When I posted the previous chapter, I had hoped to answer more questions than I created. This was unfortunately not the case.
“Wait, you never explained why your AIM name is “bacon the spy“. Where does the spy part come from?”
As with much of life there is a short answer and a long answer. I will attempt to resolve them in that order.
For the past 8 years I have been living a lie. I am a Canadian spy.
My family moved to Nova Scotia in the spring of 1996 so that my father could manage an industrial cleanup project. The Sydney Tar Ponds were a tidal estuary contaminated with a variety of coal-based wastes from coke ovens that supplied the now defunct steel industry. Unfortunately, the project was stalled by an intense amount of bureaucracy including the involvement of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Though not publicly disclosed at the time, the CSIS investigated the majority of the high ranking Americans involved in the project, including my father. The CSIS publicly involves itself primarily with Canadian internal security, but like most North American nations involves itself in international matters when such involvement would be beneficial to Canadian interests.
I learned of the CSIS in what at the time seemed to be a happenstance way. My 8th grade class participated in a career day of sorts, the highlight being the inclusion of someone billed as a Canadian Secret Agent. He wasn’t really a secret agent, rather a middle aged office worker with an interesting set of coworkers. This disappointed many, but myself and several other boys still cornered him after the presentation to ask questions. He didn’t seem surprised that I was the only American in the school, and pulled me aside afterwards to continue talking. Though at the time I didn’t know I was doing it, I managed to confirm for him that my father was not a US government employee, he never went to Washington DC on the weekends and that I loved tuna and macaroni.
I didn’t think about the agent until several years later, after I had returned to the US and was attending high school in Pittsburgh. The phone rang one morning when my mother had just left for groceries, and I picked up. He introduced himself as Agent McDonahue and asked me if I would meet him at a certain park in exactly 20 minutes. It seemed that the initial impression I gave McDonahue was positive enough that they had initiated an entry level background check which culminated in the extension of an offer. I was an Agent in training.
I set up a cover job first at Giant Eagle and then Wal-Mart. When I said I was cashiering I was lying around a quarter of the time. The rest would be spent at a small unassuming house with a large and sophisticated basement. It was there that I learned how to program, how to persuade, how to defend myself. They encouraged me to take up paint ball to increase my tactical and situational awareness skills without raising any flags.
My strength was my age and my sense of strategy, and they used both to great ends. Shortly after I started attending college in Cleveland they decided I had enough training and would be useful in their first assignment. When they told me what the assignment entailed, I walked away. I was furious and I felt betrayed. They had broken their promises regarding the limits of what I said I would do.
A week later I was using a student employee pass to swipe discreetly out of the Cleveland Clinic. The job had been easier than I thought it would be. He didn’t even struggle. I felt fine. I was proud, but at the same time I was ashamed. Either way, I didn’t stop.
It’s hard to explain the next several years, partly because it’s hard to remember. I was a full time student and a part time spy. The best lie is always the one that is closest to the truth. “Let’s go to Niagara Falls!” “You know, Delaware is one of the few remaining states I haven’t been to, let’s go.” It was remarkably easy to blend in. Maybe everyone didn’t want to know, and passed off my random desires for travel or my familial “commitments” as standard operating procedure for me. I did everything I said I did.
You can still be dishonest and tell the truth.
I’m a story teller at heart. Most of my life revolves around the creation and telling of stories. With this in mind, it has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done not to speak of what this job has let me do. Do you know what it’s like to smoke a cigarette in a burning car? Do you know how it feels to rock climb in a tank top and high heels? Or the pain associated with beating a man unconscious with a live cat? You don’t, and I wish I didn’t. Meeting the British boys was always an adventure; they knew how to have a good time on the Queen’s dollar. Sometimes my inexperience got the better of me; I was young and drunk and … she was South African.
Canada doesn’t involve itself in world affairs except when world affairs involve themselves with Canada. American importers of prescription drugs were a target several times, but human traffickers were my most common assignment. Even with my limited experience, all my prior work left me ill prepared for my current assignment: intellectual dismemberment.
It’s common knowledge that China has spies at the US Patent Office. Slightly less commonly known is the fact that everyone has spies at the US Patent Office. When Research In Motion (RIM) was sued for patent infringement, the darling of the Canadian tech industry was hung out to dry by the American patent system. Several phone calls were made to keep that from ever happening again.
My job is to look out for Canadian interests. Whether it be the drug trade or intellectual property, I fight the good fight for my friends up north. The next time someone wants to talk about how the Maple Leafs suck or the latest Alanis album was a piece of proverbial ‘shit’, just remember one thing:
Nobody suspects the Canuck.