Tuesday, May 31, 2005


9:24 p.m. I just got the best news! The person that Hummer is surveilling out in rural Indiana owns and runs a NUDIST ARTIST'S COLONY!!! Ha ha ha!

How many of you think that I should send Hummer in to infiltrate their ranks?

I am so very tempted...


8:06 a.m. I forgot my bucket this morning and the Diet Mt. Dew and V8 juice are looming large. Curses. I look around for a suitable recepticle but all I have is said Mt. Dew bottle. I just got my truck shampooed out after the unfortunate results of last time this happened.

Hmmm. I consider my options. I could knock on a neighbor's door and ask to use their bathroom. I wonder to myself what I would do if somebody did that to me. I would probably give them a toiletpaper roll and point them to the bushes. The bushes. Not such a bad idea. Except for the indecent exposure thing.

My eyes land on the V8 bottle. Hmmmm. A plan is forming. What if I cut the top off the bottle and made it into a funnel? I could use Mt. Dew bottles to my heart's desire with no fear of spillage.

I am MacGyver.


4:00am. After several days of sleeping in until 6:30am, I am bright-eyed. I still haven't unpacked from my trip home to visit the parents for the holiday and I pick through the dirty clothes trying to find the least offensive tank top and workout pants to wear. I really need to do some laundry.

6:24 a.m. I'm set up in a pretty nice neighborhood just north of Chicago. My Subject today is a 6'6" tall black man. Should be pretty easy to spot him, anyway. I am relieved when I arrive to see that two vehicles are blocking the garage. Good. That means that he won't be entering a vehicle where I can't take video of him.

I scour the area for places to set up outside. Two enormous pine trees in the yard next door would work. And a large hedge that lines the perimeter of the property. Very good. I wonder if I should drive along the next street over to see if I can get a good view of the backyard. If he's not active by 10:00am I will do just that.

Subject's house is in an elbow cul de sac. I park facing away from the residence, turn off my engine, and hop in the back of the truck. I take out one of those silver reflective vehicle interior protectors and place it in my windshield...just a little added insurance against prying eyes. Not that somebody won't call the cops on me, mind you. But at least they will be calling the cops because there is a strange car parked in the neighborhood, not because they see some lady peeing in the back of her truck.

There is no activity so I get out my bag-o-vitamins. I now take a grand total of 20 pills each morning. One multivitamin, two CLA (powerful antioxidant), two omega-3s, grape seed extract, green tea extract, lycopene, alpha lipoic acid, CO-Q-10, six potassium, 2 Prilosec (wonder why I have a bad stomach?), DMAE (good for your skin), and calcium.

Don't look at me that way. I know I have issues. I know you could feed an entire third world country with the amount of money I spend on supplements. I'm just quirky is all.

After my Vitameatavegamin™ breakfast, I am stuffed. I settle in with my guitar and wait.

Friday, May 27, 2005


9:37 p.m. Subject leaves this morning in knit shorts and a tank top. I begin mobile surveillance from my position just south of the residence. I am fairly certain she recognizes my vehicle from previous days and she is driving slowly, cautiously. I stay three cars behind and try to maintain the same pace she drives at. She takes a left hand turn at a stoplight and then slows to watch if I will go by or drive on. I drive on. At this point, she gives me the finger out the driver's side window. :-)

I smile. Good for you, honey. I'd be furious if I thought I was being surveilled. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to find you. I begin a parallel pursuit down a side street and try to pick her up on the other side. No luck. If I was a middle-aged woman wearing casual clothes at 9:30am where would I be going? On surveillance. Okay...if I was not ME. To the grocery store. I have two choices. I can go to the Jewel-Osco or the Pick-n-Save. Judging from the car she drives and her clothes, I decide on the Pick-n-Save.

I drive into the parking lot and within a minute I find her car. Yes! I figure she'll be looking for my vehicle when she gets out, so I need to find a good spot to set up. I decide to park on the far side of a Wendy's...just peak the back end of my truck out the side so I can get video. No sooner do I set up, then she's out, walking back to her vehicle. She's carrying one small grocery bag. I get video of her getting back into her car. Sure enough, she's scanning the parking lot for my truck.

Subject drives out of the lot and heads back home. I decide to take a short-cut in hopes that I'll get there before her and still have time to park a street down and cross over to the bushes with my camera. I park and cross between a couple of yards. I have to jump a 4 foot chain link fence. I am hoping that the resident's don't see me trespassing. Just as I jump into the bushes, she pulls up. Ha ha! I start filming. She's looking up and down the street.

1:20 p.m. I'm in the bushes still. Subject hasn't come back out yet. It's hot.


8:02 a.m. I am back at Cheating Lady's house. This is my last day on this case. She is very unpredictable. First day I was here she didn't go anywhere because it was her birthday and her lover was coming over for an elicit tryst. Second day she left at 7:45a.m. and was gone all day running errands. Today, it's past 8:00a.m and still nothing. No pattern. Doesn't look like she's working, anyway.

I am about to asphyxiate. I spilled a strawberry milkshake on the floor of my truck yesterday and so this morning I doused the stain with carpet cleaner before heading out on surveillance. I am pretty sure the fumes are not good for me and I begin to become concerned when I see what looks like a coyote slipping through the shadows of the woods. I roll down the windows to air out the truck because I suspect I will be in danger of going on an unplanned vision quest if I don't.

Yesterday my Subject (Really Big Guy), spent much of the afternoon in the yard. I don't suspect he'll be receiving disability much longer. He didn't seem to have the least bit of trouble bending and pushing yard equipment around. I got 40 minutes of video on him. I would still like to put the last nail in the coffin by confirming for certain that he's working and where. I guess the client will decide if I pursue this any further.

I am staying out of the bushes for now because I want to be ready if Cheating Lady becomes mobile. Unfortunately, that means that I have to set up surveillance in a very obvious location in order to get any decent video. I am risking it because I really need to get video on this one and if I start rolling surveillance I might miss her leaving or miss some outside activity.

I might get picked up today, folks.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Beware patients in doctors offices and hospitals!

Don't let that PAPER GOWN lull you into a false sense of security...

It appears I have to repost this as a smaller file to make it my profile picture. Sorry. Posted by Hello


9:38 a.m. Well, if you hadn't figured it out yet, things don't quite work out as tidily in real life as they do in the fictional world of books and movies. I waited at the intersection for a half hour and Subject never showed. So, I am back on the house, watching for any signs of activity.

