Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How well do you know your friends?

A few days ago, I got a call from the US Government. Not totally unusual, since every few years, they do a background check on a good friend of mine. She works for the diplomatic service and is always at one embassy or another. I'm one of her "links" to the United States.

As far as links go, I'm a pretty good one. We've known each other since freshman year of high school. They'd seat us alphabetically in homeroom. She was Crowe. And since we had a small school (and very few "D" and "E" names), I (Fox) was seated right behind her. We got to be friends and the rest is history.

Very detailed history.

You see, when the federal agents want to know things, they want detail. And I should know lots of things because, well, I still see my friend whenever she's in the states, and I visit her in whatever country she's in (a little less now with kids and book contracts). Unfortunately, I am not a real detail person. As evidenced every time the agents knock on my door to talk about my friend.

Agent: How well do you know this person?
Me: Very well. I met her in high school and she was even the maid of honor at my wedding.
Agent: You knew her in high school.
Me: Yes.
Agent: Where did she work in high school?
Me: You've got to be kidding.
Agent: You know this person?

Who remembers where their friends worked in high school? Not me. I did manage to stumble out something about a summer camp where my friend taught gymnastics. Naturally, the agent wanted to know the name of the camp. But really, who keeps track of these things? (Note: If you're one of those people who does keep track of things, you can pipe down right now.)

They also had questions about my job.

Agent: What do you do for a living?
Me: I write books.
Agent: That people read?
Me: Not all the time, no.

I thought that was pretty funny. Turns out, federal agents have no sense of humor.

Luckily, (and probably despite me) my friend has managed to keep her security clearance. So far. Good thing, because she really is great at what she does. After all, she kept me from getting arrested in Mexico City over a slight mis-understanding with la policia. They wanted a bribe. I wanted to see how well I could get by on high school Spanish (Hint: not that well).

And as far as I'm concerned, friendship is more than remembering the address of my friend's place in grad school. Instead, I remember crashing on the couch of said place. Oh, and the time she visited St. Louis and her grandmother took her to the store to buy batteries for her alarm clock. Aileen is legally deaf, so she has one of those alarm clocks that shakes instead of buzzes (hard to hear a buzz when your hearing aids are out). So naturally, her grandmother asked the sales clerk for "batteries for her granddaughter's vibrator."

But do the agents ask about that?


They don't ask the important things. Not that I would tell them anyway. Some things are better left to friends.


Lexi H said...

Hahaha, this was great!

Angie Fox said...

Real life - stranger than fiction.

Sharon Stogner said...

lol, the urge to be snarky with the Feds must have been overwhelming. what a cool story :)