More Secret Stuff from when I was (not) a Spy

It was a walk down memory lane today at the museum.

Yes, folks, I have arrived at the age when artifacts from my past are now gawked at with amazement and awe by the next generation through the glass cases of a museum.

You’d think I was 80 years old, but nay, I am a mere 39.  Which is pretty ancient to some people.  I’ll explain later.

What museum?

The National Cryptologic Museum.

Here we are posing by the sign.  It’s my family and me with Jeff and Barbetta and an assortment of their children.

If you all recall, twenty years ago I had an insanely boring job at a secret spy agency.  A few years ago, the agency became a little less secret and opened a museum showcasing some of their secret stuff.  I remember when they were collecting items for the museum.  I went away on my honeymoon, and when I came back, some of the equipment that had been in our workspace was missing.  “Where’d the stuff go?”

“They took it to use in some sort of museum.”


And now, twenty years later, I finally got around to going to the museum.

First off, here’s a tape:

It records super-secret stuff.  But it only records (writes) if you put that red ring in the center of it.  And, as you can tell, those little rings are obviously light-weight and probably pretty aerodynamic, wouldn’t you think?  And wouldn’t it be kinda funny to lob one of them at your coworker?  Especially at 3:42 in the morning on the night shift?  Oh yes.  It was.

Ages ago, I wrote about how we used these things to allay our boredom by flinging them at each other in sneak attacks.  See, these were in the olden days, before laser tag, when we got to lob actual physical items at each other and not just harmless laser beams.  It was sort of like paint ball.  Back in those days, we felt that if you were going to attack your enemy, you kinda wanted it to sting.

You had to be tough back then.

I like to think that that very ring was one that hit me on the head all those many years ago.  A good thump on the head might just explain a few of these blog posts, wouldn’t it?

Next, is the Cray computer that was in use when I worked there:

The last time I saw this cray computer, I was 18 years old and was asked out on a date, about 10 minutes after seeing it.  Ooo!  Maybe the story about being asked out on a date should be put in the museum, because it was such a rare event back then.

See, there were the regular workers that worked at the agency, and then there were the contractors.  The contractors could wander the hallways, but they weren’t allowed alone in most rooms.   So, we’d have to escort them around and allow them in the rooms.

Of course, if this was a spy movie, you can see who would be the first characters in the movie to be killed, can’t you?  Right!  The dopey escorts.  My life was full of danger back then.

On with the story:  we had these giant printers that were always breaking down and needed contractors to come and fix.  There were two brothers who worked as contractors fixing these printers, and they both had startling blue eyes.  Very pretty.  Everyone commented on them.

And I made the mistake of staring at the one guy’s eyes too much one day when he was fixing the printer.  And it so happened that he needed a spare part from another room, and it was my turn to escort him there.  So I did, and that’s when he showed me the cray computer that you see in the above pictures.  (Crays are supercomputers, you can google them.)

After he got his spare parts and we were walking back to my workplace, he asked me if I wanted to go and get some coffee after work.

And I remember first thinking, “Ew!  I hate coffee,” and second thinking, “Eww!  He’s so old.”  I mean, he had to be at least 24 years old.   Gross.  And third thinking, “They’re right when they say that if you stare at men they think you want them.”

I turned down the date.  My mother would have killed me for going out on a date with a 24 year old man.  She never let me get away with anything.  (Thank goodness.)

Next picture is of the phones we used.

If you hit a button on the phone, your phone call would go secure. meaning it couldn’t be tapped.  Pretty cool.  You’d think the kids we were with would be interested in those phones.

Nope.  They were interested in these phones:

Why?  Because they were rotary phones, and you could touch them and dial the rotary phones.  They ooooh-ed and aaah-ed over spinning the little dial.  Each boy simply had to try dialing his own number and was delighted with how long it takes to dial a 6, 7, 8, 9, or heaven forbid, a zero.

The kids started getting a little bored so they entertained themselves by goofing off for pictures.

Then on to Cici’s pizza for lunch, and Owen’s laser tag birthday party for dinner.   Busy day!


P.S.  Barbetta told me on the drive to the museum how much she’s looking forward to reading fiction again.  She’s been working on getting her Nurse Practitioner degree for a few years now and hasn’t read anything except medical journals and such.  She said, “The only fiction I read anymore, is your blog.”

Whoa, whoa.  Back up.  The only fiction she reads is my blog?  Wha…?


4 thoughts on “More Secret Stuff from when I was (not) a Spy

  1. When Gerhard worked at Goddard Space Flight center way way way back in the 70’s…his computer took up an entire room. I can’t even imagine what the printer was like! We take so much for granted now…

    • Rotary phones are ok, but if you have any number above a 5, they’re a pain to use. And heaven forbid if you mis-dial at the end of a long number and have to start over. It could take up to half an hour to dial a long distance number…

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