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.