10:02 a.m. Surprise, surprise. The cops pay me a visit. "Hello, officer." I say. He tells me that the lady a few houses down was getting paranoid because I'm sitting outside her house. I think of Minivan Lady. This town stinks. Officer Friendly takes me ID and comes back a minute later apologizing. "I'll leave so I don't draw too much attention to you. "Thanks," I say.

Then I have a thought. "Say," I call to him as he starts to walk away. "Would you or any of your cop buddies be interested in moonlighting for me? I'm looking for another P.I. in the Chicago area." He seems very interested and we exchange cards. Hmmm. I could assemble an army of private investigators and when my company is least expecting it I'll break off and form my own PI firm.

I am starving. I forgot to get provisions before I started my surveillance this morning. I dig around in the back and find a half eaten roast beef sandwich that I got from Arby's yesterday afternoon. I unwrap it and sniff. Still good. I think the salt preserves it. I take a bite.


7:09 a.m. I am back on the case from Tuesday when I got pulled over for reckless driving. I know that my Subject leaves for work at roughly 8:30a.m., so in about 45 minutes I plan to set up near the gas station he stopped at before. If I pick up the tail there, he's very likely not going to notice.

Yesterday I had to do an interview with a Subject under a the pretext of being an insurance company representative. I have the Subject sign a form and give a brief, meaningless interview. Meanwhile, I'm looking around the home for signs that she's working. I'm watching her range of motion as she walks in front of me. This Subject, we'll call her Nikita, is supposed to have back and shoulder issues and I don't notice anything obviously unnatural about her movements.

Nikita is from Russia and has a thick accent. She's about 4'10" tall, blonde, a bit on the heavier side. She keeps saying, "You are so skeeeeeny! What do you do to be so skeeny? Harold! (That's her husband.) Come here and look at how skeeeeeny she is!" I smile. Harold comes in and shakes my hand. They both offer me a plate of pastries and soda. I decline, though those brownies look delish. "Eat!" She says. "You will get sick you are so skeeeeeny!" I smile. "Are you sure you're not Italian?" I ask. She looks puzzled for a second and then laughs. I like her.

We sit down at the kitchen table in their tidy little 1960's bungalow. There are small ceramic pigs all over the place. "Harold, he like the pigs. You see the pigs? He put them everywhere. Over there the biggest." She points to a three foot tall pig statue in the corner of the room. It is standing on two legs and smelling a daisy. Ugh.

Nikita is a kind and has a ready smile. She tells me that she has breast cancer and that she has terrible pain in her knees. She says that she lives with horrible pain everyday. Poor lady. Harold doesn't say much. Everytime I glance at him he's staring at my chest. I wrinkle my nose. Yoo hoo! Up here, buddy. I hold my case file open in front of me. Harold blinks a few times like he just woke up from a trance.

I have Nikita sign the forms and they once again offer me food. I finally relent and take a brownie as I walk out the door. Mmmmm. Good.

8:06 a.m. Okay. I'm heading to the intersection. More later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


12:43 p.m. Hummer calls to let me know he's at his case for the day. I try joking around with him a bit before jumping down his throat. When I finally tell him he needs to call and run it by me when he breaks off early he says in a snotty and condescending tone, "Oh, well I guess it's back to being micro-managed." Deep cleansing breath...Deep cleansing breath... "That's right!" I say. "And you will remain micro-managed until I can trust you're not going to get picked up everytime you go out on a case." Curse words. All of them! "And another thing..." I go on to tell him all of the things he did wrong in his last report. And that it was late. And that I don't care if his last supervisor was a slacker (never mind that his last supervisor, Stinky Jimmy from one of my earlier posts, is now MY boss) because now he's MY investigator and if I don't like his work I'll stop assigning him cases.

I hang up. I can feel the muscles in my neck tense. I lean back against the tree I'm under and wonder to myself what Hummer looks like. I imagine a giant, hairy, whining baby wearing a diaper and shaking a rattle. I smile. No wonder he keeps getting picked up by Subjects...


4:32 a.m. I never was able to re-establish mobile surveillance with my Subject yesterday. The corporate office didn't get back to me in time. However, I'm back on that case this Thursday and I WILL find out where that guy works if I have to sneak into the back of his '89 Ford Taurus and hitch a ride to do it. I am still bitter about Minivan Lady. Never underestimate a grumpy soccer mom.

Today I am back on the case from Monday, May 23. I expect I will be blogging from the bushes again. This time I'll try to avoid the poison ivy, though. (By the way, I would take Chinese Water Torture to poison ivy between the toes any day.)

It turned out that Monday was Subject's birthday. Some man showed up at her door with flowers and balloons in the early afternoon. He parked down the street. Odd. When he knocked on the door she answered with a big hug and a kiss...and not the kind that you give your brother. I know that she's married (to someone else) because I identified her husband as he was leaving for work early that morning. We'll see what happens today.

4:43 a.m. I was up at 3:00 a.m. correcting reports from investigators and sending them in to Ops. While reading reports I found out that Hummer, (my problem child), broke off his surveillance two hours early yesterday without clearing it with me first. This is a huge no-no. I'm certain he "forgot" to call me because he knows I would have told him to stay on his Subject and do his job. He's so skitish from getting picked up on his previous cases that he's being overly cautious and stupid. I can't wait to call him this morning. He thinks he doesn't like me now. Just wait.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I would just like to thank my sister for this >GAME. You owe me a new pair of pants.


8:27 a.m. Subject backs out of his driveway. He drives to the corner and takes a left. I follow. When I get to the corner, there are three cars that pass before can make the turn. By that time he is far ahead and I am afriad I'm going to lose him. I pick up speed and as soon as the road goes from one to two lanes I pull right, pass the minivan in front of me, and then pull back into the left lane. My Subject blows through the yellow light. Ugh! But I'm lucky. He pulls into the gas station across the street. Excellent.

I turn on my camera and prepare to take video of him getting gas. I glance over at the lady in the minivan. She is glaring at me and saying words that would make a sailor blush. I look back innocently. Me? Are you glaring at me? It appears I cut it a little close when I crossed in front of her earlier. Sorry, lady.

