#5 of 37 Lessons -- Always Tell The Truth

NOTE: Because I missed yesterday, I’m posting two blogs today — I would like to keep to my 37 day blogging commitment. Today’s blog:

Always tell the truth – without going down a significant “rabbit hole” on this subject, always telling the truth is much better than trying to remember your lie, fib or exaggeration. Only my closest friends know or have heard this story. My first job out of graduate school was as a safety specialist in a nuclear weapons manufacturing plant. If ever there is a need to be safe, it’s in manufacturing nuclear weapons. In addition to ensuring safety, there was a strong emphasis that employees had the utmost integrity and were not a threat to be compromised by enemy agents/powers.

I was highly trained in safety management and knew I could help maintain safety at the weapons plant. However, before I could go to work there, I had to be investigated for a Department of Energy (DOE) “Q” clearance, which is equivalent to the Defense Department’s Top Secret Clearance. The process would take nearly six months and started with filling out a Personal Security Questionnaire (PSQ). 

The questionnaire was lengthy and made many references to being truthful in answers and that untruthful answers could result in adverse employment actions and other draconian measures. In addition to being warned by the words on the form, the Human Resource Department also warned to be completely truthful, or I might not be able to go to work as I desired. Besides completing this form, the background check consisted of agents (FBI?) making telephone and personal inquires as to my background. Therefore, I warned those close to me; “if contacted, tell the truth, it’s the easiest thing to remember.”

About five months into the process, I received a call from a DOE security agent saying she had a few follow-up questions for me. I went to see her the next day and found myself in a conference room that had a table that seemed as long as a football field. At one end was a small tape recorder and two rather large microphones. I was about to have my very own chance to testify – to whom, or about what, I didn’t know. 

Soon the agent asked my permission to record the conversation and to swear that I would tell the truth. She also informed me that I could have an attorney present if I wished. Knowing that I hadn’t done anything really bad in my past, I waived representation and moved ahead. Quickly, the agent was asking me about illicit drug use (marijuana) while I was in college. Apparently, one of my friends had owned up to the truth that we did use marijuana on occasion and we inhaled too! 

For sure, I wasn’t a “stoner” and had only dabbled in and tried, or smoked marijuana on a limited number of occasions and I told the agent so. Apparently, my story matched what they found in my background investigation. I was then asked to sign an affidavit affirming that I would never indulge in illicit drug use while I held a “Q” security clearance. I agreed, signed the affidavit and went about my business.  In a couple days, my clearance was approved, I received the appropriate credentials and continued working at the nuclear weapons plant for the next five years. Had I not told the truth, that job might be missing from my resume.

Always tell the truth – it is the easiest thing to remember!