Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monster Fighters

I hope I am not starting a trend for myself here... however I woke up with yet another quote in my head.

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche has been a big influence on my life for a whole lot of reasons I will spare you now.
Though the dude lived long before any of us.I imagine Nietzsche to be wildly brilliant with tremendous mood swings.
No doubt, very dark at times. No doubt, very daring.
In my mind's eye, I  can see him brooding. I can see him writing.
I can see him observing. 
His insight.... so many moons ago... into the human psyche and what drives us...
has driven me to live what some might describe a very Nietzsche-esque existence.
Though I must confess,  I am not so much a follower.... as a student of Nietzsche.
And last night,  as I was watched my close friend Roger, a fellow P.I. (and Investigation icon) in this area... teach the surveillance part of my class at the University last night,  I imagined him to be Nietzsche.
Even though my friend looks more like Steven Segal and I imagine Nietzsche like a dark bearded version of Mr Rogers...
I could see the similarities in the path Roger has chosen for his life.
Very similar to a life of meaning that would do Nietzsche proud.

As I looked around the classroom last night and watched nearly 30 soon to be P.I's  listening to Roger, studied my students studying the piles of equipment covering the floors, tables, a camera stuck to the wall.... 
I watched them absorb what surveillance is really like... 
and wondered how many will choose surveillance as path of investigation.
Or sub-contract it out, as so many P.I.'s do,
10 hours, hot vehicle... no movement, music, fun and games.
"Gets to be about 120 degrees inside" Roger said to the students. 
"And you can be sure the minute you turn your head, for maybe five seconds, that's when your subject is gone."

"Do you have an air conditioner?" someone asked.
"Yep!" Roger replied, reaching forward to the pile of stuff he and several students hauled from his vehicle to our classroom.
"This little baby right here" he said as he lifted up a small white box and showed it to the students... "Takes ice, or you can even plug it into your car here. And then it brings the temperature down to 110 degrees."

Roger talked about crawling through the mud along the side of the road.
Where to sit, where to position equipment and what lights to cover on your camera.
What is legal and not legal to do. 
He showed the students how many different props and clothes he carries with him. 
His hats, construction vests, camo and rich man gear.
He poured water on his head, rubbed his straight hair to a curly look with his fingers and pulled off his shirt to reveal another, darker shirt underneath.
"See how quickly I become someone else" he said.
I watched the students watching how quickly he changed his looks.

He talked about tinted windows and how to handle police and curious neighbors.
It was packed into three hours that flew by so fast I am still there, in that classroom now.
My last glimpse on exiting, was several students helping Roger  pack and load his gear and carry it back to his car. 
I felt  so badly having to run to.... and through.... that parking garage, leaving them behind....
however, there was but one ferry I could catch and hope to make it home before midnight.

I have to hit the road again shortly.
It just doesn't stop.
Until the work stops.
Then you just want it all to start again.
Such is the life of the self-employed P.I..

So today, is going to be one of those very Nietzche-esque days for me.
While I have one fairly tragic accident to investigate, I also have to look for... or into...  the eyes of few monsters. 
One must be found, one must be watched, one exposed and another hopefully arrested.... and we must do all that without becoming monsters ourselves.

We licensed P.I.'s,... the ones who take our jobs seriously...
we follow the letter of the law to a T. And we dot our I's.
The key is knowing the laws.... local, state and Federal.
And knowing you don't have to become the monster, to contain the monster.
Yet you do have to think like him (or her) to sneak up on him and catch him before he catches little Hansel or Gretel in his trap.

This post is for you...
you, who somehow found your way to this little blog....
and for Roger. 
It's my way of saying thank you Roger, for teaching my students last night what a true P.I is.
We are not TV shows or movies.
We are not graphic novels and mystery books.
We are real, compassionate, odd, bright, talented, multi-layered, multi-tasking, multi-fasceted professionals with amazing insight into the human psyche. 
We can help save your life, business, or  help bring someone bad down.
If if you are deluding yourself, we're likely to be the first to call you on it.
Which is why many of us prefer to keep a low profile, to keep our adversaries at bay.
We can be funny, elusive, invisible, or right in your face confrontational.
You might love us, you might hate us.
We are however, all about the truth.
We must be  flexible, adaptable, inventive, philosophical and ingenious.
Most of all... we must be like Roger. 
We  must walk the talk.
Do our jobs.
And carry on.

Whatever you do today.... may you make it through this day feeling better than when you started it.
That happens when you break out of your comfort zone and look into the eyes of monsters outside yourself. Or the monsters within.
Don't just push the envelope, eliminate the envelope. 
See no barriers there.
Be daring, be bold, attempt what you believe to be the impossible. 
Today... do Neitzsche... and Roger...  and me.... proud.
You'll feel about yourself just for doing something.... courageous.

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