1. Monday, September 9, 2002

    first job i ever got out of college 

    was with a huge company the agency wanted to keep an eye on based in the south.

    my job was to let them know if anything suspicious was going on.

    lots of suspicious things were going on.

    they were a dirty company from the top to the bottom.

    but being young there were times that i was terrified, and the worst thing that could have happened was that the company would fire me for some reason. so not only did i have to do my job for the agency real good, but i needed to do my job for the company extra good so that i could not only stay in there but keep getting promoted so as to meet more and more people and find out more and more dirt.

    that dirt would actually save american lives. i shit you not. so i took this job mighty seriously.

    the thing that would scare me the most would be the company’s voice mail.

    i would dial it up from a pay phone, punch in the password and hear the familiar southern belle’s voice on the other end saying, “welcome to your voice mail box…”

    i was terrified that once i punched in the numbers i would get a message saying, “fly to south carolina and meet up with bob and jeff, they have a special training that they want you to set up.” which would mean, of course, that i would be murdered and never found again.

    back then i didnt care so much about being killed. the Cubs werent going anywhere. but i was in love with my first live-in girlfriend and i didnt want that to ever end.

    some young agents who got phone calls like that, actually did freak out and occasionally called for back-up and they would send an extra agent to shadow them, which is extremely risky because 1) it was usually a false alarm 2) it is super hard to stay undercover in small towns in the south where Everyone knows each other and 3) even if it was a real set-up, sometimes they would do that just to see what was up, and if a second agent appeared magically then the company knew their jig was up.

    either way it was best to just handle your own business, keep a safe deposit box full of love letters and fed ex the key to your home address whenever you felt unsafe cuz if you did wind up dead, your girl could go through your old mail, find the key and see that you’d been thinking of her.

    this company, huge as it was, was dirty but not that dirty and never was on to me, and i never had to do a thing other than watch. but i remember being scared shitless of that stupid ass voice mail message box and especially the sweet sounding woman on the tape that would say things like, ” press 7 to save your message”, “for more help press the pound button.”

    apparently this weekend the xbi changed voice mail vendors out of some paranoia, i just logged in to check my messages after coming back from lunch, and guess who’s voice i heard from the past?

    yes, the sweet southern lady.

    i almost fell over on my chair.

    my heart is still pounding.