I’ve never considered myself a dishonest person. I’ve always been a communicative girlfriend; an honest best friend; and, in my more recent years, a candid daughter (my mother was not thrilled to learn about the hit-and-run, but I know we’re stronger for it).
So when I stood up at Dylan&Josh’s weekly Team Meeting, I never expected to lie. After all, Dylan&Josh is the important men’s lifestyle brand that bravely fights to deliver high-end toothpaste to males, and I had just been entrusted with the role of their head of sales of their radical product. According to the company handbook, the mission requires us to be transparent. And brave. And progressive. And fashionable. And scrappy. And wildly successful. We are all of these things, and they never conflict with one another. In that moment, I wanted the CEOs, Alex and Alex (Dylan & Josh were names that tested well with male audiences), to know that they weren’t making a mistake by hiring me.
At Dylan&Josh, Team Meetings are no ordinary town-hall gatherings. Team Meeting is a blast! And by “blast,” I mean new hires share fun facts about themselves at every meeting. These range from “I hiked Kilimanjaro with my dude Justin” to “I hiked the Appalachian Trail with my dude Justin.” Team Meeting is truly so fun and different from normal corporate meetings, I practically want to gouge my eyeballs out, rip of all the premature-balding men’s hair in the company, and scream “CAPITALISM IS LEGIT EVIL AND UR ALL COMPLICIT LOL!!!!” Yeah, it’s a good time.
I had been planning my fun-fact for weeks. I had the perfect one to convey to the rest of the company that I, too, grew up white and wealthy, but in an offbeat way. When the microphone got passed to me (our start-up only consists of 30 people, but you better believe our Team Meeting takes place in a stadium because that’s fun and an appropriate use of resources!), I calmly stood and cleared my throat.
“Hi, I’m Angela, the new head of sales, and my fun fact is that I was a Junior Olympic archer in high school.” This elicited oohs and ahh’s from the crowd. I sat down, my cheeks burning. My co-workers probably assumed that I was uncomfortable with public speaking. Of course, had they seen me on the witness stand following my pesky little felony, they would’ve thought differently. The truth is, I wasn’t a Junior Olympic Archer in high school. I was training to be one, but I never actually made it to Nationals.
This isn’t rare. Most of the girls on my high school team didn’t make it to nationals. Nationals was highly competitive! So, what compelled me to sputter such a downright lie? A falsity? I guess, at this company where production speaks volumes, I wanted to show that I produced results. So I lied. I said I had a marker of success when, in reality, my passion for archery had merely helped me develop a strong work ethic, the ability to collaborate with a team, and a passion for being active. Who gave a crap about those things?
In the following hours, I felt like I had a target on my back. This was worse than being the only woman working at a men’s lifestyle startup! Everywhere I went, I felt eyes on me. Could they tell I was lying? Did they think I was a fraud? Did Alex & Alex no longer trust me to do my job at Dylan&Josh? I started to get hives. Luckily, the Product team was developing a new men’s skincare line; I tried out the beta and it made my hives disappear.
By the time they reappeared in a vastly brighter hue (turns out the skincare line had bypassed a few important QA iterations in the rush to disrupt the market before Elon’s Musk could launch), I had left the company — they found out about my history of manslaughter before uncovering my massive alternatruth — but I have chosen to reframe this as a valuable lesson. Lying is not a core value. From now on, I strive to be truthful and honest.
Also, if you could fill my canteen balance, I’d appreciate it. Orange may be the new black, but ramen noodles are still the only thing you can safely eat in prison.
SOPHIE ZUCKER (T.A.) is a comedian-slash-child-star who loves musicals and slime. She has appeared in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and has written and produced videos for Jill Soloway’s wifey.tv. She wrote, produced, and starred in a million sold-out shows in New York and is now a TV writer in L.A.. @mightyzucks