Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Day In the Life Of A P.I.

I've always wanted a forum like this. A place where I could post my thoughts, reflections and... primarily...
offload some of the rougher visual images of  the day into words I could release from my overloaded subconscious.
I figured a blog, in turn, would serve both self-therapeutic, and helpful to others.
I also wanted this tiny spot in time and cyberspace to be a place where I could challenge the image of fictionalized television and novelized P.I.'s.
I also wanted to post daily... primarily for one reason.
To see if I could.

And then again, I wondered, do people really want to hear...
Or even  care?
And equally important, do I dare?
Talking or writing about a current case is ethically and legally verbotten. A.K.A. (also known as) a "no-no."
What I write about must be public record... and must I.D. no party, or individual, I or any law firm I work with, work for.
So for a licensed P.I., writing a blog is like walking in a minefield.
Yet it's nothing compared to the the day job, which is also a night job.

More days than not... which is most days... this one included... I get in my faithful Trailblazer, warm it up, while I load the first location into my GPS to head north, south, east, or west to a  new place, new person, new collision yard, new accident scene, new witnesses. 

I am forever opening strange front gate hinges, accessing gated apartments or communities, ringing bells, stepping over puddles of water (or pee), knocking on doors unknown and listening to the sounds of barking dogs behind doors. Sometimes I hear children laughing, parents screaming, televisions blaring behind those closed doors.

Occasionally, I hear nothing... or hear everything turn off... as whoever is there pretends not to be.
I grab my cell, call their number, stand at the door, hear my phone ringing in their house.
They don't pick up.
P.I.'s get used to be ignored or avoided professionally.

Sometimes I go door-to-door on what is called a "canvass", to locate witnesses to an accident ,incident,  event, crime.
A favorable, previously unknown witness can be a smoking gun that wins a case and wins an attorney's  loyalty and continuing business

Other times, I take a metal and plastic wheel and walk it the length of long, wet, desolate roads, measuring distances.
I field questions from curious on-lookers and  work around schizoid street people.
I use a waterproof notebook to sketch scenes and apply measurements.
I put a plastic bag around my beloved camera to protect it from the endless rain. 
Then I photograph the scene from multiple directions.
Plus debris, skid marks, oil and gas spills, marks left by the police investigation... and blood.
I climb up and down hills to photograph crash sites.
I scoot under cars to see the damage to their frame, tanks, pipes and underbellies

And my camera zooms roadside crosses signed by the loved ones of a dead crash victim. They are usually surrounded by balloons, flower and stuffed animal-decorations.
I never know what my day will bring or where and who it will bring me to. 

On a surface level,
I liken my job to a plumber's.
I am dispatched to help someone out of a jam.
Only my job is a bit cleaner.
I don't turn wrenches.
I throw wrenches into lies.
And unlike a plumber, the only butt cracks involved are those filmed of a cheating spouse.

A P.I.'s day doesn't end when the office closes, because it never closes.
A day of investigating involves a day of notes, or pictures to printed, or scenes to sketched, or witnesses to be called and statements to be gathered.
You work all the time as P.I.
Some people can only be reached, interviewed, or found at night.
Ultimately a P.I.'s work product is a case file delivered to an attorney, so every scribbled note becomes record and evidence that must be gathered, collated,documented and billed.

Being a self-employed P.I. is a 24/7 gig with no vacation, no sick days, benefits, no days paid when there is no work... which can be often.
If you get injured on the job, it's "Oh well, so sorry, no Worker's Comp for you, self-employed P.I."
Beyond that, there is pertually the challenge of getting the work andgetting paid for it.

And because the purpose of the P.I. is to get, gather and deliver information to a client, the  ultimate goal is to ascertain and deliver the truth.
Even if the truth its not in your client's/case's best interests.
Because the truth comes in many shades and hues. Seldom is it as simple and clear as black and white.

I delivered the truth to a client's attorney recently.
His client who said he didn't have any fault... had all the fault.
Including, a red light and three independent witnesses who saw him in the red light when he turned left.
He also had a criminal record and a past history of insurance fraud.
It wasn't good news for the attorney who dropped his case.
Though the attorney told me my fee was "money well-spent"
It was  better now for the attorney to know the truth.... than had he invested further time and money on a no win situation with a client who was quite possibly committing fraud.
                                   A good investigator has a lot of people's backs.
                                   Yet ultimately, we much watch out for our own.

No comments:

Post a Comment