A couple weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a photo. It wasn’t a SnapChat type of photo – you know something that is supposed to be deleted quickly – it was a harmless photo of a bike.
My buddy works in the backroom in retail and there was a new bike coming out for the Star Wars line. They had received a Darth Vader limited edition bike into their store and assembled it.
Knowing that I’m pretty obsessed with bikes (even “Big Box Bikes”) they snapped a quick photo and said “Dude, what do you think of this bike?”
That was it, pretty harmless right?
Well, I guess it wasn’t as harmless as I had thought. Apparently this company had a pretty strict contract with Disney that none of this product would get leaked out before the official launch date (9/4/2015) – and they had sent a memo to all the stores to that effect – protect the secret at all costs!
About an hour or so after my buddy sent the photo they texted back that I should delete the photo right away or they “could lose their job”. I don’t really have anyone with whom I could share it so I said “okay” and forgot about it.
A few weeks go by and I’m having an argument with my wife about what day it is. For some reason I thought it was Sept. 5th and she was telling me that it was the 3rd (even though I knew it was Thursday and not Friday, I couldn’t connect the dots…). The whole argument started because I couldn’t believe that it was already the 5th because it felt like we had just started the month.
Anyway, like almost always happens, I was wrong and she proved it to me by telling me to look at my phone.
I did and I was wrong.
Did I mention that this was at midnight (EST) and I was getting ready for bed.
It was in this moment that I remembered that the Star Wars bike was going to launch on 9/4. I quickly went to said retailer’s website and noticed that they were counting down to the “official midnight launch” and I thought “I wonder if I can post that photo online (I won’t say WHERE I posted it but you can probably assume) and let people on the west coast get a sneak peak at this bike?”.
Did I also mention that while it was midnight EST, I don’t live in the eastern time zone, I live in mountain so technically it was 10 pm my time.
Anyway my ‘stupid switch’ flipped to the ON position and I posted the photo online at 10:05 MST. Then went to bed.
I wake up to a text at 2:30 am and all it said was “You couldn’t help yourself could you? You had to post that online. I hope they don’t find out that it was me and I get fired!”
That was it. No “J/K”, no smiley face, no emoticons whatsoever. I was floored. I thought I had just cost my friend their job. I was freaking out. What could I do?
I tried to go and delete the posting but I couldn’t because I had posted it anonymously so there was no “account” from which I could delete it.
I laid in bed fretting about what I had done. I couldn’t sleep so I started thinking about how stupid I was. Guilt turned to self flagellation which turned to denial which finally turned to justification and anger. The whole ordeal was stupid, I justified. This stupid bike wasn’t worth keeping a secret anyway – it wasn’t that special.
AND, I had searched and there were tons of other “insiders” that were posting about some of the other toys that were going to launch about 2 weeks before they should have too… so maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Finally around 4:30 am I started to calm down and my thoughts became dream-like. My brain started to think of ways to “stick it to corporate”. Somewhere in there I came up with the idea of starting a consulting/temp agency. I would farm out (re: whore out) my people (of course they would be highly qualified) to every company I could and then I would pay them bonuses for any information they could collect about the company.
Then I would package the info and sell it to their competition – or leak it to the media for a price – I would sell it indiscriminately. Whomever, whatever, wherever – anyone with money.
Then, just before dozing off the thought came to me: “wouldn’t it be funny if someone actually did that… haha… but wait, what if someone already does that?”
I created a story in my head. What would it look like if a company already did this? Who would work there? What would they be willing to do to keep their secrets secret?
That would be a story worth telling. Just before I drifted off to sleep around 5:30 am I had already come up with the plot, names, characters, outline and the first 3 book titles.
Of course this was going to be a series!
That was the day I decided that I wanted to become an author.
September 5th, 2015.
See, ideas can come from anywhere – you just have to be primed for the inspiration – good or bad!
Oh, and just to finish the story, my buddy didn’t get fired because corporate noticed that the photo was technically posted five minutes after the launch on the east coast so nobody broke any rules… at least I was right about something!
And the next day my buddy had to give me a hard time because they said they were just messing with me anyway since they had noticed the posting time and knew they were okay…
NOTE TO OTHERS: Even if you are just messing with someone, the time to do that is not 2:30 in the morning…. but it CAN still have a good outcome.
Also published on Medium.