A few years back an acquaintance told me that, before retiring, she worked for the CIA. I was shocked; she hardly fit my mental profile for a covert operative, but what shocked me even more was what she said next: “I still get an agency discount, so if you want to buy anything at the CIA Gift Shop, let me know.”
The CIA had a gift shop?
She had to be pulling my leg. Wouldn’t a gift shop be out of character for a clandestine organization celebrated and defiled in movies and spy novels? It was hard to believe because Jason Bourne would have had an easier time figuring out who and what he was if he’d awaken wearing a CIA monogrammed polo shirt, with a CIA cap on his head and a CIA coffee mug in his hand. I went on line to check this out, and sure enough, there is a gift shop.
I decided to buy something, but what to choose? I was leaning in the direction of a CIA Christmas tree ornament but settled on a gold and burgundy-colored pen with the three letters prominently displayed. Unlike Maxwell Smart’s shoe, my pen served only one purpose—writing.
Several times I’ve absentmindedly walked away from it, but that pen has never been pocketed. Once when I was at a writing convention I left it with my notebook on the conference table while I took a restroom break. When I returned, everyone was staring at me. A gruff fellow seated nearby yelled out, “I suppose you want us all to think you’re a spy? That you work for the CIA?”
I shrugged, picked up the pen and clicked it. His eyes widened when I said, "Shhhhh! I want to hear what you guys said about me when I was gone.”