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Glamorous PI Work

I can’t begin to tell you, when I share with someone I used to be a private investigator, the questions and comments I receive.
Most folks harken back to some Hollywood image they liked, like Thomas Magnum, or Dan Tanna or Stu Bailey (for you old-timers, like me).
But, TV never showed the other side of being a PI.  After all, they only had 22 or 44 minutes to solve the case!  They never showed the repetitiveness, the tedium, the boring stuff, the record searches (pre-Internet), the worn shoe leather.
Or the sleaze. 
When I was with Thin Man & Associates, one of our clients was a “tavern owner”.  And he requested occasional “bar checks”.
A bar check was sort of like a secret shopper service, but in a bar.  Visit the bar as a customer at different hours.  Check to see if it’s clean, is the staff polite?  Do they over-pour or under-pour drinks?  If you request a specific brand, do they secretly substitute the cheap stuff?  Is the correct change returned?
Is illegal activity happening in the bar, the restrooms, or the parking lot?  Gambling, drug use, prostitution?
Just as with being a security guard, the rule was observe and report.  Take no action.
Of course, this guy couldn’t own bars in North Scottsdale, not for us.
A couple times, I was assigned to his bar at Sixteenth Street, South of Thomas – The Salty Dog.  (I think it’s a parking lot for a strip mall, now).
Mid-afternoon, during the week.  Dullsville.  Three or four other customers, everyone bored, staring at their drinks.  The stripper was, uh, past her prime, especially with the stretch marks which made it appear she was melting into her G-string.
I really didn’t like it there, and even though I didn’t notice any obvious criminal stuff, the place just smelled old and dirty.  I was glad my Canadian Club and water had alcohol in it.
Off to the restrooms.  Yes, both.  A quick sweep of the women’s room wasn’t too bad.  Not occupied, not obviously unclean.  No evidence in plain view.  I didn’t dare nose around any further – ‘oops, wrong room’.
The men’s was another issue entirely.  Not filthy, but not very clean, either.  At least here I could do deeper reconnaissance.  One stall, standard-issue graffiti.  Taped to the underside of the toilet tank lid was a ‘spike’ for a heroin user.  A needle set-up.  No drugs present.  Not wanting to leave or destroy evidence, I didn’t touch it, and left it in place.  It did look as if it had been there awhile.  I was careful to smear any prints I might leave.  Hell, mine were on file, too.
Back to the ‘showroom’.  Customers had changed shifts, but were essentially the same drunks at the same tables.  Same bored, melting dancer.  Don’t get me wrong, I like nudity as much as the next guy, but I like it coupled with enthusiasm and beauty!
No dice games behind the bar, no cards in the back room, no sex acts in the parking lot…bo-ring!
Later I met Ron back at the office.  He’d been at the client’s other bar.  It’s still operating, so I won’t name it.
Same stuff, different bar.  He did think the two dancers weren’t too bad looking, and found no heroin kit.  I think I got the wrong end of the stick.
But, I wasn’t anxious to return.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (Golf Rule 16), follow -up Dos

No report today.  The graft (the pigskin) tore Friday last, so I had to go in and and have it replaced.  The doc did say things were progressing nicely, but, as I was scheduled for Tuesday, reschedule for Friday, so it will be one week after he’s seen me.
More after Friday’s visit.

U.S. Government Suspends Mint Gold Sales

The Cliffs of Insanity (link) reports today, that the United States government has suspended all further sales of U.S. numismatic coin offerings.
In short, one may no longer buy U.S. gold coins from the U.S. Mint.
Gee, I wonder why they don’t want people stocking up on gold?
‘Prior to the suspension, products were priced based on an average gold price in the $1,750 to $1,799.99 range.’

(Not that I could afford any when gold was $35.00 an ounce!)