8:29 a.m. I am sitting in the parking lot at the gas station waiting for my Subject to finish. A cop car pulls up behind me. I pull forward. He puts on his cherries. Dang.

Cop gets out of his car and walks over to my window. "I got a call from a woman who said that you cut her off just now." That horrible minivan lady! She called the cops on me! Sigh. I grab my ID and hand it to him. I might as well kiss this pursuit goodbye. Luckily, I am behind the building and my Subject doesn't see what's going on.

9:35 a.m. Well, at least I didn't get a ticket. I call my boss and he laughs. Par for the course, he says. I ask him to call corporate and find out what kind of work this guy does so I can canvass the area for his vehicle. I know he's working and now I have to find out where.


7:23 a.m. I just got a call from one of my investigators (the one that keeps getting picked up by the Subjects...we'll call him Hummer). He tailed his Sub to a diner where she is apparently working. He got 2 seconds of video as she left her house without any clear identifying shots. He didn't get any video as she entered her work because the parking lot is "small and obvious" and he thought it was too likely she'd see him.

He went inside to have breakfast and check to see what our Subject was up to. Which is good. But he didn't bring his camera so he could document her activities and confirm her identity. Which is bad. Every private investigator needs a bag or purse or backpack with a well-disguised hole cut into it so you can take video on the sly outside of your vehicle. So, in addition to having no tint on his windows, Hummer has no spy purse. When I told him to go back in there with his camera and get video, he balked, saying he wasn't even sure which waitress was the one he should be taping. "Did you read the nametag?" I ask. Several seconds of silence. "No." Argh. "Okay," I say. "Call the manager and tell him that you are an experienced waiter and would like to know if he's hiring. Regardless of what he says, find a way to ask him a few more questions. Ask what the shifts are like for his wait staff because we want to find out when she's leaving today so that your chicken butt self (okay...I didn't say that last part out loud) can set up in the back lot to get good video of her leaving.

8:27 a.m. Sorry to interrupt that story. My Subject, an extremely large white male, 5'5", 300 lbs, wearing a white dress shirt and tan pants, just became active and it looks like we're going on a mobile pursuit in a few minutes. I'll update soon.

Notice the POISON IVY on my forehead??? I picked the wrong bush yesterday. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005


10:02 a.m. I sneak around the back of Subject's property hoping to find a good tree to climb. When I get back there, though, I discover that the fence abutts a tributary of the Chicago River. I consider jumping in, but quickly dismiss the idea. I'm not so hungry for the money shot that I will jump in a river and stand there with a camera on my shoulder for hours while the leaches have their way with me. Or leeches. How about leaching leeches? Anyway...

10:11 a.m. I am back in my bushes. I would just like to take this opportunity to salute technology which allows me to blog from a thicket in a vacant lot.

I really ticked off a squirrel when I first jumped in here this morning. He was chirping and cussing at me for a good 15 minutes before I threw a rock up at him.

There are three old men on the deck of the house next door. It looks like they're playing cards and eating something. I can hear them murmering. I hope they aren't out too long because I would like to get back to my SUV pretty soon.

10:27 a.m. This lady is really irritating me. She pops her head out the door every once in a while but never long enough for me to get any footage. This is the third time she's done it.

10:45 a.m. Okay. The old men won't leave, so I jump up and walk quickly toward my truck. They don't seem to notice me until I am on the sidewalk again. They wave. I wave back. Hi, neighbors!

I jump in my truck and take off the green cardigan that I was wearing as camo. I check myself for ticks and then kick off my shoes. Compared to the bushes, this is the lap of luxury.


9:38 a.m. I'm in the bushes outside of Subject's home. She was out earlier taking the trash to the curb. Now she's in the backyard and the brush surrounding the perimeter is so thick I can only get glimpses of her on camera.

I am going to see if I can climb a tree so I can get good footage.

Back soon. If I live.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Saturday, May 21, 2005


I would sometimes rather do an investigation in a really bad neighborhood than in a rich area. When you're in the inner city, nobody cares why you're there. Some strange car on the street? Not my business! When you go to wealthy areas, though, people are on the lookout for anything that doesn't belong.

I ran a case earlier this year in downtown Chicago. The guy I was to investigate was on disability for depression. He was a venture capitalist and lived right on the lake by Navy Peir. The mirrored glass and marble high-rise building he lived in housed condominiums that must have cost at least a million each. Nice.

I started humming:
"I'm movin' on up.
To the east side.
To that deluxe apartment in the sky-hi-hi..."

At the time, I was driving a beat up '92 Ford Aerostar. Generally, it was perfect for surveillance. A vehicle more suited to a soccer mom than a P.I. But in this neighborhood, I stood out like a sore thumb. Every car I passed was a high-end luxury vehicle.

5:53 a.m. I drive by the building and note that the lobby is protected by 24-hour security personnel and two key-entry side doors. I watch a bay door open on the side of the building. A Mercedes pulls out and takes a left. Inside the bay door I see a security guard/valet manning the parking structure. And no off street parking for blocks. Great. This is going to be tough.

I end up setting up a surveillance position in the loading zone across the street with a clear view of the front door and lobby. Time to make a plan.

I don't even know what my Subject looks like. The only information I got from the insurance company is that he's a 37-year-old white male. Gee. That narrows it down to 2/3 of the men in the building. If I don't get a visual on him there is no point in my sticking around all day.

I decide to be Susan Johnson, of Omni Flower Delvery Service. I call Subject and tell him there is a delivery for him and will he be around to sign for it? Subject seems delighted and asks me who it is from. "I don't know," I say. "It's anonymous." He seems to accept that, but then asks, "Is it from Florida?" (This is where being a good liar comes in.) "It could be. We get our orders from several different flower shops in Northern Illinois. Those flower shops fill orders for a bunch of online websites that service the entire U.S. By the time it gets to me it is so far removed from the source that I really couldn't tell you were it originated." But he isn't so easily placated. "Don't they track that? They must keep a record of where the orders came from." (When all else fails, play dumb, ignorant, and helpless.) "I don't know. I'm just the delivery girl."

So, we set up a time that afternoon for me to bring him the flowers. I leave and go to the local Home Depot to hang out for a couple of hours. I love that store. I could spend a fortune there. It was the funniest thing walking around. People in designer clothes and sunglasses. Full length fur coats and high-heeled leather boots. Fabulous accessories. It was like some trippy celebrity gathering, only instead of a trendy club or restaurant, it was the Home Depot. I guess even the obscenely rich have home improvement projects.

