Non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, always have some sort of fascinating information behind them.
Some people use these agreements for evil, to cover up their own transgressions by paying people large sums of money.
Others use it to protect their products or their information.
Here were some of those answers.
Ruby Or Ruse
My best friend worked at a roadside attraction near Chattanooga, TN, called Ruby Falls (there's something else called Ruby Falls elsewhere in the country). It's supposedly a waterfall inside a cave. Of course, the trail to the cave is re-done with all sorts of rock brought in from around the world - I think they've owned up to that part now.
But the "waterfall" itself is barely a trickle naturally, and then only in the wetter season. They've run a pipe up there to supplement the falls, hidden by cracks and crevices and cemented over, and powered by a pump off to the side, which you can't hear when the water is splashing down from 100 feet overhead. It's 99% from the City of Chattanooga (or maybe Lookout Mountain) municipal water supply.
Of course, with such a wet area, old electrical wires going back to the Great Depression, and 300 feet underground, it sputters, or shorts out and stops every now and then. The first rule in the Falls Room is "make everybody leave immediately if the power goes out", not for safety, but because the fable agreed-upon will be shown as fake.
The book you're reading might only be a "bestseller" because the author had enough money to buy thousands and thousands of copies, have them shipped to a warehouse for storage, and eventually destroyed.
Capital On A Name
I worked at a small bakery in New York City when I was younger. Every morning the bakery would take their day old cup cakes and deliver them to a tour company that did Sex and the City tours. The tour company would pass our cupcakes off as cupcakes from Magnolia, and significantly much more popular bakery.
A New Pretzel Decade
When i was fired from Auntie Anne's in 2010, I signed a 10 year non-compete/NDA contract, promising not to detail the baking secrets or work for another pretzel establishment.
Well that ended this year so now I can run out and start a pretzel store because the secret I was keeping was making pretzels literally requires 2 products, one of them being water and the other a large bag of pretzel meal/dust/powder. Quite literally anyone with $2500 can start a pretzel stand and make perfectly fine pretzels, it's not difficult whatsoever.
This Is, On Top Of Being Gross, Illegal
That married grocery store manager in his late 40's was , indeed, having sex with that 17 year old courtesy clerk in the compressor room.
This was 15 plus years ago when I was a Person In Charge, and not yet a full Assistant Store Manager. Our store in the backroom had a couple of rooms upstairs: a large room that housed all of our electrical breakers and back up generators, and a room that housed all of our compressors that kept our freezers and coolers running. Both were locked at all times for security reasons. They were accessible only through the backroom.
The 17 year old courtesy clerk (bagger), had worked there for a while. She was, uh, not the best worker. She had a habit of disappearing for a half hour or hour at a time. I, and the other PIC's complained and tried discipline, but the store manager blocked it. So, we just dealt with it. Yes, she was an attractive blonde.
I was in charge one night and we got an alarm that one of the compressors was low. It was my job to check the level, record the compressor number, and turn it in. When I went up to the room, the door was propped open with a bucket. I assumed whoever worked in the room last left it open. If you have never been in a compressor room before, I have to tell you that it is LOUD! Our store had several diesel engines that powered the compressors.
I proceed in to the back of the room, come around a corner to see the girl, not quite naked, but not fully clothed, being...serviced by our store manager (who had left for the day hours ago). Neither saw me and I hightailed it out of there.
I wrestled with what to do. I was worried about my career at the time, so I called the security hotline and made an anonymous call and told them in vague terms what happened and that they should contact me about details. I'm 100% certain that they knew it was me that called.
A couple of days later, the store manager is suspended, and I'm interviewed, the Assistant Store Manager is interviewed, and the PIC's. They tell us not to discuss it, so of course we did. I was a little late to the party. Almost everyone knew.
The store manager would use his store keys to come into the backroom, meet the courtesy clerk, and then would hook up in the compressor room. She was not the first teenager he had done this with at this store and others.
They fire the store manager, and like an idiot, he sues. Dozens of people are deposed, NDA's are drawn up and signed. He thinks better of it, drops the suit and that's the last I ever heard of him.
The girl quit right after the store manager was suspended.
Competing Within An Agency
I was a contractor for NASA. I still fully support the agency, but I was extremely bugged when I learned that each separate NASA center (e.g., JPL, Kennedy, Ames, Goddard) hides many of its inventions and breakthroughs from the other centers so that when HQ is ready to assign a big mission (and a lot of dollars) to one center, they have a better chance to compete over the others. "Look what we invented! Ames can't do this over there! Give us the next moon orbiter!"
The downside is that there is a ton of reinvention and duplicated efforts going on. Sometimes years of work go down the drain when another center does the same thing faster. My perspective was: you all work for NASA. Share knowledge, collaborate. I was frequently ordered to tone down anything revealing when speaking to other centers.
Rhymes With "Case"
I signed an NDA after negotiating a six figure settlement with my mortgage lender. Back in 2013, the bank illegally sold my home, while I was living there and making monthly payments. I discovered this when "new owners" evicted me and my three kids.
At the time, I thought someone was trying to steal my identity, etc. I spent the next two years writing legal documents and had to represent myself in court. (The bank "owned" every legit legal firm I contacted. Also, the first lawyer I hired took my last $7,000 and was promptly disbarred for misconduct with previous cases.) I had no money, no home but I had a laptop, printer and access to the county court law library.
We were about a week away from selecting a jury, when we came to a settlement agreement. In the end, each of my kids (now in their twenties) got an inexpensive new car and I live at the beach. "Which bank?" you ask. I can't tell you the name, but might I suggest that it rhymes with "case."
They settled because they were worried that if the case went to trial, it would become public. Then, everyone would know, for certain, that they had lied, cheated and swindled to steal homes from hardworking people. The bank would lose when no one took out new loans with them.
I received a posting on my front door. I went to the eviction court and lost, because technically the new owners paid for my house. I was given 7 days to move all my stuff (had lived there 13 years) or face the sheriff. I had three kids. I didn't want the drama of handcuffs. So we packed and moved, then sought "relief" through the court system.
This is something I could spend a lot of time diving into, but the sub-prime lending company I used to work for as a software engineer spent a lot of time and effort manipulating the UX of our various applications to encourage customers to accept loan terms that were not necessarily in their best interest. I quit pretty quickly after realizing that the people in charge had very little interest in actually supporting us in making a product that would be better for our customers.
Why Don't We Heed Warnings????
I was once an IT contractor for a now defunct bureau within the Department Of The Interior during the
Event Deepwater Horizon disaster. Since the department has its hands in off-shore drilling, they were part of the response team and boots on the ground.
Anyway, it's a little known fact that all the extra stress + aging IT equipment during the first 48 hours after the blowout took their entire authentication and email infrastructure down (Active Directory & Exchange) for two days. There were also other weird glitches from offices around the U.S. not related to the outage. A switch going out here; building automation there. It was a disaster. This was, of course, after years of emails and documentation stating they were heading that way.
I was directly involved with recovering that infrastructure and the aftermath of dissolving the bureau... which really wasn't anything special. They just became three different bureaus, got new email addresses, and continued on in their role under a new title.
Secret Super Secret
I once had to sign an NDA to get a price on a printer for my sign shop. This was a printer that was only sold by one distributor, by the way, so there wasn't even any direct competition on this particular model. I think they gimmick was that if they make a really big deal out of giving you this super secret pricing that you'd be lulled into thinking it was really something special.