h/t Alvie D. Zane

The Real Thin Man

You’ve read about some of my exploits when I worked for Thin Man & Associates.  My boss, the REAL Thin Man, was Stew.
Stew was an interesting guy.  He and his buddy Ron (about whom I’ve also written) moved from New Mexico to Arizona in the late 60’s to set up shop with a PI/Security business.
There was no State licensing, then, and virtually anyone could hang a shingle and set up shop.  They did both have qualifications, fortunately.
Stew was slightly under average height, slender, had an occasional stutter, and was a reader of people.  He determined I, for example, liked shaking hands, so anytime I’d see him, he’d always offer a handshake.  (Of course, that’s how I was raised.)
In the manner of the time, he listed his name as T. Stewart ****, mimicking J. Edgar Hoover, as E. Howard Hunt and J. Gordon Liddy had before him.  It appeared law-enforcement-y.
The story was he was in fierce competition in New Mexico with another PI whose name was The Fat Man.  I’m not kidding.
I don’t know who was in business first.
They say PI work is not dangerous, it’s not like on TV.  Stew followed some guy into a bar, ordered a drink to fit in, and was slipped a Mickey!  Had he not figured out why he was getting woozy and forced himself to throw-up, who knows what might have happened?
He carried a .25 ACP Colt Junior.  And had a hand-written CCW permission slip from the then Arizona Secretary of State!  I don’t know if he ever needed to use it, but as there was no CCW law at the time, just the little signed card was impressive.
He eventually moved on to other pursuits, becoming a psychologist, I believe.
He’ll always be the real Thin Man to me.

Weapon Retention

Up until about 30 years ago, weapon retention was not a big subject in civilian police training.
Then, weapon retention was mostly about brute force, not thinking smart.
This meme probably quadruples with regard to non-police civilians, especially with regard to Open Carry.  With many more States now authorizing ordinary citizens to carry concealed and even openly, certainly this is to become an issue.
If you don’t have a military or police background, have you even thought if you were open-carrying how you’d react and respond to someone trying to relieve you of your sidearm?
I only had one experience with this:  I was working private security at that urgent care facility – graveyard shift.
Some patient was brought in by ambulance transport, with his friend.  The friend was drunk. .  Busy night, tight quarters, multiple persons.  Other patients already upstairs.
We all took the elevator upstairs to the triage area, patient on a gurney.  Upon exiting the elevator, I was directing the EMTs where to turn when I felt a pronounced tug on my Sam Browne belt, at the holster!
I was using a black leather Safariland Velcro pant belt/duty belt arrangement, with a Safariland thumb-snap revolver holster.  High ride design.  The top edge of the .357 stocks were at my elbow.  Reflexively, I bent my arm, trapping the hand in place, and spun on one foot away from the hand’s owner.
The guy yelled (guess I almost broke his wrist) and released the gun.
I didn’t see weapons in his or anyone else’s hands, and it was tight quarters with lots of people, so, I didn’t break leather.
I really wanted to shoot the bastard!  By now, he was looking at me, holding his wrist and whimpering.
And he said, “I just wanted to see it!”
By now the nurse and medical assistant were dealing with the patient.  I asked the staff if he should remain, or should I escort him elsewhere.  They gave him a once-over and said if he sat down and was quiet, it was okay for him to stay.
I waited another few minutes, then went back to my station.
I’d had no weapon-retention training.  Some karate basics with some trapping/sticky hands work.  That, and the high-ride holster saved the day.

Do some reading.  Get some training.  Even some familiarity with a few moves is better than looking down the barrel of your own gun.
I’ve a blue gun, just for that reason.  Do you?


And I ask, whose paranoid are you? (link) posted specifics on the 19th anniversary of Ruby Ridge.
“On August 21st, 1992, US Marshals shot and murdered a dog and a 14-year old boy named Sammy Weaver. In self-defense, a family friend, Kevin Harris, who was staying with the Weavers, fired in response and killed one of the Marshals at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Over twelve days, Randy Weaver, Sammy’s Father, was shot in the back while entering the shack, next to their home, to visit his murdered sons body and severely wounded by FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi. The next round fired by this murderer blew Vicki Weavers (Sammy’s Mother) head off while she cradled her 10-month baby girl Elisheba in her arms. The round continued on striking and wounding Kevin Harris in the chest.”

All this because the ATF thugs coerced Randy Weaver into transferring them a less-than-legal length shotgun.  1/2″ inch short (alleged).
At the time, someone said, “Isn’t this a TAX matter?”

For more on this federal fun, please read the link. 

h/t Whose Paranoid

No Aussie Bill of Rights?

Days of Our Trailers (link) has a story this morning from Down Under.
A shooting in Australia leads authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals w/ legal licenses and registrations but no criminal acts:…’There is no 2nd or 4th Amendments in Australia’….
Funny how things work that way.