12:46 p.m. Time to get ready. I go back to my van and hop in the back. I keep my disguises there. I pull on some tan Dickies, a bright blue polo shirt, and a black wind breaker. I gather my hair back into a ponytail and put on a blue ball cap. There we go. Delivery girl at your service.

Oh! Almost forgot. Gotta get the flowers.

I check online and find a flower shop not too far from here. I pick out some daisies and a yellow vase. I fill out the card from "Anonymous" and make sure the envelope and note card are not marked with the flower shop's name and address. Good. I don't want him to have any way of tracing the origin of the package.

I go back into my van to prepare a proof of receipt for him to sign. First I dash off a few bogus names and signitures of people I'd already deliver to that morning. Gotta make it look authentic.

1:25 p.m. I park in the loading zone outside the building. I walk inside to the desk where the doorman is sitting. He looks annoyed with me and I haven't even spoken yet. This is a new record for me because usually it takes at least a minute or two of conversation before I start to annoy people. "I've got a delivery for Subject in #1203." He looks at me suspiciously and asks me to sign a registry. While I'm doing that, he's calling up to Subject's residence. "You can go right up," he says.

I take the elevator up to the 12th floor and walk down the hall toward the residence. I can feel my hands sweating a little bit. When I knock on the door, a young girl about 10-years-old answers. I ask her if Subject is there and she says he's not but will be back soon. Ugh! I thank her and say I'll try again later.

Great. Now what?

I take the elevator back down and am just writing a message for Subject at the front desk when this gorgeous man, curly brown hair, 6'2", 190 lbs, and built like an Andonis, runs out of a stairwell. He is breathing hard. He smiles and asks me if I'm Susan. I am a little bit dazzled. Susan? Who is this "Susan" you speak of? And what sparkly blue eyes you have... But then I remember that I AM Susan. Susan, the flower delivery girl. Darn it!

We chat for a few minutes and he takes his flowers. He seems very pleased with them and wonders out loud who they are from. "Looks like you have a secret admirer," I tell him. Another great big smile and he's gone.

Didn't look very depressed to me. And what would he have to be depressed about, anyway? Rich, gorgeous, living off the backs of the hard-working public...

I walk back to my van and consider. He works out. That's obvious. Do depressed people work out? If they are well enough to workout aren't they well enough to hold down a job? Wonder where his gym is? And even if I DO get footage of him, how am I supposed to visually document depression?

An hour later he calls me on my cell. Normally, I will block my number so that Subjects won't be able to trace calls to me. In his case, he asked for my number because we were having trouble coordinating a delivery time. He asks me about who might have sent the flowers, again. I tell him I don't know but will check with my boss. He asks me out on a date. I politely decline. I can just imagine if I did go out with him. By our third date, I would have to break it to him that my name is not Susan. I would then have to break it to him that I'm not a flower delivery girl. Then I would have to explain that I am a private investigator who was sent to spy on him. "But hey, baby...don't let the fact that our relationship is based on a lie wherein I was attempting to entrap you for insurance fraud affect any possible future we might have together!"

Some P.I.'s would jump on that and use going on a date with a Subject as a means to gather information. I won't cross that line.

More later on this case.

Friday, May 20, 2005


3:32 p.m. Well, I drove around parking lots looking for Subject's vehicle for nearly an hour with not luck. Bummer. It would have been great watching him load a lawn mower into his car.

I just got back home after four hours of driving. I kick off my sandals and immediately head to bed. Nap time.


10:50 a.m. I just had a thought. He broke his lawn mower. Maybe he IS going to go buy a new one. I check in the online yellow pages for Home Depots, Walmarts, Targets...etc.. I make up a list within a 10 mile radius of the residence.

11:03 a.m. I'm going to see if I can find him.


9:13 a.m. I had to start today with a rolling surveillance. This means that I don't take up a stationary position, but do occasional drive bys. I did that because there is no good place to set up around here without being very conspicuous. I was driving by a few minutes ago when I saw Subject out on the front lawn. He was pulling a lawn mower out of the garage.

I continue past his house and turn into a neighbor's driveway. I grab the camera, slide it into my purse with the hole cut in the side, and get out of my vehicle. He's not looking this way. Good. I walk along the sidewalk a bit until I get to a thicket of bushes. I glance his way one last time before I jump in. Good thing these branches aren't prickly. I am rethinking my white tank top and pink workout pants. Not very good camo. But how was I to know I'd be playing Marine today?

Back to Lawn Mower Boy. He has to pull the cord to start the motor about 50 times. Wow. That's about the time I'd get a new one. He finally starts it and is mowing away...except that he has to stop every minute or so because it seems his pants keep falling down past his hips and he keeps having to pull them back up again. Ha ha! This is hilarious. I wonder if I can submit this tape to America's Funniest Videos? Nice rubber ducky boxers.

9:32 a.m. Well, he stopped mowing. Seems it's broken. He's got it upside down and is digging around inside with a screw driver. Just kick it! That's what I'd do.

9:46 a.m. He gives up trying to fix the mower. Subject is walking toward his car. Uh oh. I better get back to my vehicle. I get up, brush myself off and casually head back to the neighbor's driveway. I hop into my truck just as he's taking a left out of the neighborhood.

I begin mobile pursuit.

Subject is driving a late model gold Buick Century sedan. I've already run the plates and confirmed it is registered to him. He holds the stearing wheel with his right hand and has a cigarette in his left. Man, he smokes a lot.

10:02 a.m. Subject parks at the local Starbucks and walks inside. I take a spot across the lot from him where I can get good video. I decide to go inside. I put my camera back in my spy purse and make sure the lens is positioned correctly. I grab the remote and put it in my pocket.

I walk inside and step in line behind Subject. He is facing the other direction, so I try to strike up a conversation. We kinda chat for a while. I begin to think he's not such a bad guy until he tells me that I have a whole bunch of leaves and "sh@#" in my hair. Oh. Gee. Thanks. I step out of line and head back to my truck so I can set up video for when he exits.

