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5 Things I Learned as an Anonymous TSA Blogger

#2. Life as a Formerly Anonymous Controversial Blogger Means You Will Get Laid. A Lot.

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This is a lie.

#1. Coming Out from Anonymity Was Equal Parts Terrifying and Glorious

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I always imagined that my big reveal would be a Usual Suspects moment that would have me feeling very proud and clever ("Aha! None of my former co-workers knew that I was the anonymous blogger working right next to them all along! Fools!"), maybe sipping cognac by a fireside, uttering "Checkmate," with everything having proceeded according to plan.

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In reality, it was tequila by a space heater, but the principle was the same.

OK, I admit, coming out from anonymity was a little awesome in that Usual Suspects head-fucking kind of way. But for the most part, dropping the anonymity cloak turned out to be just as scary as it was awesome. The craziest part? What I thought would maybe be a large splash in a few U.S. publications turned out to be a full-on goddamned 14-story-high tsunami.

Remember that tweet I was bragging about before I lied to you about getting a ton of Snowden-style ass? By the end of the week of my POLITICO essay's publication, that tweet was being read aloud on Comedy Central by fucking Stephen Colbert. I realized how far out of control things had gotten several days before Stephen Colbert admired my tweet's truthiness on air, though, when I found Wolf Blitzer and Good Morning America's people in my inbox and voice mail requesting interviews the morning after the article's publication.

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On Day 2, Rachel Maddow pulled me off the street into an unmarked van.

I had been wondering if my former co-workers at Chicago O'Hare would end up seeing the story; now the question was whether any of them had not seen the story on national TV. Email from my former co-workers started pouring in almost immediately after the piece went live, most of them supportive in a holy-shit-I'm-watching-your-story-on-NBC kind of way. Somehow, I always imagined that my coming out from anonymity would elicit either the aforementioned shocked-and-awed response or an "I'll be damned! Look what that Harrington was up to all along!" sort of reaction.

I was surprised, then, when the other brand of email starting coming in: hate mail and sad mail. Many of the angry/disappointed former co-workers who emailed me felt as though I'd thrown the hardworking frontline TSA employee under the bus in return for publication glory.

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The third brand of email continued to offer me dick pills and questionable loans unabated.

The thing was, I'd actually been defending the everyman TSA employee for the prior year and a half on my blog, during all the periods when virtually no one was reading it. But when the POLITICO piece went viral, people suddenly discovered me and my blog and judged me solely on the one thing that happened to successfully make it into orbit. The resultant emails ranged from veiled death threats from former co-workers and warnings that the NSA was now watching me to people expressing their genuine fear that I may end up mysteriously disappearing one day soon.

The latter category of email brought up a question I've been asking myself from the beginning: Will I end up in legal trouble or have my laptop confiscated by the FBI or DHS? Possibly. That's the game I signed up for when I decided to click "publish" on that very first post. A few days after I came out from anonymity, a former manager of mine at Chicago O'Hare called and left a message on my voice mail requesting that I call him back. I never returned his call; I almost didn't want to find out what he wanted. And there's always the chance that one day, maybe soon, I'll get a knock on my door, an unfriendly letter in the mail, or another even more unpleasant phone call as a result of all this.

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Which tends to be the only type of call made by the FBI.

But I also got phone calls from interested film and TV producers, as well as from literary agents who thought my story and writing were generally hilarious, which means that, as an aspiring humor writer, even if I die under mysterious circumstances tomorrow, it was all totally fucking worth it.


Jason Edward Harrington does his best not to make enemies on Twitter.

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