My Life as a Spy....Secret Shopper, Actually.

I was agent 213.

When I was a wee lass, at the age of 32, ahem. I was busy with a new baby and living a life in San Diego away from Guam. One day, my wonderful husband came home and said, “How would you like to eat sandwiches for free AND get paid?”

It was the most romantic thing he had ever said to me. (I kid).

So, I did a quick, over the phone interview, sounding as eloquent as I could. Guaranteeing my 1 ½ year old would behave when I would evaluate restaurants, and that I could speak and write ‘good’. (I kid).

So, I did this for almost 4 years. Secret Shopping. A shoppers dream come true, right?
Except, I wasn’t a shopper by nature. I would rather be sitting on those benches in department stores with the weary husbands, resting my feet while my spouse hunted and gathered. What I did have going for me were my powers of observation and the great skill of writing quick, dull-only the facts, ma’am write ups. I was paid between $8.00 and $12.00 a report, mileage sometimes included. I made over $800.00 one month and was over the moon. I expanded from popular sub-sandwich shops to tacos. Then as they trusted my skills more, I was given banks and credit unions. Oh, joy! So, with about a hundred bucks per institution (never my own money) I opened nearly ten bank accounts in a two week span. I asked my boss, “Are you sure I won’t get flagged by the authorities?” I used my real name at each institution, and I was nervous at first having so many bank books to juggle. But, I became better at looking like just a regular customer.

My targets then expanded to phone calls, which was a relief as I birthed my second child during my stint as a spy secret shopper.

I enjoyed these because my spy lying skills were flexed. When the representative would ask for my name, I could be anyone! So, during the height of the Twilight obsession, I was every female character, except for Renesme.

“Hi, I’m Bella.”

“Hi, I’m Alice.”

“Hi, I’m Rosalie.”

Being half-Korean, I was given all the overseas banks at military bases in Japan and Korea. The mere mortals found it hard speaking to representatives who spoke English as a second language. I, on the other hand, was raised by a beautiful Korean mom who also spoke and sometimes slaughtered the English language. (Think of Margaret Cho’s comedic imitations of her Korean mom’s accent-snippet below). I had those special powers and those calls paid well.

Last week, I decluttered my new office, making it more conducive and feng shui-ish for my writing flow. I found a huge stack of evaluations from my secret shopping days. I was glad for the experience and the opportunity to write, but I was also glad to shred and recycle this 100 pound stack of paper.

Moving forward. When I told the company I worked for that I was no longer going to do evaluations so I can pursue writing full time (this was just before Attitude 13 and Sirena were released), my handler said, “Oh, well, good luck with that. But in case that doesn’t pan out, you can always come back to us." Them fighting words! I thought to myself. So, today I announced on Facebook and here that I will be moving forward. I’m thankful for the literary guidance of other authors like Lani Wendt Young and Carlene Rae Dater. I’m thankful for the self-publishing opportunity Amazon’s Createspace provides. I’m thankful for the many beta-writers I’ve had for the first novel I’m releasing soon.

In addition, I’m thankful for the wealth of experience that espionage secret shopping gave me, since it is a highlight in the novel, aptly entitled, Secret Shopper.

I’m working on a kick ass cover, drafts actually, drawing and coloring really, with my children, but I’m excited. Doing final edits of this manuscript that is almost three years old and in it’s fourth draft. Secret Shopper by Tanya Taimanglo is ripe and about ready for the pickings. I hope the world is ready for the strong Chamorrita lead this novel offers. More to come!

Thank you for the support.
Esta Later!


  1. I never realized you were such a talented and entertaining writer, but, of course, how could I have known? I look forward to the book once completed.


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