For whom the whistle blows #1

#1: The Non-Disclosure Agreement

People keep asking me what it’s like to work for one of the most successful companies in the entire world. They want to know all the dirty details, the secret of its success and how it manages to stay on top.

My nonchalant response, each time accompanied by a disarming wink never changes: “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you”.

I remember when I first started, in fact it’s as if it was yesterday. You’ll find that time is deceptive though since indeed it has been almost two years since I was a rather opportunistic and naive young recruit.

Back in the day, they made sure we were well acquainted with the business at hand and put us through an extensive training to mould the diamonds in the rough that we were into gems.

Picture us – a bunch of young adults between the ages of 22 and 35 – in what appeared to be a regular classroom. It might as well have been one since it contained a blackboard, chairs, tables, computers and a bubbly, young, inspirational and red-haired instructress.

Nothing about the atomsphere could have betrayed any doubt that this was a purely educational setting. There were only these ever so small details that didn’t quite match the scene. Something that would have certainly seemed off to people from the outside. The curtains were always drawn, even in broad daylight. The light within was artificial at all times. No ray of sunlight was to permeate the room. The walls were soundproof. What we were to learn was intended for our ears and our ears only.

More than half of the people who went through the training with me are sadly no longer with us. Most of them were French and I suppose when you are French you have better things to do with your life. When you are French, you have a purpose. Your joie de vivre prevents you from lingering in a dark place like this.

I suppose most of us who stayed neither had a past, a present nor a future and we knew it. They knew it too, in fact they were counting on it. It was an unspoken secret that most of us who stayed stayed because it was the only place that gave you a purpose when you had no ties. They counted on the fact that for this exact reason, we’d develop a fierce loyality. At one point, this would become more than just a job. It would become our home and you don’t betray your family.

At the end of the training, in a solemn atmosphere, they ceremoniously handed each one of us a piece of paper. As a final step, all of us were to become part of this grander scheme, a secret that both united everyone in the room and separated us from the rest.

Like the bible contains a guideline for its most pious Christians, the rules of this document were unequivocal. It stated that no information was to be leaked. If there was going to be a leak, they’d make sure to plug it. There was no illusion about being able to hide if you were planning on any kind of monkey business.

Don’t for a second think that a company that has the entire world at its feet will lose control over a single person. You could try, but it’d be only a matter of time before they found you out.

Sure, I could tell someone, but then they’d kill me before I even got a chance to kill you first.

Congratulations, you are now one of us, they saidMy training was officially over.