It was with a great deal of enthusiasm that Pat, fresh out of college, joined Multinational Bank. Their technology division was the pride of the financial industry, and the on-boarding session Pat received did not disappoint: he was treated to a full day of slideshows on compliance, whistle-blowing, and, most importantly, ethics.

When on-boarding was complete, Pat's first port of call was one of the bank's many conference rooms. His team was in the process of taking over a project from a remote office via a flurry of emails and conference calls. These were simpler times, before Cisco's robust line of telepresence solutions. If the bank had deployed videoconferencing, as they would a few years later, Pat's story might have turned out very differently.

Pat was having a good morning: he managed to gulp down a bowl of cereal at his desk and pull a fresh cup of coffee just in time to make it to the conference before his manager showed up. When the manager, Bob, and Pat's teammate Steve entered, an unfamiliar face trailed behind them. Before Pat could introduce himself to the newcomer, the Architect cleared his throat on the far side of the speakerphone. The Architect, having ruled over His Project with an iron fist for three years, was somewhat domineering when it came to knowledge transfer, loath to let his Great Work languish in the hands of Pat's team. But bowing as he must to the corporate will, his influence was limited at this point to imposing a strict roll-call.

"Good morning, Bob here," Pat's manager said. Pat waited his turn.

"Steve here," Steve said. Pat looked to the other new guy expectantly. When the stranger hesitated, Pat drew in a breath, prepared to speak.

"This is Pat," the stranger blurted. Pat was taken aback. He was about to comment on the coincidence when Bob caught his eye. With a hiss too quiet to register on the speakerphones of that era, he silenced Pat. And so, eyeing Bob fearfully all the while, Pat learned the contours of his new job: learned he was in the midst of a web Bob had been spinning since long before he was hired.

The synonymous stranger, Pat soon learned, was not named Pat. His name was Archibald, and, with his decade of C/C++ experience, he was the linchpin of Bob's plan. Since the Architect had made it clear that only a deeply experienced developer could possibly be an appropriate inheritor of His Project, Bob's epiphany was to pull the senior Archibald in for the conferences alone while hiring a greenhorn at one-third the market rate to actually handle the development.

With no choice but to play his part in the charade, Real Pat spent a month taking notes, while his sinister alter-ego did all the talking on the calls, going so far as to engage in full-blown arguments with the Architect about the project's architecture. One particularly stormy call ended with such passive-aggression that Bob, Steve, and Evil Pat took the next day off in outrage. Real Pat had almost settled into a peaceful morning of solo coding when Bob's name appeared on his call display:

The Architect insisted on going ahead with that morning's meeting, and the only one there to attend was Real Pat. Real Pat, who had never spoken in the meetings before.

Real Pat, who, aside from possessing a fraction of the domain knowledge, sounded nothing whatsoever like his twisted doppelgänger.

Bob's only advice before hanging up the phone was that Pat should stand at the far end of the room, hoping the speakerphone would obscure his voice enough to continue the ruse.

Armed with that suggestion and little else, Real Pat could only watch the minutes tick by, the Project's doom at the hands of the Architect - and his doom along with it - all but assured.

Real Pat did his best. Sitting across the room, facing away from the speakerphone, he begged the Architect's forgiveness for the mysterious technical difficulties that made him so hard to hear. Between that and the best damn impression of Evil Pat that he could muster, the Project was saved. Pat and the Architect forgave each other for "their" disagreement, and agreed that the next phase of the Project would be a resounding success.

For playing his part in the web to perfection, Bob gave Real Pat the next day off. Pat spent it adding "professional mimic" to his résumé.