The scene: an unremarkable residential street in Cleveland, Ohio. Detached houses line the road, here and there a tree offers a modicum of shade, occasionally a car is parked next to the curb, but otherwise, there are few signs of life.
But what’s this? A vehicle sporting an impressive item of roof-mounted optical hardware moves along the street at a steady, metered pace. The all-seeing eye blinks every 10 metres or so, capturing the view in panoramic, 360 degree detail.
The images are destined to be up-loaded to the internet, for the benefit of the lost, the curious and the armchair stalker. For this is Google Maps in action, hoovering up suburban scenes for its Street View feature. And thanks to that very same facility, we can now travel with the Google-wagon along Cleveland’s
West 90th St
, and as we do so, we finally we see signs of activity. A teenage boy, happily rides his bike on the road up ahead. Sporting a baseball cap, white t-shirt and baggies, he’s just like a million other American teenagers – except today, he is about to be immortalised by the mighty G.
Pulling off the road onto the pavement he is nearing his destination and sets himself up for a simple 90 degree right turn into his driveway.
The Google-wagon approaches… but something goes wrong – did he feel the hot breath of Google Map fame searing the back of his adolescent neck? Was it a simple miscalculation of a turn he’s made a thousand times before? We may never know, but suddenly our young friend is no longer astride his bike – at least not in an upright position. He has had an unscheduled meeting with the asphalt, legs akimbo he is seated on the pavement, his steed stuck awkwardly underneath him and – as if to compound his misery – Google Maps has captured his moment of distress for all the world to see.
But does the mighty G stop to help? No! The Goolgewagon is on a mission – it stops for no man, let alone a boy in a heap on the ground under a mass market mountain bike. It maintains its steady progress but, helpfully, captures the scene behind it. Now we see our unfortunate amigo has adopted the dying fly position, perhaps as he attempts to extricate himself from his entanglement. But what’s this? If we pan round, we see further ignominy – the neighbour in front of the pink house across the street has also witnessed the whole sorry episode. Rats!
There’s nothing for our luckless pal but to beat a hasty retreat inside the house, apply a couple of Band-aids and whack on a Metallica CD at full blast to numb the pain. Yes, life can be tough on a 21st century teen…but even tougher when Google takes your private prangs and pickles them in internet aspic for all the world to see.