especially for someone making a living marketing books, or in some kind out outdoor sales, or even just scratching a living doing temp-jobs here and there. How easy is it now to drive across country and locate the next gas, or rest-stop, with the aid of an add-on or built-in navigation system? How easy is it now to find the place where you have an interview or a sales call the next day, or to locate every independent bookstore in every town in Idaho or Iowa.

It was great when google-maps even added an aerial view version of their maps; you can zoom in and sort out where features are in relation to each other – and when they went even farther and generated a street-level view? Oh, fantastic! As someone with a propensity to get lost going to a place that I had never seen before – well, that would take care of that, wouldn’t it? I am a visual person, I operate by landmarks – this way, I would already know what a place looked like, before I even set out! I would recognize it when I got there! Is this technology stuff great, or what? It did occur to me that this would enable a new and higher degree of on-line snooping. How many of you could resist the temptation to check out the ex-boyfriends’ or that former spouses’ address? (“He lives there ?! OMG, Quelle dump! How could I ever have fallen for someone who lives in a tacky place like that?”) We certainly didn’t resist temptation at one of the places that I worked: we whiled away a small portion of the workday showing each other our own houses, discovered that we all lived in small, agreeably well-kept neighborhoods, in tidy bungalows of no particular distinction. None of us, on this showing, would ever have our domiciles featured in House Beautiful or Southern Living.

But I should have gone a couple of houses farther down the street, upon discovering this feature. Because, most jarringly, whoever did the street level photography in my neighborhood inadvertently captured more than just my house, my neighbors houses, and all of our cars.

They captured my daughter and I, with our dogs on leashes, standing in the driveway, talking to a neighbor; all three of us, perfectly recognizable to ourselves and our closest intimates, if fortunately just blurred enough to make us unrecognizable to a stranger. There we are, the three of us, with the smallest of the dogs clearly visible at my feet, my daughter in her gym things with the other dog half-hidden behind her. I have a sweat-jacket on, my daughter a pair of red sweatpants and a navy blue pullover – and there we stand, talking to our neighbor Judy. We were all mildly freaked to discover this; it was obviously shot months ago, for the lawns are late summer crispy-brown and there are no flowers in bloom, although most of the visible trees are in leaf. The skies are overcast, grayish with light clouds. My daughters’ new car, which she bought last year is parked in our driveway. We have coats on, so it is obviously cool – and most likely a Saturday or a Sunday morning, since those were the only days that we both went out with the dogs.

We find the creepiest part of this to be that our neighborhood is fairly small, although the street we live on does get a fair amount of traffic – and we thought surely we would have noticed someone driving along, filming through the windows. Surely we would have noticed Big Brother watching our street, especially on a Saturday!

Has anyone else had this kind of experience>

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. Her next work, the Adelsverein Trilogy will be available in December, 2008. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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