Agent Name: Pizza Pilot
Real Name: Jessie Seiler
Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?
Oh man, it's so exciting to be chosen as Spy of the Month. As spies, a lot of what we do in kept necessarily in the dark. I mean, sure, you've heard about James Bond, but what about all the less flashy, more serious-minded spies out there? They're good because they're quiet about it, you know?
How did you first get involved at 826CHI?
I first got involved with 826CHI because a friend of mine used to volunteer here. He remembered that I love working with kids, and he was pretty sure I knew how to read. So I started with 826CHI in the fall of 2016. It's such an energizing and exciting time out from the rest of my life! No matter what's going on in the world or at work, I get to come watch these amazing kids build complex, original, and sometimes totally bonkers worlds of their own.
What has been your favorite 826 experience so far?
My favorite experience with 826CHI so far has been the Ears as Big as My Head listening party. It was so fantastic to hear the students in a different mode, interviewing their loved ones. We really are lucky to be able to share in these kids' lives.
What do you do when you aren’t working undercover?
When I'm not working undercover, I'm in public health. Which is weird, because I eat a ton of junk food. I also volunteer with an organization that helps new immigrants and refugees get settled in Chicago. I'm from LA originally and I've mostly lived in super hot places, so I spend a lot of time freaking out about the snow and annoying my friends by insisting that we walk through the baseball field full of the crackling fresh stuff every time it snows. Also, I am terrified of flying, which led me to being kind of obsessed with all the planes that are in the air at any given moment. So now I have this app on my phone that tells me where the planes overhead are coming from. It's weird, but I can be like, "Oh woah, that plane is coming in from Brazil! And it's been in the air for 11 hours! Welcome to snowy Chicago, you guys!"
Now I'm curious -- what's the longest flight you've ever been on?
Hmm, let's see. The longest flight I've ever been on was probably between Dubai and Dakar, which took 11 hours. This was back in my international spy days.
What's the hottest place you've ever lived? Any heat survival tips?
The hottest place I've ever lived was Senegal, where some parts of the country could get up to 125 degrees! Imagine trying to survive that without electricity. I recommend sitting very still under a tree, fanning yourself and your friends slowly with something, and drinking a gazillion liters of water. Also, the miracle of evaporative cooling is not to be overlooked: dunk yourself in water as often as possible, and then let your skin and hair dry slowly.
Our most infamous spies always have the best codenames -- what's yours?
My codename is Pizza Pilot. I was pretty hungry when I came up with it, because I'm always pretty hungry. I like the ambiguity. Am I the pilot of a piece of pizza? Is pizza my pilot? Are we all just crazy machines for converting pizza into flying energy? There's no way to know, in the end.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring spies of the month?
I tell all the aspiring spies I know that there's no substitute for curiosity. The best spies are the ones who are fascinated and who always want to learn more. If you want to get good at this business, always follow your brain down whatever crazy paths it leads you, whether that means you write every day without judgement just to keep those brain juices flowing, or you read something new to you and totally fascinating every chance you get, or you move your spy game to a whole new part of the world because you've never seen it before and it sounds like a good time.