Did you know that being married is like being nibbled to death by a duck?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Burning The Midnight Olive Oil

That's right, I'm blogging while at work. Sue me. It's 12:45 a.m. and I have nothing else to do but entertain... well, myself. And this seems as good of an outlet as any. They won't let me shoot automatic weapons in the hotel lobby, so you're stuck with some late-night ramblings.

So, interesting story has developed over the last month regarding one of the most elaborate cases of deception I have ever come across. It involves a guy that I came into contact with about a year ago through some training and subsequently worked with several times since. It breaks down like this: since knowing this person, he has gradually but steadily relayed accounting's of his background, which normally involve some sort of high-speed, secret-squirrel tactical operation that he has been involved in. Toward the end of our last detail together, however, certain "signs" started appearing which led several people to raise an eyebrow of concern. He was let go from the detail due to some less than professional conduct and subsequently lost his mind.

Fast forward to about two weeks after the end of the detail, when yours truly attended some training where the aforementioned character had spent quite a bit of time. Through conversations with the instructor, my brain began to spin out of control into a "Red flag! Red Flag!" drill; much of what he relayed about our mutual acquaintance was not only different, but contradictory on an epic scale.

Once myself and a few others sat down and began comparing stories and doing some research, it became apparent that this guy had woven quite a tapestry of un-truth. The truly crafty part about it all was in how he did it; his stories to everyone were tailored based on who he was telling them to. So if he were talking to a former Special Forces operator, he wouldn't talk about things like teaching guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan; if he were talking to a former SEAL, he wouldn't talk about attacking a beach, etc. He would actually figure out what your background was and craft his history accordingly. Pretty amazing actually, as it took a fair amount of intelligence to think that far ahead. What he apparently never thought of though, was that all of these people he talked to would ever communicate with one another.

Once we all compared notes, it was quite astonishing how deep the rabbit hole went. Everything from claiming to have a Master's degree (never finished his bachelors) to an intricate web of lies involving a search and rescue operation, Hurricane Katrina, and various ventures to Central America to do... whatever it is that super-secret agents like him do. Actually fairly impressive, if looked at objectively. His resume was even done overly vague, giving him an out should any of these questions arise.

The truly amazing aspects of this whole episode to me were that he was in his mid-forties (this is something you would expect from a 25 year-old kid), and also that he was a ridiculously nice guy. Most of the time when you run into people who make up stories and lie like this they are a massive pain in the ass to deal with (we figure this is why he was so successful at getting people to buy into his hype). What the hell makes someone create an entire background in his forties? One does not become a pathological liar overnight, so there had to be a pattern formed much earlier. But where? Was he in another field making up stories there? As near as we can tell, there are no records of him in the security field dating back further than 3 years. That means three years ago he had to have said "I know, I am super-secret operator man. Starting... now!" The psychology involved there is pretty fascinating to me. I'm really not even mad any more about being duped by someone I thought was a friend because it's more just a curiosity than anything else at this point. I want to know what makes a guy like that tick.

Once it was all said and done, a number of us basically felt swindled due to buying into his story. The saddest part of the whole episode is that he actually had the ability to perform his job at a high level. Well, until he started taking pictures of girls with soda bottles in their... uhh... special area and showing the pictures to people. Apparently that is what some refer to as "tacky" or "unprofessional" in the corporate world. Whatever. Next they'll start saying that you can't call a girl "toots" while slapping her on the butt and telling her to make some coffee. Ok, so maybe the guy was exhibiting signs of Loony-Tunes long before I noticed, but then again, have you read my blog? Spotting crazy is not exactly my forte.

Good stuff, though. Makes for a great story. Now I'm headed out to free all of the members of the Asian Dawn movement. Wolverines!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fenway, Ranching, and Following Garbage Trucks.

Try and top that title, eh? Yeah, I think not.

So my adventure begins after my last posting, at which time I had just come back from Nashville (home of the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind. Einstein actually relocated there secretly. It's science). Just after coming home, I hopped on a flight out to Boston to play for the Red Sox. They needed some pitching and batting help, so they called me up. Yeah, I play. You didn't know that? I'm totally Major League caliber. I just don't do it regularly because I can't shoot people playing baseball. If they would just change that one rule...

But seriously, I actually only saw Fenway Park as we drove by it on the highway while heading out to the country for a relaxing visit with friends, co-workers, and the guy who actually pays me to ride on an airplane and kick illegal aliens out of the country. He basically uses the excuse of his son's birthday to invite all of his friends out for a few days of hanging out at the pool and watching movies on his super-small television (with an uber weak sound system, I might add). A good time was had by all, and surprisingly there wasn't a single drunken-adult injury related to either the pool or the "bouncy room." I'm as shocked as anyone. The real capper to the weekend came once everyone else had gone home and I found out that my gracious hosts were treating me to their massage therapist who comes once a week (and who was also at the party, jumping off the roof and hanging from the chandelier while claiming "godlike powers" which, to be honest, I found a little excessive). All that aside, she enabled me to be able to move my neck more than I have in about three months, forever putting her in my good graces (and maybe the part about her at the party is slightly exaggerated. A little).