10:23 a.m. I watch from two cars back as Subject takes a right hand turn onto a major street. And the light is yellow. I'm going to be stuck here if I don't do something. I turn right into a gas station parking lot that is at the corner. I speed around the perimeter of the station and pick up the tail again. Subject keeps weaving through traffic. I'm getting annoyed at him. Doesn't he realize that somebody is trying to spy on him? I mean, how rude. If I follow everytime he changes lanes he'll pick me up for sure. If I don't, I risk losing him if he turns suddenly or gets so far ahead that I get stuck behind a stoplight. I decide to run a parallel pursuit. I take a right one street over and then a left so that I am along side him only a street down... parallel. Hence the name.

Everything is going well until he makes a left hand turn. I quickly attempt to follow, but get stuck behind a light. No! Lost him.

I spend the next several minutes scouring parking lots and neighborhoods for his vehicle. After that, I return to his residence. If he doesn't come back within an hour I have to break off. That stinks.

Mobile surveillance is the hardest part of this job. In fact, a 50/50 success/failure rate is considered pretty good.

Well, I settle back and prepare to watch a movie on my laptop. And I wait.

Anybody see The Notebook?

Thursday, May 19, 2005


9:29 a.m. I don't think my guy lives here. I've been trying every legal and illegal resource I have to track him down, but there's nothing. I even checked the Social Security Administration Death Index to see if he'd died and we just didn't know it. I checked police reports and incarceration databases... I've traced any possible aliases...

I could find out for sure in two minutes with a quick phone call to the residence, but the client in this case has left strict instructions that no phone or physical contact take place.

And I can't try out my nifty Bible pretext because the client just indicated they don't want a neighborhood canvass done, either.

How frustrating.

Any ideas from the blogosphere?

9:42 a.m. Someone called the cops on me again. Yesterday the police did a driveby, but the cop was smart enough to continue on and not blow my cover.

No such luck today.

This time a cruiser and an unmarked car come up and sandwich me before the uniform got out and confronted me. Sigh. I told him that I called yesterday to inform them I was here and he was like, "Oh, yeah. I figured it was something like that. See ya."

Thanks for blowing my cover, copper. Now that the entire neighborhood knows I'm here, I'm sure the rest of my day will be quite uneventful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


1:00 p.m. Well, so much for the "kid late for school" theory. Nothing has moved at that house for hours.

On the plus side, I was able to pay my bills and surf the web looking through death indexes for some guy whose family is trying to track him down. We call it a "skip trace" in the PI business. A lot of people hire us to find friends, family, old sweethearts... Gotta be careful, though. We don't want to do a skip trace on some woman whose stalker boyfriend is after her. Gotta ask a lot of questions and turn down clients if there is even a hint of doubt about their intentions.

1:50 p.m. I pick up the half gallon of milk that I bought yesterday and accidentally left in the car overnight. Hmmm. I twist off the lid and sniff. Hate to let it go to waste. I take a drink. Eh. Not so bad. Just a little chunky is all. Won't even notice with a candy bar.

4:30 p.m. So, it's taken me two and a half hours to drive home in Chicago traffic. Which hasn't been so bad with the laptop. Some might say it's dangerous to write blog entries while driving, but I say not necessarily. The trick is for the cars around me to be cognizent of my preoccupation. I find that if I swerve into their lane a few times they seem to perk up and pay more attention so I don't have to.

Tomorrow I am going to try a new pretext. I got the idea from one of the investigators at my training. He said he steals bibles from hotel rooms and uses them to get info from Subjects. He pretends to be giving bibles away on behalf of the Gideons. I'll let you know how it goes.


6:56 am. I'm set up in a middle class neighborhood just south of my Subject's house. His front porch lights are on, which is a good sign. No vehicles in the driveway and the garage door is closed. No activity. Time to settle in for the long haul.

I got off to a good start this morning. Four hours of sleep. Nice. I would have slept longer, but one of my investigators was having trouble writing reports last night and I had to play editor. She's a pretty good investigator. Former cop. Just having trouble with the administration stuff.

Another of my guys keeps getting picked up by the Subject. Yesterday it happened for the fourth time in a row. I asked him what he's driving. "...a yellow Hummer or something? What's making you stand out?" He says he drives a non-descript sedan. "Tinted windows?" I ask. "No", he says. Well, there you go. Gotta have tinted windows or you might as well be a fish in an aquarium. I instruct him to get some tint installed and we will re-imburse him. I hope that takes care of it. I ask him if he's been setting up his surveillances in the Subjects' driveways or something. He doesn't think I'm funny.

Close call this morning. I forgot my pee bucket so I had to improvise with an empty Mt. Dew bottle. Later, I accidentally grabbed the wrong one and had JUST brought it up to my lips to take a big swig when I noticed how warm the bottle was... Eek. Don't want to make that mistake again. I decide to chance irritating the neighbors. I crack my door and dump the pee out along the curb. I smile to myself. Just my little contribution.

7:53 a.m. Young black male, 9 years old, wearing baggy shorts, blue t-shirt and a backpack walks east down the street toward Subject's home. He follows the walkway to Subject's front door and enters the house without knocking. Hmmm. Who could that kid be? Looks like he's heading off to school.

7:54 a.m. Kid steps out of the house, drops his backpack outside by the door and re-enters through the front door.

7:57a.m. Kid comes out again. Make up your mind. An old lady in a white housedress and slippers stands at the doorway and appears to be chewing him out. She's wagging her finger at him and shaking her head from side to side. You're in trouble now, kid. You pissed off grandma.

7:55 a.m. Grandma re-enters the house. The kid waits a few minutes and then goes back in again. Is he waiting for a friend? Maybe Subject's son?

8:04 a.m. Grandma walks out the door and peers down the street as if looking for something. The bus? She's got a medium-sized youth t-shirt on a hanger in her right hand. She sends Eddie Haskell away. He walks down the block and pretty quick a bus comes and picks him up.

Now I'm thinking that Subject's son missed the bus. This means that he's going to need a ride to school in just a few minutes. I prep for a mobile pursuit. I lock down my equipment that could be damaged if I make sharp turns. I put any food and beverages away. I get my camera ready on a stationary tri pod. I put the keys in the ignition, but I don't hop up front just quite yet. Too bad the vehicle isn't outside in the drive. That means that unless I get a good look at who's driving, I might be following grandma instead of my Subject.

More to come.


Well. My blog was broke. I don't know if I broke the blog or if I should blame somebody else for breaking the blog. Anyway, I'm wireless and I'm driving right now so this is maybe not the time to talk about it. More to come....