Please Go…READ…Be Sickened.

h/t Thirdpower

Cross-Cultural Education

I used to hang with a guy for years.  He was one of my closest friends.  We’ve grown apart, something I take 50% of the responsibility for.  I don’t see him, anymore.
I’ll call him Harry (not his name).
Harry was divorced, between relationships, and on vacation.  He was visiting one of our State’s greatest treasures, The Grand Canyon.  Just magnificent!
While there, he saw a small group of Japanese tourists.  They spoke excellent English, and befriended the lone Harry.  (How many U.S. visitors to Japan would speak Japanese?)
Now, Harry is quite proud of his Country.  He’s also a graduate of Orange Gunsite.  Eventually, the conversation evolved to America’s love of the firearm.  And the Japanese were rapt in attention.
Weapons are seriously restricted in Japan.  Harry asked if, in their travels, they might be stopping in Phoenix.
They were, the very next day!
Harry asked them to be his guests at a local indoor shooting range!  They were thrilled.
The next day they met at the appointed time, and received basic handling and safety instruction from Harry.  And eventually shot some of Harry’s guns, and rented some others to shoot, as well.
Like kids in a candy store.
Harry had had an apartment, a small studio with attached kitchen, not far away.  He’d planned dinner for his guests, and invited them.  Again they accepted from their gracious host.
Ultimately, there was dinner, drinks and conversation at Harry’s small place.
His guests began to ask Harry about his job.  Harry’s always been blue collar, and proud of his accomplishments there, as well.
When they found Harry wasn’t management, the Japanese folk became distant.  Shortly thereafter, they left.
It seemed some of them were executives in Japan, and lived in apartments smaller than Harry’s!
He had shown them even an underling can succeed in the United States.  And own firearms.
I’m still quite proud of Harry for his effort at cross-cultural education.
Too bad his guests weren’t as open minded.
(I’d make a comparison here about the distance between Harry and I, and the Japanese guests and their host.  Comparing the differences to the Grand Canyon.  But, I can’t write as well as Brigid!)

h/t Harry

Customers – in real life

One of the good folks I worked with at TMCCC was Pam.  Pam was quick, bright, cynical and a little caustic.  But, always truthful and did (and as far as I know continues to do) a fine job.
One of the aspects of our jobs in credit card fraud investigation was something Jay Leno always announces with trepidation on The Tonight Show Dealing With The Public!
And so it was with us.  Telephone calls from fraud victims you imagine are the ‘models’ for those People of Walmart web sites.
So, one day I’m walking back from the community printer when I see Pam grinning and laughing, having a tough time keeping it in.  She was not normally one to laugh aloud openly, like that.
I had to stop and ask,”What’s up?”
She recounted the tale of her last telephone call.  The customer was concerned about all the recent natural disasters, especially “the big salami that came out of the ocean!”
(ahem – tsunami )
And these folks had credit.  Yikes!

h/t Pam


When I was working for Thin Man & Associates, at one point there was actually enough work to hire and train more investigators beside Ron, Stew and me.  (And Stew was the boss/owner).
Stew had hired an investigations manager (a chunky guy who owned an Audi Fox), and he started dolling out assignments like candy.
And, he put me on a double-team surveillance, with a new hire.  Rhonda.  I’d only worked with male investigators, before.  This was a whole new deal.
Rhonda was a police science student at Phoenix College, and was scheduled to start at the academy in a few weeks.  She wasn’t a supermodel, but she was kinda cute, liked guns and investigation, and I was in my early 20’s.  In short, she wasn’t a problem for me.  Pretty much any girl wasn’t a problem for me.  But, this was business.
Largely for training purposes, Rhonda and I went in one car.  Ron and another new guy in his.  And we staked-out some guy’s house, for some long-unremembered reason.
Perhaps two hours in, here comes the PD!  Right behind my car.  And the officer does a vehicle approach on us.  I thought about grabbing Rhonda and kissing her – as a cover, of course – but, I chickened out.  All these years later, I do remember thinking about it.  What a maroon!
So the officer asks is what were doing there, and I’m straight with him.  He glances over at the other surveillance car with Ron, and asks about him, too.  He then checks Rhonda and my PI IDs, then doesn’t go to Ron’s car.
He goes directly to the house we were surveilling!  And he meets a woman there, in the front yard, and speaks to her, and points to our vehicles!
So, Ron and I look at each other, and we start the cars and leave.  I hope this cop gets his surveillance burned one day!  A$$^@(* !
We returned to the office and did our reports.  And, I went home, alone.
I shoulda kissed Rhonda.

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…