It began shortly before Christmas.
I teach. I teach Special Ed. I teach Special Ed in the public schools. What this means to those of you not in the know is "December is pandemonium." We're halfway through the school year, testing data is due, everyone's rushing around like mad to clean up all the paperwork and conclude their lessons and units before the vacation cuts us off and the new year begins.
I was no exception. Being Special Ed, I've got more paperwork than most, and so I might be forgiven for not quite noticing that email from the Jones family. I teach Li'l Jonesy, and his parents are a nice couple, fine folks, supportive, keep in contact with teacher, can't say enough good about 'em.
...which is why I found it confusing when they sent me an email with nothing in it but a link. No title, no text, no nothin'. Just a link. If I'd been at home, I'd have been more cautious, but I was tired, and I clicked, and next thing I know, a web site in broken Engrish is trying to sell me herbal Viagra. I killed it and moved onto the next email. It didn't even register.
But yesterday, when this fine young couple sent me another email with a link... this one offering to MAKEY OU HARD LIKE STEAL PIPE... I couldn't help but have it kind of register in my head. WTF? It took a second to click: zombie botnet.
These poor folks's computer had been coopted by a zombie botnet, which was sending scam spam to everyone in their email address folder. Oh, man. I dashed off a quick email warning them of this...
...and then didn't send it. I am a teacher, and although you might not believe it, most of us are actually quite patient, reserved, cautious folks who do not fuck our students, literally or figuratively... and it had occurred to me that I was about to send a parent an email with a subject line reading MAKEY OU HARD LIKE STEAL PIPE. Something in my head was throbbing out a warning about that.
I rewrote that damn email a half dozen times. I didn't WANT to put these nice people on my BLOCK list; when I get a parent who's reasonable, cooperative, and communicative, I want to stay on their good side; my line of work tends more towards the wacko with rights, all too often. I tweezed that email to the point where no sane person could possibly be offended or upset by it (aside from the fact that it was pointing out that their virus-infested computer was sending me viagra spam)...
...and, wincing, I sent the thing. It was the right thing to do, I told myself. If left unchecked, what next? Male enhancement ads? Porn? And what about everyone else on their mailing list?
Mrs. Jones came in and apologized profusely this afternoon when picking up her li'l snowflake. Seems half her relatives and more than a few of her church acquaintances had been getting weird emails from their computer for a week or so, but everyone was too durn discreet to tell 'em. She thanked me profusely, apologized lavishly (albeit sheepishly), and collected her child and left.
I felt better. I'd seriously been hoping this wasn't some sort of twisted offer...