We have all at one time or another wondered if we could get away with something immoral, illegal or otherwise dishonest. However, there are typically multiple aspects to making it out of such situations scot-free. In addition, people are often tempted to do wrong in situations that catch them by surprise. And when they do give in to that temptation to engage in misconduct, it is not uncommonly without the greatest amount of forethought.
So, rather than planning the greatest heist of all time and getting away with it completely, all too often shit goes sideways, and then the covering of one’s tracks becomes a necessity. First, let it be known that we here at Skillset value the truth above all, but we also realize just how complicated life gets sometimes. Therefore, to spare would-be liars, prevaricators and equivocators as much unnecessary grief as possible (but not necessarily as much as they deserve), here is a discussion of 10 things to keep in mind to ensure that an alibi stays airtight.
The fewer people you include in your circle of trust, the better. If anything were to happen and you found yourself as a person of interest, you can bet the first people who will be questioned are going to be your family, friends and coworkers. The last thing you want is for your innocence or presumed innocence to be compromised by those who may not see you in the light you would prefer to be seen. By keeping a tight circle, those who would vouch for your character will do so in a more positive way than a broader sampling of your acquaintances might—unless, of course, your family and friends hate you. (In that case, bribery is a good option!)
If you tell even one person any details about what happened or didn’t happen, then consider that the truth moving forward. Any conversation you subsequently have with anyone else should match the details of that first conversation, so there will be continuity throughout. Any small discrepancy in your story could mean the difference between being seen as having an honest character or instead as someone who cannot be trusted on the witness stand.
Make your actions habitual, expected and something that can be verified by different sources when called into question. For example, perhaps you go to the local bar every Friday night, and the staff there knows you as someone who always pays your tabs in cash. However, if you are not present the Friday that the event that requires covering up occurs, they may inadvertently place you there on that particular Friday anyway because they are simply accustomed to your routine. This could work in your favor. Just do not try to lie about your whereabouts if there are electronic records of financial transactions that place you elsewhere. (Have you ever seen a cash register receipt without a date on it?)
This should be blatantly obvious, but for some reason, whenever someone does something “extraordinary,” they almost always have to tell someone. Whether that is via outright boasting or just confiding in someone, don’t do it. All you need is for one person to overhear or to repeat your conversation, and then the gig will likely be up for you.
It can be suspicious today not to have an online presence of any kind. Don’t think of social media as a BS waste of time or simply a millennial conversation starter. It can also serve as an additional alibi, so keep on it and make sure it is as up to date as it typically is. (Social media is one of the first things checked by law enforcement—or by someone who has a legitimate reason to snoop on you—to verify a person’s whereabouts.)
In addition to social media, any form of technology you have on your person is more than likely equipped with some form of built-in GPS tracking. It may not be exactingly accurate, but make sure that your alibi lines up with where your tech records you as being located. Any discrepancy between where you say you were and where your Apple Watch says you were will be considered highly suspect, if not outright untruthful.
Don’t let yourself be caught off guard. Try to work through and anticipate all possible outcomes of a given situation. Any surprise or premature decision can lead to a crack in the foundation of your alibi. Don’t freak out because shit happens; just do your best to go with the flow. The last thing you want to do is to make decisions fueled by adrenaline and uncertainty.
The U.S. Constitution grants us certain inalienable rights, but make sure that you understand that by invoking such rights, you may inadvertently call into question your innocence. (Even though that is the opposite of what is intended.) Therefore, know not only what you are allowed to say and do or not to say and do, but also what doing or not doing these means in the eyes of those who would accuse you.
Likewise, laws can vary considerably from state to state, and both laws and your rights can differ extraordinarily in foreign locales. You may find yourself detained far from home, and if that is the case, make sure that you understand the differences (both written and unwritten) between where you are and where you are from.
Once you start the process of falsification, there is no turning back. If you suddenly get wet feet, those who are also involved with your lie may feel at risk themselves, and they may take whatever control you have out of your hands for their own sakes. Any time you stray from your initial plan, it becomes more likely that you will do something that will reveal the truth of what really happened to others.
Nothing that has ever withstood the tests of time was erected in 24 hours. Take your time and really think through all the implications of what you are considering doing and what you are actually willing to do. For a plan to work and not to have any weak links, give it the time and attention it needs; otherwise, something that was not given adequate consideration may cause your plan to go off the rails, and you will finally know what it means to have your salad tossed!
If you find yourself facing a troubling situation that may lead you to lie or to have to cover your tracks, make sure that you keep your head in the right place and always maintain your situational awareness. The best thing you can do is to keep your cool and not let anyone or anything cloud your judgement. The worst thing you can do is to freak out and set yourself up for failure from the outset. While it is always best to live your life in a way that requires no dishonesty, sometimes that is not always possible. So, if you must lie for good reason, act and react thoughtfully and without undue haste. What happens to you afterward will definitely depend upon it.