After coming home from Boston (much, much later than scheduled -- thank you, Jet Blue!), it was off to Pueblo, CO. to visit a very close friend and do some ranchin'. That's right, I'm a rancher. You want horses trained? Call me. You want pigs fed and watered? Call me. You want bloodhounds taught how to track down bad guys? Call me. You want dog poop cleaned out of your yard? Don't call me, call the 9-year old who was helping me. He's better at it and it's his chore, not mine, ok?!?

The funny part is, I actually had a really good time. I've never been a huge animal person, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Pretty soon I think I'll be wearing nothing but Carhartts and ropers. Probably get into dipping tobacco, too. I can see that being a cool habit to pick up at the age of 34.

On my way back from Pueblo, I received a phone call from one of my former instructors saying that if I can fly myself out to Oakland, he can put me to work for a week or so. Are you kidding? Oakland? You mean the Paris of the West Coast? What Gucci is to clothing, Oakland is to culture; what Ferrari is to cars, Oakland is to serenity. So naturally I couldn't turn that opportunity down.

The real joy of it is in what I'm doing: The garbage truck drivers for Waste Management decided to go on strike because, get this, the company instituted a policy that if a driver causes three or more accidents that they would be fired. That's it. There is no dispute over pay, health benefits, etc. No, it's because they think it's "unfair" to be fired for causing accidents. Right. I'll just let that sink in and you can tumble it around in your brain for a while. Anyway, so the "scab" drivers are being harassed and, ergo, private security. Pretty boring work, to be honest, but driving through an angry picket line is nothing but a good time. On the first day I was in a suit and tie, and one lady yelled "nice f''n suit! Where'd you get it, Wal-Mart?!?!" I looked down and realized, why yes, yes I did get it at Wal-Mart. Why the heck would I wear a nice suit to follow a garbage truck? Hey, at least I wasn't wearing a dark blue blazer with black pants, white shirt, black tie, and white socks like my partner that day was. Wow. That was... something.

Currently I am just hanging around the hotel lobby, waiting to go in to work later today and see what kind of fun is going on. Things are pretty mellow, so I'm guessing this won't last real long. Once I'm done, I will share a couple more stories about some of the "high speed" individuals I have encountered. Good times.

Until then, stay off the horse that looks you in the eye and smiles, and don't go out riding in a car with a guy who is claiming to do "tactical maneuvers" because he lost sight of his objective while checking out girls in other cars. He's probably not the most "squared away" guy on the team. Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Travel Blogging: Nashville Edition

Oh what a wonderful place the South is. I had nearly forgotten how much of an absolute joy it is to dine at high class establishments such as Waffle House and... well, Waffle House. And also that Waffle House over there. They certainly haven't gone out of business since I left the South in 2004. Oh sure, some of you may be saying "but weren't you in Louisiana just a couple of months ago for work?" And to you I say: prove it. I admit to nothing to do with that state, now or in the past. May it be barred from my memory as well as yours.

But I'll tell you what, no where on earth can you have a more in-depth conversation about politics, socio-economic dynamics, or how we should just make various third-world countries into parking lots than the counter at Waffle House. And all over a healthy, low-fat meal, I might add. Ahh yes, good times.

So now I am sitting and killing time in my hotel room in Nashville after completing a 3 day Urban Escape & Evasion course hosted by On Point Tactical Tracking School. The course was considerably laid back -- almost to a fault -- but offered up some very useful tidbits of knowledge regarding movement around a city. Nashville provided quite an interesting back-drop for the course, as it seems to be sort of a country western version of San Francisco. Just replace all of the hippies with failed country singers -- who sit on the corner playing Hank Williams songs as opposed to Grateful Dead -- and that's pretty much it in a nutshell. Oh and there's no China Town. I don't think they take to well to "their kind" around these here parts.

Our practical exercise took place yesterday, with the students being assigned tasks to complete around the city, all while attempting to avoid being seen or caught. Three of us started in a hotel room, hand-cuffed to one another with hoods on. Boy am I glad the maid didn't come in at that time. Once freeing ourselves we made our way through town doing things like picking padlocks and bringing them back to the instructor, collecting information from various "sources," and moving without being caught.

The instructors of course made things a little more interesting by being in disguises; most of the students did the same. I ran into one of the instructors but managed to lose him by pulling off what will probably become known as one of the greatest escapes of all time: when he looked down to call the other instructor with his phone, I ducked into a parking garage. Yeah, I know. Pretty freakin' awesome. I'm like some sort of James Bond or something, except better looking and way more successful with the ladies. They would write books about it, but I would have to kill them for talking about me.

All in all it was a pretty good time, but I think it could have been a lot more intense. Not to say that I didn't learn anything, but I'm a pretty big believer in being pushed; I like to feel as if I was really challenged. Like that time I watched Predator for the first time. Man, just trying to wrap your mind around the dynamics of that masterpiece was like an emotional and intellectual marathon.

And so now I sit in front of my hotel room TV flipping between Fox News' brilliant analysis of the Scotland terror incident -- it's boiled down to news commentators discussing other news commentator's opinions -- and... a whole lot of nothing else. I could go back to the Waffle House, I suppose...