An Open Letter to Surveillance Cameras

Dear Surveillance Camera,

You should be ashamed of your damn self. For years, you’ve been making people think that you’re in some way innovative and reliable. That you have some kind of value that might deter crime, catch criminals, or win first place in America’s Funniest Home Videos with an accidental clip of an old man slipping into a James Brown split in the cat food aisle.

But you, camposter, are a one trick pony with a metal leg and glass eye, and I’m sick of you parading around like an upstanding member of the law enforcement community.

I just don’t get it. It’s 2015. They can stick a flash drive down a mofo’s throat and see the wall of his intestine good enough to cut through it with a hologram laser. Hell, Google can take a picture of my license plate from Mars and post it to Instagram. But you can’t produce a clear picture of a suspect to save your life. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Is it so hard to increase whatever the hell it is that makes those grainy shots you send to the cops — your pixels, your resolution, your freaking give-a-damn?

Clearly, all you want to do is sit in the corner, do the least amount of work possible, and collect a check. You don’t even twist side to side like in the old days, you lazy bastard. So what do they do? They hire you help. Yep. ‘Just go ‘head and put one of you bums in every corner. Great, that makes sense. Now we can have shitty pictures from four different angles.

Here it goes on the news: “Police are asking for your help in finding this man who allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven yesterday.”

On the screen: A picture of a fuzzy box with eyes.

So there I am, eating Lucky Charms for dinner (don’t judge) and sitting there like Nancy Drew 2.0 trying to figure out if I recognize the sumbitch. I might have been able to collect that $20,000 reward if you had the good sense God gave to a Boost Mobile flip phone.

Well, Inspector Clou-suck, let me give you a few lessons.

There are these things called foreground and background. One is in front of the other, you see. There should be some distinction, but no, it’s all the same to your one-dimensional ass.

Also, have you heard of the color spectrum? CMYK? RGB? RAINBOW BRITE? You could do a little better than 500 shades of grey. Your piss poor performance has got me wondering who taught you how to be a camera in the first place. RadioShack?

I’m not just being all animosity and whatnot for no reason. Remember that time I got robbed at the Geek Squad? All I know is I put my iPhone on the cashier’s counter that fateful March day at Best Buy, moved a few feet to the register, and it was gone. I’d just had it! I know because I silenced my brother’s call, which in retrospect I shoulda answered because then I would have been holding the phone and not absent-mindedly laying it on a counter like a dumbass.

So there I am looking in my bag, under my hat, giving people in line behind me the side eye, when I start to wonder if I just imagined having the phone in the first place. Instead of doing the smart thing — screaming, “Nobody move, nobody gets hurt!” — I asked the manager to pull the surveillance tape.

You, Surveillance Camera, were my only hope.

“Ma’am, you know, I’m sorry,” said the manager. “But all the cameras were pointed at other parts of the store.”

That’s when I was really done with you, Cam. Your one chance to have my back, and you turned yours. So here’s some parting advice: you could make a better life for yourself by sliding down that pole instead of sitting on it.