My introduction to the addiction of interacting with complete strangers started as a teen in the late-1970s, at the beginning of the CB Radio craze. From the recesses of the space beneath my raised alcove bed, I could communicate with strangers within a 20 mile radius of my parents home. Back then you had to be pretty honest about who you were because when you live in a small town, sometimes these strangers could and would just show up at your front door. I met a good number of my long time friends through CB Radio, with most of them first introducing themselves at my front door, unannounced.
My next foray into the territory of strangers came via amateur radio, which expanded my radius from 20 miles to thousands miles. My favorite group of strangers was a close-knit group that populated 3905 MHz in the 40 meter amateur radio band. They called themselves the "Boogers." Most of the Boogers appeared to be ex-spooks and hardcore retired military and few non-categorized professionals. I do know that one of them, "Spider," was slated to be the first doctor aboard the International Space Station when its construction was completed.
Although I have not been able to verify it, one of the personal items Spider planned on taking with him to the space station was something the group called "The Booger Bible" which was a book passed around and added to by all of the members. Included in that book was some artwork done by myself and my friend Michael KIingensmith while we were still in high school. The art was a drawing of super-hero called "SnotMan" and the realistic snot on it was the yellowish paste-up wax borrowed while typesetting our school newspaper. The caption read "Speed to your targets my little snotballs!"
My two favorite strangers from the group were Jim (Callsign KI6UP aka Kilo India Six Under Panties) and Paul (Callsign N5DUP aka November Five Dirty Under Panties) Both had an unbelievable sense of humor.
I recall one night when someone asked Paul what he did for a living, he told them he was a traveling faith healer for Jerry Falwell Ministries. Over the course of an hour he gave detailed, yet unbelievable, answers this other person’s questions about his job and that person never had any idea he was just pulling their leg. It was all in good fun. In actuality, he was a high profile telecommunications consultant.
When I started traveling a lot on business, my interacting with strangers moved over to the world of the newly opened public Internet, right after Al Gore created it in six days. Using a piece of software called "Internet In a Box" my radius of strangers expanded to the entire world. Using IRC software I could pretty much talk to anyone anywhere. One of the friends I made there was named Jason, and borrowing from the idea I picked up from Paul , Jason and I started having a little bit of fun with something I'm now going to call "Interactive Flash Fiction." Anytime someone new came into the chat room they would invariably ask where everyone was from. Jason and/or I would answer beginning with "I live and work in [random city/country]." This always led to the next question "Oh, what kind of work do you do?" At this point we would stretch our imaginations and go on and on about some fictional job that was just too good or funny to be true.
One time I described in detail my job as a designer of ergonomic mop handles for Acme Wood Products in Salem Oregon. Another time I was a researcher for Nielsen about how violence on TV affects people who oppose violence on TV. Once, I was a geneticist who analyzed chewing gum from underneath drinking fountains in old condemned buildings and then sold this information to medical researchers and marketing agencies. Surprisingly, all you had to do to add credibility to your story was to being your story with "Well believe it or not…" and people would buy it hook, line & sinker. "Believe or it or not, I am a consultant for a major soda bottling company and I am here researching the best methods of using rain forest depletion as a marketing gimmick for our new soft-drink." Sometimes we could keep this conversation going on for hours before finally telling the person we were just kidding.
The last job story I remember is that I was lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I was the patent holder of the "artificial cow" used in cattle rustling sting operations.
I'm surprised that I didn't think of "Tunisian camel jockey" at the time and further wondering how many will actually get that reference.
Again, it was all in good fun.
I suppose the sad ending to this post is that nowadays, when someone online tells you a tall story about themselves, it's not about having a little fun, it's just that the person is full of crap or hiding something.