Thursday, May 12, 2005


5:48 pm. Only at a meeting of private investigators would you hear somebody yell across a room, "Hey, Joe! Remember that time I spilled a cup of pee in your car seat?"

Joe. He was my boss before I became a supervisor. Joe is about 65 years old and he can't remember his own name sometimes. On April 3rd, for example, he scheduled me to work a job on March 25th. And then there was the time that he thought he was calling to cuss out Investigator Frank, his employee, but he was actually calling Senior Vice President Frank, the number two guy in the company. SVP Frank probably wouldn't have minded if it wasn't for the three prior cussing outs that he got in the name of Investigator Frank. And then today Joe showed up to the meeting an hour late. Fortunately, the senior management tolerate it well. The CEO had us tape a sign to the door saying that any late investigators were fired.

Of course, there are some advantages to having a senile boss. Whenever he calls and says something like, say, "Polly! What is this travel request to Puerto Rico??" I just answer, "Boss, you approved that over the phone a week ago. Don't you remember?" And he'll sit there for a second and then say, "Oh. Okay then."

So now I'm probably going to work two cases in Puerto Rico sometime within the next month.

Oh, yes. Life is good.

And it better be good because as soon as I die I'm going straight to hell for messing with an old man's mind.

I will miss Joe. And not just because he was easy to take advantage of. I will also miss him because his breath doesn't stink like the inside of a corpse. Which is more than I can say for my new boss. My new boss, Jimmy, looks like a mafia lacky. Tan skin, overweight, heavy accent, perfectly arranged silver hair combed back from his face. Salt of the Earth and a great guy. And I mean that.

But then Jimmy opens his mouth. If Jimmy WERE in the mafia, his name would be "Stinky Jimmy" or "Jimmy the Mouth" or "Please Don't Breath On Me Jimmy Because You're Making Me Throw Up A Little In My Mouth". Something like that.

Through the gaping spaces between his only remaining front tooth, you can practically see the stench curling out in malignant plumes. That first hit immediately makes your eyes water. Within a few minutes you feel dizzy. After a half hour you pass out. Which is okay if you are sitting in meetings for 8 hours. Another advantage (I was delighted to find upon return to my room) is that my hair has developed a lovely curl after being perfumed in rancid death all day.

In this virtually unaltered photograph, you can clearly see the Virgin Mary (with child) etched into the stone. Either that or it is a sea horse. But a sacred sea horse. One worth at least $30k on Ebay. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


8:52 a.m. Meetings don't start until 10am. I am feeling guilty for not having much P.I. in my posts the past couple of days so I am going to tell you a story of a case I had a few weeks back.

I was in the middle of Illinois. I had two cases down there and so I set myself up in a nice B&B for the week. The room was great. I had two floors of an old Victorian house. I bought myself some candles and lavender bubble bath to use in the jacuzzi. Nice.

The first case I go on during this trip is in a tiny, tiny town set smack in the middle of miles of farmland. I will call it Blip. To give you some idea how small Blip is, when I call to inform the local law enforcement of my presence, directory assistance tells me that there is no address listed for police in Blip, only a phone number. Hmmm. I wonder what that could mean? So I call the number and I get some guy's home answering machine. Apparently, local law enforcement operates out of Barney Fife's basement.

Anyway, there is a train track running through Blip and a grainery near the track. Obviously the grainery is the only reason the "town" exists. There are three streets. I groan. It is virtually impossible to stay discreet and undetectable in a small town. Everybody knows everybody else and a stranger stands out like a sore thumb.

I was supposed to begin my surveillance at 6am, but the previous night my tire blew out on the freeway and it took several hours the next day to get all of that straightened out.

3:00pm. Not good to start this late. Ah, well. I set up on a dead end street that faces Subject's back yard. This is another disability case. The guy is supposed to be 100% disabled with lower back problems. I get my camera ready to take my first shot and, to my surprise, he comes around the corner on his lawn mower. I get a ton of film of him. But the cream is when he drives his riding mower up to the garage, hops off (he hops, I swear), pulls down the garage door and runs across the lawn back to his house to escape the sudden rain storm. Oh, good times.

4:30 pm. I knock off early because the rain gets so bad that I can't get any decent footage, anyway.

6:00 am. I set up in the same spot.

9:30 am. A great big lady comes out and asks me who the hell I am. I give her the whole, "I'm conducting an investigation" speech. Which seems to surprise her because she turns white, gets into her minivan and drives off.

11:00 am. Well, I've had an old man giving me dirty looks for a while now. A lady across the street came out to get the mail and was staring. I think she took my plate number. My "disabled" guy is nowhere to be found. I will him to come out before his neighbors take me out to the pasture and make fertilizer out of me. I seriously expect somebody to come up to my window and say, "We don't cotton to your kind around here."

12:00 pm. I begin a rolling surveillance to try to detract attention from myself. Not that it does any good. I drive by the residence every 15 minutes or so. I am coasting down Main Street for the umpteenth time when Barney Fife drives up behind me and puts the cherries on. It's about time you got out of bed.

I pull over and roll down my window. He comes out and tells me that there have been several reports of a stranger in the area and that many residents are concerned. I show him my credentials and he relaxes. I also tell him that I left him a voicemail the day before and he has the grace to blush. "I forgot to check my messages." Yeah. I just bet you did, Barney.

I somehow manage to avoid getting lynched before I wrap up for the day. No more heavy yard work for our Subject. I am pretty sure one of the neighbors tipped him off and he's making himself scarce. But the damage was done the day before. He will likely stop receiving he big fat checks from the insurance company.

5:00 pm. I decide to go to dinner at the only restaurant in town before I depart Blip forever. Don't ask me why I did this. I feel a bit ticked off and beligerant at being hounded all day. I walk in and every single person turns to look at me. Maybe 10 or 15 people are in the bar. All men in baseball caps and flannel button-down shirts.

I feel like a city slicker in my black leather jacket and jeans. I take off my sunglasses and walk up to the bar. The guy behind the counter is (no kidding) drying glasses and watching me. I consider my options. I could just run. Instead, I mosey on over and sit on a stool. I cross my legs. "Um...can I have a cosmopolitan, please? On the rocks. With just a splash of cranberry." He looks at me like I'm crazy. Ha ha. They probably haven't even heard of cranberry juice here. They probably only drink corn syrup and moonshine.

Well, I ended up with chocolate milk and the best chicken noodles soup I've ever had. The people of Blip weren't so bad once you got to know them. In fact, I left an hour later feeling pretty good about the whole thing.


6:23 a.m. I wake up to the sound of the guy in the room next door blow drying his hair. But I can't complain. I fell asleep around 11p.m. Which give me a whopping 7 hours of sleep!

7:11 a.m. Being well-rested but still slightly groggy, I pull on a t-shirt and the workout pants I wore last night before going downstairs for my crappy bagel breakfast. I step into the elevator and look down. Ew. Sticky. I should have worn my shoes.

I take a cinnamon chip bagel this time and sit down with a dixie cup full of chamomile. This is hardly enough tea to wet my throat. I miss my 64oz mug. I am chatting with another supervisor at the table next to me when I realize that there is something pink hanging out of the bottom of my pants. I wonder what that could be? I bend down and pull out the pair of underwear I had on yesterday. The supervisor next to me just stares. "Cool, huh?" I say to him. "I did that without any hands." I get up and go back upstairs. Ha ha ha. Meetings should be fun today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


11:30 a.m. This is a very quick update as I'm just having a break before lunch. I will write more later this afternoon.

Highlights: Plane ride was fine. I was tired. I ended up sitting between two businessmen. I fell asleep and woke up on the shoulder of the guy to my right. Oops! Apologized. Then, I fell asleep again and woke up on the shoulder of the guy to my left. Oops! Better not fall asleep anymore.

After I got in, I went to the main office and met the big wigs. I had dinner with the #3 guy in the company last night. He's usually so straight laced...always a stickler for the rules and in a sour temper. Makes me think of a rat. (Scurry, scurry, scurry..) Anyway, he loosened up during dinner and I actually found him interesting and funny. One amusing/annoying habit of his... He keeps saying "i.e." as in "You should always make your investigators send in their reports before 7pm or you might be up waiting until midnight...i.e., Joe didn't get his reports in until 11pm so I had to stay up until midnight."

After about 30 times, it started to annoy me. i.e., I it got on my nerves.

My hotel room stinks. Literally. Smells like teen spirit. Or at least B.O. I complain to you guys, but I don't plan to do anything about it.

My direct supervisor (whom I imagined would look like Willy Nelson) looks like Boss Hogg. Hee hee. Go figure! Somehow, I like that even better.

Monday, May 09, 2005


4:00 a.m. Let's see... I went to bed at 12:30 this time. Wow. I'm in good shape. 3.5 hours. Well, that's better, anyway. I get up and take a quick shower. Today I am going to Boston on a week-long business trip. I have been promoted to supervisor in our firm and we are having our annual meeting at the corporate headquarters.

I have a lot to do before I go. I've barely started packing. I refuse to check luggage when I fly because it seems everytime I do, something terrible happens. Last time was when I flew into O'Hare on a red-eye. I was sick with what turned out to be Strep, but being as I was on vacation, I couldn't see a doctor. I had it for probably 5 days by the time I flew back home. Anyway, as you can guess, my bags were nowhere to be found. I spent 2 hours in line with other unlucky travelers waiting to fill out a claim. There were three people working that night and about 60 of us without luggage. Amazingly, not ONE of the people behind the counter spoke English as a first language. In fact, they barely even spoke it as a SECOND language. I remember the Indian guy trying to get help from the Spanish lady. Ha ha. I have to admit that was funny despite being feverish and coughing up blood...

5:03 a.m., I am cleaning. I don't know about you guys, but when I get home from a trip there is nothing more depressing then a messy house. I look in the fridge. A tomato. 5 onions. Salsa. 2 dozen eggs. 3 pounds of butter. Mrs. Butterworth. Well, I could make scrambled eggs. If I had time. Which I don't. And why do I have so much butter? Instead, I consume exactly 13 pills designed to keep me healthy in lou of a crappy diet. Breakfast a la The Jetsons.

6:10 a.m., I plan on vaccuming at 7:30. I bet the college guys downstairs will love me for that. I get dressed and look at myself in the mirror. Somehow I scream prostitute this morning. Perhaps the pink capri pants with the hot pink heels is a bit too much. I change into my favorite jeans and flip flops. Ah. Better.

7:30 a.m., Okay, time to wake up the neighbors. I'll write later from Bean Town.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Why This Is A Bad Idea

I would probably forget this CELL PHONE STUN GUN isn't real. I'd think I was calling Mom and instead I'd accidentally wipe out my memory.

Note the friendly reminder at the bottom: Does Not Work as a Cellphone, only a Stungun :-)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Polly Blogs Posted by Hello


8:00 a.m. I drive up to Subject's home and find that his vehicle is no longer parked in front of the residence. Oh, fudge. I am seriously second guessing my decision to set up later today...

There are several more vehicles in the parking lot and I begin running DMV searches on all of them. These searches give a name and an address, which means that I can make "pretext" (PI speak for lying like a politician) calls to neighbors and ask them nosy questions. One of my favorites is to call and act as if I meant to call the Subject but got this number instead. I act all friendly and say I'm an old friend and we'd lost track of each other. Then I'll ask something specific to the case.."I was so sorry to hear he became permanently disabled. Do you know if he's working again? How's that back of his?" And so on.

8:45 a.m. Ha! He's back! No..not he. She. The wife went on an errand. Black female, 5'8", 130 lbs. Medium length straight brown hair. She's carrying a donut box. (Donuts. Yum.) She parks and walks into the residence. Ah well.

9:20 a.m. An old man I saw yesterday is outside. He's watching me very intently. It doesn't help that I have Wisconsin plates on my truck. Rrr. He walks over and knocks on my window. *sigh* Tells me he noticed me here yesterday and then again today. Anything he can help me with? "No", I tell him. "I am conducting an investigation. If you would like to know any more details please feel free to contact the police." Oh. Well. That usually does the trick. Old man looks at me funny. "We've got three murderers in this neighborhood. I hope you catch them. One guy over there killed a woman in his house and tore her legs right off. Nobody ever bothered to tell us he was a sex offender even with all these kids in this neighborhood." Wow. Holy crap. He wishes me good luck and walks back to his car. I'm kinda glad this is my last day on this job.

