Many were in the running for the Goo Goo Muck's coveted Person of the Year. Perhaps that new Pope? The President or First Lady? A posthumous award for Nelson Mandela? Or any number of scientists, artists, athletes, or businesspeople who inspired, challenged, or led us this past year? The guy who played Billy Jack (R.I.P?)
All worthy choices. But they all share one disqualifying characteristic. They all did something.
This year's hero is John C. Beale, EPA official, and work-avoider extraordinaire.
While you were calling in to work with your "food poisoning" or "stomach bug," Beale convinced his bosses that he was a CIA agent undertaking secret missions and didn't show up for months. During the time Beale wasn't slaving for The Man, he "spent much of the time... at his
Northern Virginia home riding bikes, doing housework and reading books,
or at a vacation house on Cape Cod."
Beale was pulling in over 200 grand, which would make lesser men give up the grift and focus on doing a good job. Beale, however, realized those people are suckers.
Plus, once you have your supervisors convinced that you work for the CIA, it's kind of hard to dial back.
My previous working hero was Steven Slater, that flight steward who cussed out his plane, took some beers, flipped the double bird, and slid off the plane on the inflatable slide. But while Slater was a hero for expressing our frustration, Beale is a hero for pulling off the most audacious work-related scam ever. Sure, he's going to jail, but anyone who can pull off a scam like that deserves our respect, if only for the pure outrageousness.
How did it start? How did he convince himself that his bosses would buy his CIA story? How did that first meeting go? Was he nervous? Confident? Ready to pull the "Hey, I'm just joking, I'll get back to work now" card?
Hopefully he will stand up at the close of his trial and give us a breakdown of the entire escapade, inspiring a nation in desperate need of heroes.