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An improvised threat turns the tables.
On Monday night in Washington, D.C., a woman walking to her Capitol Hill townhouse was grabbed by a man who told her to give him her wallet and phone. But where most of us would have happily parted with our possessions in order to escape unharmed, this victim took a different tack: She claimed to work for the National Security Agency, and that the agency would trace her phone if she lost it.
Pretending to be an NSA intern was the first strategy she could think of, she later told the Washington Examiner. The story simultaneously explained why she had no cash on her—painting herself as an unpaid employee—and put the paranoia of government surveillance into the mugger, with the chilling suggestion that the NSA could “cause problems” for him down the line if he didn’t walk away. After brief consideration, he did.
The victim, meanwhile, did have money in her wallet, and in fact works as a staffer for a nonprofit organization. Though after that reflexive bit of mental jiujitsu, she may want to consider a career in government after all. It seems like they could really use a problem-solver up there on the Hill.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'