“You wanted to see me, sir?” Brian Ennis said. He had found the office door open after exiting the elevator on the sixth floor. Mr. Reynolds was sitting hunched over his desk flipping through a stack of papers. He stopped what he was doing and looked up at the doorway.
“Oh, hello, Brian. Yes, come in. Close the door.”
Brian closed the door and walked over toward the massive desk the old man was sitting behind.
“Please, have a seat.” Mr. Reynolds said. He moved the stack of papers off to the side and gestured with his hand at the two plush chairs located just in front of the desk.
“Sure.” Brian said. He picked the chair on the right.
“What do you think of the job so far?” Mr. Reynolds said. His eyebrows arched upward as he asked the question and it caused the wrinkles on his forehead to furrow.
Brain smiled. “I love it, sir. Type of job I’ve been looking for.”
Mr. Reynolds nodded and squinted at him.
“So, this is your second week here?”
“Third week.” Brian said.
“Okay. Well, the reason I called you into my office today… I just wanted to have a short chat about some of the work we do here, some of the stuff you’ll be exposed to over the next few weeks…” He trailed off, allowing Brian time to respond.
Mr. Reynolds continued: “Then there will be just a couple more things I’d like to go over that involve your personal life.” He paused to look down at his watch. “And I’ll have you out of here just in time for your usual lunch hour.”
“Sounds good.” Brian said.
“Fantastic. Let’s start off with a simple question. What does the word ‘biometric’ mean to you?”
“Um, well, as far as the type of work we’re doing here is concerned, the word refers to unique characteristics or traits in a person that can be stored digitally and used to later identify that person.”
Mr. Reynolds smiled. “Yes, basically. What would you say the first major breakthrough form of biometrics used to identify criminals was?”
Brian hesitated a moment. “Fingerprints?” He said.
Mr. Reynolds nodded. “They were first used for that purpose in India in the 1860’s. But can you actually name the person who was the first to place the study on a scientific footing?”
Brain was beginning to feel like he was on a game show. “Um, that would be Francis Galton, right?”
Mr. Reynolds beamed. “Wow, very good, I’m surprised that you know that.”
“Thank you, sir.” Brian actually had serious moral issues with Galton, but realized that saying so would be a bad idea.
“On a quick side note, Brian, did you know that nowadays there are even methods to test if an individual smokes cigarettes, drinks coffee or uses street drugs just from their fingerprints?”
“No, I was not aware of that.”
“It’s true. But anyway,” He waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss the subject. “Over the next few weeks you’ll be trained on both voice and facial recognition software. Our training team is superb, but if you do run into any problems, anything at all, be sure to let me know.”
“Are you aware that all phone calls and text messages have been saved and stored in supercomputers for over ten years now?” Mr. Reynolds said.
“Yes, I read that in a news article somewhere.”
“Okay. How about the fact that the facial recognition software is already in most security cameras?”
He shook his head. “Hadn’t heard about that.”
“Ah, doesn’t matter. By the end of the year we’ll train you on some programs that deal with palm prints, DNA, iris recognition, walking gait patterns and even RFID chips. Sound good?”
“Sure. This is all– I mean, it’s only used on criminals, right?” Brian said.
Thirty seconds of silence followed as Mr. Reynolds calmly, coldly stared him down across the desk.
“No. Not exactly.” He said.
“Yeah. Is that going to be a problem?”
“Nope.” Brian said without hesitation.
“Good. Now, the other reason I called you in here today…” Mr. Reynolds leaned down and pulled a small stack of papers out of a drawer in his desk. “Since we offered you the job here we have assigned a couple people to observe you day and night. We’ve also been surveilling your wife. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things…” He started leafing through the papers in his hand. “Last Tuesday you had a conversation on your cell with your brother, correct?”
Brian nodded and gulped.
“Yes. The conversation was brought to my attention.” Mr. Reynolds said. “I listened to a recording of it. About five minutes into the conversation the two of you started talking about this thing called freedom?”
[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]
© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved