It never fails, you enter a room filled with interesting people and one person tells another that you’re a PI. Immediately, the room begins to buzz with curiosity. As time progresses, the guests begin to ask you to tell them stories from your obviously exciting life. You know that your integrity won’t let you name the names or give away identifying information. Still, there’s a desire to share something. Rarely would you. However, today you’ve been asked to tell the funniest story you remember, the scariest moment you had, and if being a PI is ever dangerous. And today, you’re going to share just a few…
It’s important to remember that as mysterious and stealthy as some PI’s can be, we’re all human. We all make mistakes at times. Sometimes some of us do really dumb things. There are some of us that learn from the folly of others. There are others that do something equally dumb or dumber. As I’ve stated many times, PI’s are not created equal. Just like lawyers, doctors, mechanics, or family members, we may all be in the same game but that doesn’t mean we’re all playing with a full deck.
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It’s hard to believe that anything funny ever happens as a PI. Depending on your sense of humor, comedy can be found. For some, comedy might be found in watching someone rob an ATM and then walk across the street to a coffee shop filled with police officers to order donuts and use the restroom. For others, it might be found watching a PI racing to a washroom because he didn’t realize that warming a few pounds of chicken wings in their car during a brutally cold surveillance wasn’t the best idea. Still for some, it could be the thug that robbed an ATM in a bank and then ran out of the bank and tried to buy weed from the undercover PI standing outside.
There are “funny” moments that happen to PI’s all the time. Why? Simple. Imagine all of the dumb little things that you do or happen in a day that you say to yourself “That was embarrassing! I’m glad nobody saw that”. Now realize that a PI was there unbeknownst to you or the subject… And it’s likely been caught on video.
I once worked with a male PI that was built like a tank. Huge muscles and physically fit, a true tough guy in every respect. Some might have found it funny that he once submitted video evidence of a crime which was preceded by 45 minutes of kittens playing on a log. He saw it on the job and it was too cute not to film! But enough about funny moments. What about the scariest moment?
When you work as a PI, you often do very similar work to Police Officers but you don’t carry a badge. No real PI is legally permitted to carry any form of a badge in Canada. You also rarely have anyone to back you up if things go wrong. This can involve being undercover in some very scary places with some very scary people. Most PI’s don’t like to admit that they’ve been afraid on duty. I can tell you that very few PI’s that have been exposed to the more serious aspects of this business haven’t at some point feared for their lives or questioned their own sanity for doing the job they do.
I don’t discuss my scariest moments. Few of us do. But I will tell you that there are times when an investigator enters an assignment that they believe will be safe and it it turns out…it’s not. Maybe someone shoots at them or pulls a knife on them or figures out they are undercover. All of those moments can be terrifying. Imagine someone saying they need you to serve divorce papers on their ex and when you get there you learn that you’re serving the Sergeant of Arms for a major Biker gang. Or being asked to follow someone’s child and learning that your subject works in organized crime. These are all scary realities. Rare but they do happen.
Okay, but is your job ever truly dangerous?
In my lifetime, I’ve had a criminal subject stalk me. I’ve sat undercover in a room among criminals and listened while others planned heinous crimes. I’ve been threatened a number of times, and once someone blew up my car (with me in it). Other PI’s that I know well have been attacked with hammers, bricks, guns, and knives. I’ve helped a number of PI’s recover from various assaults. In almost every one of those situations, the only thing that kept an investigator alive was their ability to think quickly, communicate logically and maintain a level head despite chaos unfolding around them.
So, yes. There are moments in this job that can be very dangerous. But again, a properly trained PI with excellent problem-solving skills can live a relatively boring life – and that (for the most part) is the goal.