The allure of the profession and the reality of the job

I love this article. Doesn’t everyone have a “glamorous” idea of the profession.  This article is from United Kingdom

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I SPY: Kelly Rose Bradford tries out her detective tricks

 

By Kelly Rose Bradford

Thursday March 19,2009

SLEUTHING, detecting and finding things out have been among my passions since I was a child.

I had a voracious appetite for Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and Five Find-Outers.Even now I harbour a desire to be a PI so when I met private investigator Jorge Salgado-Reyes I spent a day with him to see if I could cut the mustard.

Jorge is an impressive, albeit slightly sinister, figure in head to toe black and a dark flowing coat. He looks part bouncer, part paparazzi snapper.

We head across town to pick up papers from a solicitor for an order we will serve that afternoon.

I wondered if this would involve a high-speed car chase, possibly some gun-toting and maybe even a shoot-out but as we drove into deepest suburbia to the solicitor’s office I guessed not. “It’s not all glamour,” I am told sharply.

I realise my outfit of high heels, trench coat and trilby are going to be wasted on Jorge. He doesn’t seem to need a glamorous PI assistant.

The wedge of documents collected, we head back to Jorge’s office where I will be trained in the rudiments of online tracing. This, I decided, could be interesting.

Jorge shows me a couple of databases he uses for tracking down missing people, they could be debtors, errant spouses or those being sought by concerned friends or relatives.

Once he has an address he pays a visit. “When you get there look for the curtain twitcher,” he says. “They are your key contact. You get all the info and they satisfy their desire for a gossip.”

So far PI-ing sounded very sensible and far removed from my Enid Blyton books. “Disguises?” I asked. “Surely you must sometimes dress up?”

       

“I need to blend in,” he says, “I need to be ordinary. Although I did once dress up as a courier.” Ah! That was more like it. I pressed for more details.

“I borrowed a uniform, stuffed a box full of newspapers and turned up on the doorstep of the person I was tracking down. They confirmed their name thinking the parcel was for them, then I served them the court papers.”

And what about the gadgets, the gizmos? The proper, old-school PI kit?

“These might interest you,” said Jorge, handing me a pair of sunglasses. Of course, they were not any old sunglasses, they were real spy glasses.

A seemingly innocuous pair of specs with a video camera hidden in the frame.

“And this,” said Jorge, handing me what looked like a regular pen but which actually concealed a video camera. “There is a limit to what gadgets can do, though,” he warned. “It’s not like James Bond, despite what people think.”

With that stark warning ringing in my ears we left the office for Kent to deliver a court order – “process serving” to give it its proper name.

We drove out to the countryside and down a series of lanes looking for the address.

Eventually I spotted it – a huge pair of electronic gates atop a mile-long driveway. We were let in and the gates closed silently behind us. I was scared and excited. I had no idea who or what we would find at the end of the drive.

Jorge told me he has never been attacked or threatened while on a job. I was slightly reassured but nervous of the fact we were effectively trapped between the house and the electronic gates.

“Always have the car facing your exit,” he told me as we approached an imposing mansion with tennis courts and acres of lawn. He grabbed the papers and, leaving the door open and engine running, knocked on the door.

I made rapid plans to ditch the heels and jump in the driver’s seat if things began to look hairy, fully intending to drive the car at speed into the electronic gates and make my getaway.

However, the papers were served without any hassle bar a bit of arm waving and bemused body language from the recipient.

As we drove back to the office I asked Jorge what makes a good PI. “Lack of ego,” he says. “The ability to fit in, good business sense and,” he adds, “women are probably better at it than men.”

I immediately perk up. “So do you reckon I’d make it as a PI?”

“Well, you’re confident and people would want to talk to you,” he says. “But you’d need to get rid of the high heels.”

I guess every job has its downsides. The trench coat and trilby could stay though and I’d definitely need a pair of those spy sunglasses.

Jorge Salgado-Reyes runs Allied Detectives, allieddetectives.co.uk

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