Secrets - everyone has them, not everyone has secrets worth actually legally protecting.
Essentially, that's what an NDA is - an agreement not to disclose secrets. It's the grown-up no snitching pinkie swear. Except with an expiration date - and that's where things get interesting.
One Reddit user asked:
So like, all I'm saying is that I worked as a security officer in a wealthy community and we all knew about the "authorized vehicles" that you were supposed to just wave and open the gate for, no questions asked, no need to see the driver or passengers, no checking any vehicles they bring along with them.
I worked security for a gated neighborhood of extremely wealthy people. Like, fortune 500 CEO, Senator(s) (sometimes both), etc.
We got to know which cars were "authorized" without being authorized. Because we weren't allowed to stop them, question them, or log them in in any way.
Because they were dealers selling to the elite.
The resident would call down letting us know they had a guest coming, we'd get a name. Guy would pull up, give us a fake name, we'd refuse, he'd make a call, the resident would answer and have a small fit that we aren't letting them in. They'd then give us their real name and we'd let them through.
Later that report would be edited and we'd get a directive that that car was considered authorized but no documentation was to be done.
Same cars, same guys, always the same residents, always a short visit. The entire crew was either former military or former cops, it didn't take a genius for us to figure out what was going on.
Same thing for the minivans that'd come in with one guy and several scantily clad women, leave 20 minutes later minus one woman, then a cab would come a few hours later for the woman that stayed.
The Secret Ingredientpretzel GIF Giphy
I worked for a mall pretzel stand about 25 years ago and had to sign an NDA about the secret pretzel ingredient. It was baking soda.
Had a friend who managed one over a decade ago, and he liked to mess with people and tell them that the secret ingredient was a chemical compound called "sodium bicarbonate" to gauge their reaction. So entirely truthful, but people who either knew that it was just baking soda or pressed for what that meant in layman's terms were fine, but I watched him freak out a few "scary chemical" paranoid people.
Sweet 1999 Technology
The Nokia 7110 will have a scroll-wheel.
There it is. So glad I could finally talk about it!
Also the release wasn't delayed because of "problems with the operating system" but rather because the entire development team caught a rather bad flu. Probably from me.
I'm so sorry :-(
Library Statues Bring World Peace
I had an "artist" (he told me he was known all over the world) have me sign an NDA when I was a young website designer. He wanted a site to promote his new sculpture idea. I recall it was a group of kids holding hands in a circle, it looked ok but not unlike any sculpture you'd see outside a public library. This guy was saying it would lead to world peace and such.
The requirements for the website were CRAZY detailed, like 40 pages of instruction. It had diagrams of how I should use the mouse to make blur effects and similar bullsh*ttery. I remember we were going over his 'vision' after I signed the NDA and vividly thinking "oh, this guy is just plain crazy." After 10 minutes I said I had an emergency and had to go and just never talked with him again.
In The Family
As Security Chief, I found that my boss, the Region Security manager, was stealing.
At that time, I thought to keep things "in the family'; imagine the scandal that, in the security branch of a nationwide mobile phone company, one of the people in charge of security was caught doing what he was supposed to prevent. Naive me.
So I reported directly to the CSO who, after getting a confession, ask the culprit to resign.
After that, he placed his 24yo niece (or something, family related) in the Region management, then, after 2 months fired me.
A year later, I found out that the first boss was indeed the CSO cousin who ordered his niece to fire me in retaliation.
Wiser me knows now to bring those things directly to HR.
The Phone Had A Security Guard
I did an advert for what was at the time HTCs biggest swing into ultra high end phone technology. I was allowed to hold the phone during filming and a guard put it in a suitcase at all other times. I was not to talk about the phone until it was on sale to the general public.
Pretty lame now, but I had tech friends who knew I did the ad grill me about stuff. I wasn't even allowed to say what color it was.
Contactors and Contracts
I was previously not allowed to tell you that the company I used to work for did white label work for BT, and that if you ever have a BT Openreach engineer come out to your property, they very rarely actually work for BT themselves (basically if they have a BT van) and are in fact one-job contractors with next to no knowledge of what they're actually repairing.
I was also not allowed to tell you that while it's standard practice to have sales people not take their contacts with them when they move companies, and that my business would enforce that by suing leavers who did, they also would not employ sales people who said they were not allowed (or not willing) to poach their previous clients and contacts from their previous company.
