Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Despite the picture, this post isn’t about bees.  Although their demise is probably yet another sign of the apocalypse.

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It rained all last night; a welcome drenching since it has been so very dry this autumn. The sky was still dripping  early this morning, but tapering off as I shuffled to the kitchen to feed the cat and make coffee.

I wake early – when it’s still very dark – and enjoy sitting with my coffee and the Times Crossword, watching the dawn sift its way into daylight through my front windows.  It’s always a surprise, no matter how many days or how predictably it happens, that for long moments it is dark and still dark and dark some more – then I look up and it’s light enough to see the houses across the street.

This morning I saw something else. There was a small white package on the stone stairs leading to my porch. I could see the Amazon ‘smirk’ but knew I had not ordered anything from Amazon. Maybe a neighbor left something and used an old Amazon box?  Whatever it was, it was all wet.

Still in my jammies, I went out to retrieve it. To my surprise, it was a real delivery from Amazon, with my address, but someone else’s name. It must have come by drone, as a ground delivery would have put it on the porch, under shelter.

I put out a notice on NEXTDOOR, a neighborhood social media platform.  One neighbor replied immediately, with a comment that Amazon would not deliver by drone this early, and warning that I should call the police to come for it.

I was already irritated that a drone might have invaded my property; last year someone’s toy drone followed me while I was out walking. The insect-like buzz was not only irritating and disturbing to a peaceful walk, but the idea that I was being followed and watched was scary as well. Now, a more insidious suggestion had been made.

I decided not to be alarmed and wait to see if the person whose name was on the package would contact me.

The word ‘drone’ seems sinister in and of itself. It’s almost onomatopoetic; drrroooooonne. (Think of the wheezing drone of a bagpipe.) By traditional definition, and as a noun or a verb, it means a continuous, low humming or buzzing noise – or to make such a sound.   It also is what we call sting-less male bees that do no work for the hive but serve as mating slaves to the queen.  The Urban Dictionary has this definition: “Someone who follows an ideology or some other form of idealization blindlessly and uncritically.”

So, a mindless, irritatingly buzzing slave to the wishes and desires of another.  And therefore, outside the realm of reason or influence. Wave the gnat away and it just comes back, again and again. Try to reason with an ideologue and you get nowhere.  Like trying to reason with or alter the function of a machine.  It makes you powerless in the face of blind purpose or mindless assault.  I cut my cable for this, among other, reasons.  No more endless, mindless ads for something I don’t want.

On the one hand, I can marvel at the technology and even delight a bit in it when, In The Hunger Games, tiny drones deliver help to Katniss in her hour of need. But the thought of a drone setting down on my lawn in the middle of the night – not so much.  I guess it’s this kind of mechanized, resistance-proof invasion of privacy that I most resent and, to be honest, fear a little bit. A person comes to the door and you can tell them to go away – close the door in their face.  But GoogleMaps puts your house out there for the world to see whether you like it or not, and drones drop unwanted merchandise (or worse) on your front steps from out of the sky.

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