Washington DC – Becoming a Spy

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We are sitting on the train.

And the announcer comes on over the speaker system. I think to myself, I am sure that I have heard this voice before. I start racking my brain. Then I get it, Ms. Jackson.

As similar as the two voices sound, I have a feeling that Andre 3000 hasn’t forsaken his hip hop career in pursuit of the glory of the subway announcer. I have literally been doing this since I have arrived in America.

All the voices you hear in movies and the accents that you think people are putting on just for the sake of a good quality movie?

They are real.

Every one of them.

Its honestly one of the most surprising things to hear. Not to mention the amount of (people I have walked past, who look like) celebrities that I have seen since landing in America. I’ve seen (a bloke who looks kinda similar to) Will Smith. I’ve seen (another bloke who looks like) Denzel Washington. (A guy who looked like) Barak Obama even passed me in Central Park. It is actually amazing. You would never guess it, but remain in disbelief if you wish. My word is my word.

The only thing we really intend on buy entry for, while we are here is the spy museum. We are both pretty keen on it. I mean, these guys are up against the smithsonian, which as literally covered everything (except spy stuff, obviously), so these guys have got their work cut out for them. That being said, we have only heard good things about them.

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You bloody well better not be

We get our tickets (buy them online, its way cheaper, like nearly half the price), and off we go. You walk in the elevator, and everything starts. Your’e being debriefed by a computer, as you head up about your mission ahead. I’m at a spy museum, I didn’t intend on having to do a mission, but it’s gonna spice the whole experience up a a little, so lets do it.

The doors are hardly open, and the chick is going all drill sergeant on us. “You two have to pick an Alias. Remember everything you can about you alias. You have 3 minutes left!”.

“Geez. Bugger me”

It’s go time. I am wondering how hard I should make it for myself.

Ahkmal from Pakistan probably isn’t the best option, since I have to remember every detail about the guy, and I can hardly remember whether I was born 23 or 24 years ago. I settle for a student named Billy Henderson. His first name is gonna be easy as to remember. I just gotta remember the  rest of the small details. He’s 14 …with a beard apparently… But whatever.

Spoiler – I didn’t end up remembering all the small details.

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All the genuine spy tools and traps. 10/10 ridiculous.

Bec and I were saying only the other day that museums that we enjoy most are the ones that are interactive. Static museums, as good as they are, loose their novelty after the first of several hours. This, however, had us engrossed for hours. There were endless stories about people who had served as spies, and died in the process. Just as many stories of people who had sold national secrets.

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It seriously seems like Russia and the US are eternal enemies too. Everything was about the KGB that had planted some spy into the CIA who got caught, or vice versa. You also quickly learn that spy work is VERY rarely about the the James Bond events in the world, and more about a mental game of chess with people who you suspect might be moles for the other team. You would literally have to second guess everything and everyone you meet.

Screw that.

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This game is aids. You’re meant to be james bond and all, but the longest I saw someone hang on was 38 secs…

I have often wondered how many times things that you see in spy movies actually happens. I mean, not to the extend that it does in the likes of your Jason Bourne movies, or your James Bonds, but I can tell you that, it does.

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Pulled it out without touching the edges, without even looking. Sweg.

There were actual tools on display that actual spies would use though out the years. Like, the US made a recording device which they hid inside a tree stump outside a Russian embassy. The CIA and the KGB were both sick of finding wires and miss in their headquarters, so they both ended up making the own HQs again, and it took them over 25 years to complete their own buildings because they kept finding wires. Like, wires that clip onto the rio in the concrete of the building, which picks up the vibrations of the conversations happening inside.

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Yes.

You are right.

You’re screwed.

So, I am now, utterly convinced that the things on the movies don’t stray too far from the truth of real life examples.

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Victory Face. Sweg.

…minus a few explosions.

Last cool fact? We found out that Ian Flemming (the guy who wrote the Bond series), also wrote chitty chitty bang bang. As you do. Rogue agents, and magical flying cars.

Tomatoes, Tomatos, I guess.

