Saturday, December 21, 2013

You Couldn’t Write A Book Better Than This Story

There was a story in the news recently about a man who lived a secret life, or actually, a secret lie, who escaped exposure for more than a decade.  Now he’s going to jail.

It may seem like a simple story of man lies, pockets resources, and gets caught, but upon closer examination this tale is much more than that.

The guy worked for a government agency, the EPA, for many years.  At some point he told his boss that he was also working for the CIA.  He said he needed every Friday off to carry out his secretive work.  It was so secretive that the boss never verified his employee actually worked for the CIA.

Then the imaginative worker said he needed six months off to carry out a mission.  Oh, and he’ll need a 25% pay raise that exceeded the salary of his own department’s commissioner.  He also took numerous trips on the dime of the EPA to pursue his covert operations.

Even after retirement, he managed to stay on the payroll.  Finally, not sure how, he was caught and prosecuted and convicted.  Between the paid time off, travel perks, and other resources, it was estimated he stole about one million dollars.

You have to admire his nerve.  Perhaps there was no grand scheme here, at first.  He just wanted a reduced schedule, without reduced pay, so he spun a yarn that got believed like Madoff did to investors.

Then one thing led to another. Like a drug habit, it fed itself.  He wanted to see what else he can get away with.  The more he asked for, the more plausible the story seemed.  It was a great cover—no one could ask him anything about anything.

But why didn’t someone confirm he actually worked for the CIA?  There must be some protocol for this, otherwise we’d all make such wild claims.

Or maybe he does work for the CIA and this story of his arrest is part of a cover-up?

You never know what to believe with the world of spying and lying, of disinformation and mass fraud.

Maybe it wasn’t even about the money.  This guy just wanted to feel important, to feel like he was living a secret life.  But it was a secret lie.  Could the lie be even better than being a CIA operative?  After all, no work or risks are necessary to be a faux agent.

We love to use our imaginations for profit.  It works for creative types—writers, artists, musicians, actors, dancers—and it works if your job needs a thinker.  But when we use our ability to dream to become the grounds for lying, we cross a line.

Still, something about this guy seems embraceable.  He got to live a secret lie, to act as if he was someone else, and to enjoy the benefits of it for so long.  We all want to be someone else, if not for a moment at least.  Now he’ll assume a new identity: jailbird.

What an extreme shift—from a crime-fighter to a convict.  Maybe, if he’s willing, he’ll use his imagination to survive this next phase.  He’ll convince himself he’s on another undercover mission.

You may forever look at your colleagues differently.  Perhaps one of them is not who he says he is, or even more interestingly, thinks he is someone he isn’t.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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