Some events during this process were just too astounding to not recount. I think this is one of them.
I was interviewing for a job recently. The position had nothing to do with the government and no ties to DIA whatsoever (the importance of this will become clear shortly). The company is headquartered about 600 miles from where I live and employs about 70,000 people. On this particular day, I had just completed the face-to-face interview portion of the process and was taking a break, walking outside on the company’s expansive campus. A taller gentleman approached me. I am going to recount our exchange verbatim because it is the only way to do the story justice.
“Hi, I’m Brad. You don’t know me, but I read the article.”
I need to stop the story here. You’re hundreds of physical miles away from D.C., you’re millions of metaphorical miles away from the government, and up walks this guy, bee-lining right to you and says that. If there were a camera on me at that moment (which I thought may be a possibility; some sort of reality TV setup!), you probably would have seen me trying (and failing) to maintain my poker face, whilst in all actuality probably standing there with some sort of stupefied drooling expression on my face. The exchange continues…
Brad says: “Life has a funny way of putting us in certain places at certain times, doesn’t it?”
I’d sure as fuck say so! Of course, still stunned, I remain standing motionless, trying to regain my bearing, saying nothing. He continues…
“So, my friend just completed an attaché tour. He reported some violations of intelligence practices on the leadership of the attaché service and in response, they investigated him for misconduct. He was exonerated, but his follow-on assignment to another attaché posting was pulled and he was sent back to his service.”
I stand there, still drooling. Brad continues…
“So, I’m talking to my buddy the other day and he says to me, ‘look at the balls on this guy – he went to the Wall Street Journal and reported all the same shit I was seeing and went through!’ So, I read the article.”
And now, the astronomical (I mean seriously, like stars and planets aligning here) series of happenstances:
Brad goes on, “After that discussion, I got selected to come down here to be an interviewer on the panels. So… I just happen to have spoken to my friend, who just happened to have read your article, who just happened to have sent it to me. I just happened to have been selected to interview candidates this week, the week you just happened to be interviewing, I just happened to see your name and I just happened to be on a break the same time you were.”
All I could do to react was say this:
“Well, it’s about time for me to either get hit by a bus and/or by lightning. That’s the only event left that would complete this chain.”
After I finally came to, Brad gave his friend’s contact info to me. I called him the next day. One more witness for the Congressional report: guy reports a wrongdoing, guy gets punished, everyone turns a blind eye. Here’s my shocked face (again). But that’s not the point of this story. Incidentally, in retrospect, I should have bought a lottery ticket that day! I didn’t. I don’t gamble and I don’t like pushing my luck. After all, I had just gotten a job offer – I felt that was good enough for a day’s work ;-). However, I’m still pinching myself from that exchange. Absolutely incredible. Aside from the astounding series of circumstances which makes for a neat story, there is a valuable lesson I garnered from it:
Sometimes you don’t ever get to see the tangible results of your efforts, sometimes you do, and sometimes they manifest themselves in awesome ways you would never expect…and at times you least expect them.
I have, over the last few years, become a big astrology enthusiast. I know very little about the subject itself still, but I buy into this principle wholeheartedly: when you do something, you put it out in the universe; good, bad, or otherwise, it is sent off into the cosmos. You may see that return to you someday and you may not, but it exists in the ether, I am completely convinced of that. Your good deed may also serve another purpose in this universe that you can’t realize or even comprehend. I find a lot of solace in knowing that. However, there takes some patience and self-realization to arrive at that point. We, as humans, enjoy gratification. We like to see tangible results of our actions (and more and more, we want those immediately). This was one challenge of diplomatic work: how do you see tangible effects of things like “building trust” or “bolstering relations”? Sometimes you can’t and you need to be ok with that. The same was and is true of the DIA case: I know my efforts were to serve a greater good, but many many many times, I wanted to see more results of those efforts and see them faster. I didn’t. I am learning to be at peace with that; not just with the DAS affair, but with all my life’s endeavors. Because every once in a while, so long as we are receptive and present in the moment, the cosmos speaks to us and even rewards us. This day was definitely no exception. I have no doubt there will be more to come.