We get our fill of spy trivia, and head to the National Archives. As cool as this is, no photos are allowed. I dunno about everyone else, but the whole ‘no photo’ rule, brings out my inner Danny Ocean. I start thinking, “If they don’t want pictures taken in here incase someone tries to steal The Declaration of Independence, then it must be possible. Otherwise, they wouldn’t care about someone thinking about it”.

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National Archives

Ocean’s 11 isn’t my thing.

Not in real life anyway.

In my mind, I put Danny Ocean to shame, but when push comes to shove, I kinda need the camera.

Regardless, I got to read the original documents. The Declaration of Independence, The actual American Constitution. Like, the real deal. I actually got to read sections one to four of the rules that make America, America. It is truly surreal. I also got to real the Bill of Rights, which is kinda cool.

“Pics or it didn’t happen”, you say?

“You’re a knob”, I say.

Oi, but check this out, there have been 11,000 amendments attempted to the American Constitution. Of those 11,000 attempts, only 27 have been successful. 6 other amendments got half way there, but were rejected by one of the stages of parliament. That’s a lot of unsuccessful attempts, for a very few successful changes. But when you are changing the fabric of a nation, you don’t really wanna be taking anything and everything, I guess.

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We jump on the train to head home. Bec and I have been mucking around with the idea of making a board game. I say to her, “I rekon, if we were to make a game where people use pizza boxes, mcdonalds takeaways and KFC buckets as the base for the games, I reckon it would work”. She labels me a lunatic and calls the cops to make sure she’s safe. I get on the train, and there are no double seats free. I end up sitting next to this young black bloke. I think he has bought something for his mrs.

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This is how I looked when introducing myself to my new mate on the train.

Looks fancy.

I turn to him, “Mate. My Mrs and I were talking about making a game”, He’s looking at me a little odd.

“…I reckon that if you were to make a game where, now hear me out, its only a brand new idea, so I dunno how I would do it, but I reckon it could work”

“Uh-ha”, he replies, still a little confused that this little white kid just sat down next to him and started telling him about this game that he hasn’t finished explaining yet/

“…where you take things like a…” I choose my takeaway wisely. I know that I need to get this right. Fried chicken is the staple to every good African American diet, “…KFC bucket,”

“Oh yeah?”, he replies. “Nailed it”, I think and mentally fist bump myself before continuing my story with this guy.

“…and this is the basis of your board game. People just buy the bits that you add to the bucket to turn it into the actual game. What do you rekon?”

“I mean… Yeah. That could be good”

“Good answer”

I make a friend.

He tells me to go clubbing.

Its awkward.

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The path home.

We’ve had a full day of learning about being a spy, and then learning about the nation that hires them.

Its kinda funny, in the place that we are staying, the bloke doesn’t have any wifi. Its actually that good. We will get home, and instead of chilling out online and catching up on the world, we end up going that thing where you sit together and interact with each other.

Weird, right? We also do that thing where you end up reading more books. Like, what the hell? Another thing that is really odd? We end up talking about the future and where we see ourselves heading. Yeah.. I dunno how I feel about all this, but life seems to be ticking along ok regardless of all these really crazy natural conversations and habits that spring up due to a lack of constant attention grabbing from the online world.

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One thing that happened this evening that was really odd, is that Bec and I made dinner together. But, the lack of influence of a computer screen was getting to us, so we decided to watch night at the museum on my lappy while we cooked. We chose it, because since we have visited NYC, and the American Museum of Natural History (where the movie was filmed), we pretty much know the place completely, and therefore, the film has more relevance to us now.

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We watch the movie like bosses, each time see something that we visited, we made sure the other person was aware that we knew we had stood there too. We pointed out the exhibits that were accurate to the actual museum, and every street scape that came on the screen, we would point out that we had stood there also.

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Tasted great, btw

We also found out that Ben Stiller lived in Brooklyn in the movie, and since we also lived in Brooklyn for a few nights, we were pretty much neighbours with Ben Stiller.

Again, another day in Washington DC without bring thugged completely.

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

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