I get back to the song I am writing. The lyrics, so far, go like this:
A cool night
Candle light
As we danced in my hotel room.

I could see in your eyes
The same surprise
Never felt love like this before

That's all I have so far. Okay, admittedly, all written out that looks really sappy. Maybe I'll make it a good ol' country ballad...

My heart feels like
It's been kicked by a mule
Cuz ya broke my heart
So I'm drinking to drool

I love my momma
But my jeans are too tight
Like the love for you
Fillin my heart tonight

Obviously I have missed my true calling.

11:35 a.m. Subject's wife is cleaning out her car. She just took a laundry basket out of her trunk and is filling it with all sorts of stuff.

11:54 a.m. She just went back inside. Not looking good on catching the Subject. Good thing I get paid anyway. The client will have to buy more surveillance time if they want to get the goods on this guy.

12:00 p.m. I take my last master shot and head back to the expressway. I stop at BK for a Tendercrisp bacon ranch sandwich. Wow. I don't care if it stops my heart and increases my pant size, it's worth it.

2:00 p.m. Finally got home. I never made up my To Do list. Bummer.

On the plus side, I finally figured out what smells. I left some oatmeal on the stove a few days ago. Oops.

An actual authentic representation of the painted over Virgin Mary on the Fullerton Overpass.  Posted by Hello

The VM holding baby Jesus in grass clippings. I'm trying to figure out how to sell this on E-Bay. Posted by Hello


5:13am. Just woke up. Let's see. I went to bed at 2am. So that means...3 hours. *sigh*

I'm hoping to be out of here by 6am. I ran out of food yesterday. Dinner was raw chocolate chip cookie dough, Diet Mt. Dew, and a Kraft Single.

I look around the apartment. It has been ages since I had time for a good cleaning. I should do laundry, but I find it easier to just keep buying new clothes. More satisfying, too. And then someday, when I DO do laundry, I will be pleasantly surprised at all the cute clothes I didn't remember I had.

Today I will make a list of things TO DO. Today I will clean out the truck. Today I will organize my CD's. Today I will buy flowers for the balcony. Really.

Don't give me that look. I mean it.

Okay. Time to get dressed and off to the second day of my stakeout. I'm hoping my Subject will make an appearance. Any suggestions on how I might coax him out of his cave?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Clever disguise Posted by Hello


Okay okay! All of you people that have been badgering me to start a blog documenting my days in the field, here you GO. Beginning May 15, I will have my wireless set up and will provide live updates while on surveillance. For now, I'll just recap my days.

Oh, I will be as honest and truthful as I can without revealing sensitive details about my clients and subjects. Okay, here goes....

4:00am. Dark. Another night with 3 hours of sleep. Why do I do that to myself? One of these days I'll fall asleep at the wheel. Hope it's not today.

I put on the hot water and get my equipment together for the day. I grab a few snacks out of the fridge. And an ice cream bucket. (When you're on stakeout you've gotta go to the bathroom somewhere...)

The dinger goes off on the water and I grab my rediculously enormous mug (64 oz). Fill'er up, add four tea bags, and review cases for the day.

I put on my workout pants and a tank top. Easy to slide off (see bucket) and slippery so I can hop into the front of my truck quickly in case of a mobile pursuit. I have several disguises in the back of the truck in case I need to make a quick change later on.

Today I'm doing a four hour stakeout at a location 95 miles from my home. I need to be there at 6am so I can catch Subject heading to work...if he works. I guess we'll see. I get on the road 20 minutes later.

4:30 am. I stop for gas and cash. Then I head on down toward the Tri-state Tollway. Chicago traffic is generally terrible, but this time of the morning isn't so bad. An hour and a half later I realize that the exit I need to take is blocked off due to construction. Ugh. So I get off the expressway as soon as I can and stop at a gas station to look at a map. Twenty minutes later I'm in front of Subject's residence. A brick, three story apartment building in a middle-income neighborhood. Pretty good area, actually. Not like the neighborhood a few weeks ago when I had a guy with a tire iron circling my truck trying to decide which window to break. He couldn't see me inside because my windows are tinted black. I watched him for a few minute before hopping in the front and driving off. I laughed as I glanced back in my rearview mirror. He was holding up the tire iron, watching after me with a blank look on his face. Ha ha, sucker!

I should get a taser.

6:00 am. Anyway, I took a master shot with my video camera first thing. Then I did a DMV search for any vehicles that might belong to my Subject. Ah ha! I found one. And it's parked right up in front of the building. I park and walk to the entrance. I go in the first set of doors and find the call buttons and mail slots that correspond with Subject's name. Good. He does live here. I try the second set of doors. No go. Secured.

I get back in my truck and decide to park it across the street in the parking lot of another building. Gives me a good view of the front door and his car. Excellent.

And I wait.

7:00. I pull out my travel guitar and practice a couple of new songs, always keeping an eye on the door.

9am. I call 411 to get his phone number. They patch me straight through. This is good because I don't want him using caller ID to get my number.

A female answers. I ask for Subject. He gets on the line. Hmmm. Accent sounds like he might be African American. I tell him that I am Susan from Omni Delivery Service and that I have a package for him. He needs to sign for it so could he please tell me when he'll be home today? He tells me he doesn't plan on leaving so any time is good. Bummer. Then he asks me what the package is. I say that I just coordinate the deliveries so I couldn't say.

Okay. I established his presence and also got an idea of his schedule for the day. Two more hours.

I really hate these early morning 4 hour cases. If you don't get them out of the house early you usually just sit there.

The door starts to open and I scramble to get my camera ready. Nope. Old man with a cane. He stops part-way along the walkway as another man exits. They chat. After about 15 minutes of that, the old man gets into an Oldsmobile sedan and drives away. Hmm. The old man's vehicle and the Subject's vehicle are the only two parked out front. Must be the designated handicapped area, though it is not marked. My guy is supposed to be disabled.

10:00 am. I terminate for the day. I'll be back tomorrow a little later in the morning. I take a last master shot and then get out of my truck. I walk over to his vehicle, making sure nobody is watching. I use a white piece of chalk to mark his left front and back tires. That way I can tell tomorrow if his vehicle had moved. Usually, I would come back later this afternoon to see if he'd gone anywhere, but this case is too far from home.

Time to go home. Write my report. Nap. YES.