I can definitely confirm this.
A few years back I was having major broadband problems. It eventually turned out to be a simple fix at the exchange (a wire had come loose) but prior to having the engineer out who actually did something about it, the two prior engineers were both from "Openreach" and when they arrived they had no idea my broadband was even offline until they walked in to my flat.
FortniteMello GIF by Marshmello Giphy
I got into a super small alpha test of a game in... 2013? It was a new survival game, one of those where you build during the day and try to survive the night, and let me tell you, the game was so, so meh. I played in a small server for about 4 hours and was so bored I just stopped playing for the rest of my access time.
There were all kinds of issues, not with the tech, but just glaring flaws in how the game worked. Some resources were way too abundant, some were really rare, there was practically no music, and the guns were dull. We also completely broke the enemy AI by building a jump pad to get up to a floating platform that required using your air control, so the zombies couldn't get up to us.
The game was Fortnite. The feedback on that alpha we played was so bad they basically took the whole game back into development until the version you know came out. What we were playing was a pretty early version of Save the World, except it was more like a typical Survival game. No BR back then, as you might expect.
So Much Nothing
I did some IT stuff for a state government (a couple actually, but only one had me sign an NDA).
Nothing terribly interesting other than there is so little for tourists to do in the state that they photoshopped people kayaking in the super polluted river that no one would dream kayaking in
Even worse, they listed attractions from the next state over as something tourists could do while visiting them.
I was hit by a Walmart 18-wheeler. I was on the freeway minding my own business, almost done passing him, when he decided to merge into my lane. The rotation from his tires between my door and the frame welded the door closed, and completely destroyed the rear axle, which ripped off the frame (fwd. Engine still kicked over, and drove it up on the trailer at a decent angle) Took everything in my power to stabilize the car and keep control. The trucker just kept driving. I was fortunate a car behind me witnessed the whole thing, stopped, checked if I was okay, then drove up to find the dude accessing the damage to his truck at a gas station a little further up. They got the license plate for me so they could come back and give it to the officer for the report.
I know I could have sued for a pretty penny, but my only requests were;
a.) My medical bills be covered (only had whiplash, other than that, I was unharmed thankfully)
b.) I wanted to know, for a 100% fact he lost his license, and would never have the capability to do what he did to me, to someone else.
Received a call about a month later letting me know my hospital bills had been paid, my check for my car should have arrived, and that he was in fact fired and had his licensed revoked.
Pepto and Antibiotics
In the early 80s, I was a struggling theatre person trying to make ends meet. I knew a lot of production so most of my gigs (in the pre-gig economy days) was a day here and there doing corporate production, like conferences and meetings. They paid amazingly well.
I was hired to do sound for a top secret meeting at Smith-Kline. NDAs were routine so I didn't think twice. There was a group of video guys to manage images and such and a couple of us audio guys whose job it was to run the mics of the people in the meeting up and down, and we were all hidden behind the screen.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss recent research they had which showed that stomach ulcers were caused by a bacteria called "campylobacter pylori." Smith-Kline's #1 drug at the time was called Tagamet, and it was an ulcer treatment that worked by inhibiting the production of stomach acid. It was going to go out of patent in the next few years.
The top secret meeting was to discuss the fact that they had discovered that the most effective treatment for stomach ulcers, with this new information on campylobacter pylori, was antibiotics supplemented with the use of bismic salts - which just happened to be the main ingredient in pepto bismol, the big over the counter stomach medication in the US at the time.
They had to decide whether to release the studies they had which showed their #1 drug was not as effective as an over the counter medication, or suppress their data and hope they got to the end of their patent on Tagamet to get as much money as possible before the truth came out.
I don't recall any decision anymore. I DO know the info did not come out for years, and I remember telling the story as soon as ten years had passed, and saying they voted to suppress the data, but I cannot swear to that.
The point is, they knew and years passed before it became common knowledge that stomach ulcers can be treated with pepto and antibiotics. It was my first introduction into a world where people's health is secondary to profits.
