I was driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and noticed a big ad on the back of an L.A. city bus that said, "Today's FBI. It's for you." Then it said there were job openings, and if I were interested, I should go online to fbijobs.gov. I immediately started to wonder if putting an ad on the back of a bus was the best way for the FBI to find the best people for the job.
This naturally led me to think about the various FBI firings and resignations in recent years. Is it possible that the FBI people who had messed up had joined the Bureau after seeing a similar ad on a bus? Had they joined in the same way that others had responded to ads for teeth whiteners, lawyers for those hurt in motorcycle accidents, and bilingual lessons in computer science?
When I got home, I went to the FBI Web site. Within a matter of seconds, a wave of anxiety began to pour over me. It was because I figured that just by logging on, the FBI would know who I was and where I was. (And I knew that if this knowledge ever came to light, the president would explain to the public that it was necessary for the government to know the identity of any curious columnist who happened to check out the Web site.)
I was interested in knowing how successful the bus ad campaign had been in my area. So, I typed in my ZIP code in the appropriate box, knowing that those simple keystrokes could possibly send the FBI to my house before dinnertime. The next page gave me the address and phone number of my local FBI office. I called them. (By this point, I figured I had nothing to lose. They were probably already going over my high school transcript and my most recent grocery receipts.)
Unfortunately, a human didn't answer the phone at the FBI. It was one of those "press one for this, press two for that" menus. I pressed the appropriate button and left a message identifying myself and saying that I was interested in learning how successful their back of the bus ad campaign had been. Then I left my home phone number. (I know, I know.)
Nobody from the FBI ever called me back. I'm sure they have more important things to do than return phone calls from a guy who wants to write a column about their recruitment methods. So, I went back online and read more about the Bureau.
The more I read, the more interesting it sounded. I started thinking that maybe today's FBI really was "for me." I wasn't tempted to give up writing, but I thought maybe they could use some part-time help. I didn't think I should be out there shooting at people and having them shoot at me, but I thought I could handle an office job. I could be the guy who sticks the pins in the map, or tells the other agents, "Why don't you look for this guy at his mother's house?"
But then I saw something on the Web site that disappointed me. To be an FBI Special Agent, you have to be at least 23 and not more than 37 years old.
I met the "at least 23" requirement with no sweat, but the "not more than 37" was another story. This didn't seem fair to me. There are plenty of smart, capable people over the age of 37, and maybe the FBI could use some of us with more life experience. (And how did they arrive at the number 37, anyway?)
But I wasn't that upset. That's because I know that those of us over 37 may apply to many other jobs that don't have age limits. And if this advertising campaign of the FBI's works out, all of us in that age category may soon see an ad on the back of a bus that will read, "Want a good paying job with excellent healthcare benefits? Just apply to IwanttobePresident.com."
Lloyd Garver writes a weekly column for SportsLine.com. He has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, even the one sanctioned for boys by J. Edgar Hoover.
By Lloyd Garver