I once found myself in a job where having a security clearance would be useful. I filled out the forms (can you list where you've been, what jobs you've held, and what schools you've attended for the last fifteen plus years making sure to account for every period longer than two weeks? Once you're done that you get to answer even more entertaining questions). I then went down to the local RCMP divisional headquarters in Edmonton to get myself fingerprinted.

As part of the process, the civilian at the desk takes my driver's license and disappears into the back room. A few minutes later, she reappears with a very strange expression on her face and asks "What's your middle name?". I tell her my middle name and her expression clears up. She's obviously now a happy camper again. The process continues (black ink and all) and soon we're done - I've got a form with my fingerprints on it and another form which says (roughly) "Although we can't be sure unless fingerprints are provided to us, the RCMP doesn't believe that Mr. Boulet has a criminal record" (I posted a copy of this form on my office door for the next few weeks).

As I'm getting ready to leave, I asked her why she wanted to know my middle name. Her reply was "There's a Daniel Boulet who's not a nice fellow". She then advised that I should probably get my middle name added to my driver's license.

As I'm walking out the door, I'm wondering how many police officers with guns drawn had been nearby ready to respond if I gave the wrong answer to the "What's your middle name?" question.

A few comments are probably in order:

  • I left with the only copy of my fingerprints and they had not been out of my sight at any point in time (i.e. the RCMP wasn't in a position to check them before giving me the form saying that they thought highly of me). I'm quite sure that they got a chance later once I'd submitted the security clearance application.

  • I already knew about a "Daniel Boulet" of almost exactly my age who had been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a prison guard in Quebec. I just didn't make the connection between this fact and the lady's expression until she told me that I had an "evil near-twin" of some sorts.

    Reading that a "Daniel Boulet" had killed a prison guard wasn't as strange a feeling as hearing a radio bulletin one day reporting that a "Daniel Boulet" had been killed in a military jet accident.

  • I tried to get my middle name added to my driver's license when I next renewed it. The conversation went something like this:

    • "I'd like to add my middle name to my driver's license."
    • "What's your middle name?"
    • I tell them.
    • "There isn't enough room on the form for all three names."
    • "Can I use a shorter form of my middle name?"
    • "No because that's not your real middle name."
    • "How about my middle initial."
    • "No."

    If I'm ever stopped by a police officer late at night, I think that I'll mention to him what my middle name is when I hand over my driver's license as I'd rather not have one of those "nervous police officer with gun drawn" incidents.

  • The company that I was working for went under about eighteen months later. I asked the company's (former) security officer about the clearance application a short while later. He told me that he'd heard that it was moving through the system when the company folded but that it had expired when the reason for getting it (i.e. the job) had expired.