Jack and I didn’t “lock” our wireless Internet the first three years we had it in the bookstore. We felt open-handed, generous, as though we were offering something to the community.
The lady who rented the house across the street said she could use it if she sat in the near right corner of her upstairs bedroom. A guy in a red Toyota pulled up about once a week, 7:30 a.m. (One subzero winter’s day Jack went out and asked if he wanted coffee, but he just thanked us for having wifi available. He was a contractor staying in a rented house for six months.)
About two months ago, after a series of difficulties getting online and a strange warning message that we better stop posting copyrighted material of a dubious nature, Jack did some cyber-digging. And found… well, a porn cache, and someone’s footprint. I don’t get tech stuff, but there’d been numerous (as in six hours a night for seven nights running) uses of our wireless on places that don’t really respect women for our minds.
OK, time to create a password. And then, about two weeks ago, the phone rang. On a Sunday afternoon. A young male voice on the other end asked if we were “bookshopwifi.”
I motioned to Jack to pick up the other receiver, and said, “Why yes, we are. How can I help?”
“I need your password. I’ve got a school assignment due tomorrow and I’m only half done. I was using bookshopwifi but now it’s asking for a password. It didn’t do that before.”
“Which medical school are you attending?” I asked. “Or is it art classes, studying the female form?”
On the phone, I swear I heard the child blink. Then he decided I was the idiot, and tried again.
“I have to finish my assignment. What’s your password?”
“We locked our account because someone was using it to surf porn.”
A pause. “Porn is protected as free speech,” said the voice, rather hopefully.
Jack couldn’t help himself. He burst out laughing.
Being a college professor, I wanted to impart some wisdom to this poor misguided child, but words failed me. I started laughing, too. Yeah, I missed a chance to offer insight and turn his life around. But our wifi is clean. Let us know if you want to use it.