The bitter irony was I HAD stomach ulcers and took tagamet, so was a real victim of their decision. I started using pepto bismol right away in the 80s, but my doctor did not have the necessary information to prescribe an antibiotic for my stomach infection until 1996. So I had to treat my symptoms for a decade until the actual infection could be addressed. I suffered until the mid 90s when I was finally cured.
Those "best of" professional lists? Whether it's national ("Best Doctors," "Best Lawyers," "Best Dentists") or local ("Best Local Florist," "Best Place to Grab a Beer") most of the time you can scam your way onto it. You can either buy your way on, or you can stuff the ballot box.
I worked on one that you COULDN'T game, and it pissed people off, because they were so accustomed to buying their way into first place. It was ridiculous. I got cussed out by business owners who couldn't buy their way on, and I got cussed out by business owners who didn't try and didn't make the list.
Later, I worked for a national list. It took me two weeks to figure out how the company was encouraging their clients to game the system. So disheartening.
That Marketing Plan, Tho
Some dude was going to revolutionize the world by building Google Calendar, only somehow better. His marketing plan was, tell his friends about it. And when I say he was going to build it, he wanted me to build it. But he wanted me to sign an NDA before he told me what he wanted me to build.
Yeh I politely declined, trying to stifle my laughter.
So the story isn't exciting or big like some of the others ITT. Just a funny example of some really unwarranted self importance.
Background Artdog painter GIF Giphy
A friend signed an NDA when she did an art portrait of a family. She has a pretty unique style. She never broke the NDA, but then a year or so later, the celebrity has a random candid Instagram post in her home and the art was in the background.
So I guess it is now public and okay to share?
Chat Box Not-Bots
If you ever go to a car dealership's website, most have a chat box where you can talk to a real person. 99% of the people you are talking to do not work at the dealership, they work for a 3rd party company whose sole purpose is to get your name and preferably your phone number (though we took email addresses, too, if they didn't want to give us their phone number), so they can give it to the dealership's sales team and a salesman can contact you about buying a new car. Also, 90% of the stuff you guys ask about is easily found on the website, you just have to spend more than 10 seconds looking.
The company I worked for handled chat for about 60 or so car dealerships from all over the United States. Most of the dealerships were located in the Bible belt, but we did have several in South Carolina, and a few in Hawaii, too. Each computer was the same avatar. So we may have six computers, and number one is the avatar of 'Mary', then #2 was 'Peggy', etc. you get the idea.
No matter who sat at what computer each day the name of the avatar didn't change. Studies have shown that even when bluntly asking for information, people are more comfortable talking to women than men, and are more willing to give up information that they may not give up to a man. We also were never to tell the person on the other end that we didn't work for the dealership, but if they ever asked we weren't to lie but tell them we worked with the dealership.
I and everyone I worked with all had our own google docs or Microsoft word pages where we kept answers to commonly asked questions, such as what is the phone number, what are the hours of operation, and our signature "I'm having trouble finding that information right now, but let me get your last name and your phone number and I can have someone find out and contact you about it." Like I said before, the sole purpose of our chats was to get your contact information, so even if we knew what the mileage on a certain vehicle was, we were supposed to feign ignorance and have someone contact you about it so they could push a car sale. Sometimes when you're chatting to people like us, they can seemingly type out long paragraphs much faster than they should be able to. This doesn't necessarily mean they are a robot, but much more likely that someone else before you asked that exact question, and they already had a response ready to be copied and pasted over.
Short term NDA because we were working the roll out of Boeing's newest jet. It was an in-house showing for company big-wigs and assorted vice-presidents before the actual roll out for the public a couple days later. Massive signs everywhere "NO CAMERAS" "NO CELL PHONES" It was laid out to us verbally in our briefing "NO CAMERAS" "NO CELL PHONES" They couldn't have made it any clearer.
First thing one of our chowder-heads does once we get into the hanger is snap a selfie with the new jet. Security was on him like white on rice. Yanked the phone out of his hands, erased everything on it, and escorted him off the property. Permanently barred from all Boeing facilities. The rest of us just stood by and watched as he got perp walked out. He had to hang around outside the gate until we were done and then flag down a ride from someone.
The Company Expired First
Worked for an OEM back when Intel's new Penryn with the 1333Mhz FSB came out, and was having ground plane issues because other OEMs *cough*DELL*cough* cheeped out on motherboard components.
The company I worked for expired before the NDA did...
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