From Terry’s PI Files : The Sleeping Baby

Newborn kids are always a bit of a nightmare for parents of any sort. There’s the crying, the diapers, the feeding, the burping, and on and on and on… it’s a chase to keep up with a tiny little carbon based machine that does nothing that burp, poops and eats.  Sure they’re cute, but the act gets old really fast. It’s no small wonder that a lot of parents, especially the parents involved in busy office jobs, bring in armies of nannies from overseas to help.

Sleeping peacefully and safely...or is he?

Sleeping peacefully and safely…or is he?

Tell me if you heard this one, a single busy mother brings in a nanny from overseas. She’s just finishing her maternity, and is understandably worried that her baby might get abused or hurt by this new stranger living in her home. She still takes a leap of faith, and lets things go on for a few weeks, and surprisingly, everything seems to go well. But soon enough, her suspicions kicks in as her young son is always dead asleep every afternoon when she gets home with no variation at all. Still, everything seems fine, 

That’s where I was brought in. She came to my office, not knowing exactly what she wanted to know. Really, all she needed was some comforting to see that her baby was being treated like gold. So, clock radio camera in hand and a few other choice items, I soon had my client’s home ready and set for an observation.

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

From KJBSecurity.com, a selection of Hidden Cameras Available for the home

Camera one was in the nursery, two in the kitchen and a third in the living room, all the hot spots where you’d expect activity to occur. I would have added another in the bathtub, but privacy issues for the client and the nanny prevented that understandably.

It really didn’t take long. The following day, the camera system recording a day in the life of the busy household. There was feeding, burping, barfing, crying, giggling and more, all as expected in the main feeds from the living room and nursery. But it was the kitchen camera that was unusual. While preparing the afternoon feeding, the nanny had grabbed a droplet and poured something into the milk. It was pretty unusual behavior, and I followed up quickly by showing my client the video.

Did you know that most people only start to develop any sort of resistance to alcohol until their teens? That’s why it takes as little as a thimble full of cognac to knock out a kid. But a baby? Only a few drops of relatively odorless vodka is needed. And guess what had been added to the child’s milk every day for weeks?

Evidence in hand, the client pressed criminal charges immediately. All sorts of hi jinks came about and once the debris had settled, the nanny in question opted to return back to her home country and be banned from returning to get a suspended sentence. 

Any lesson from this? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition? Cameras save lives? There are so many things you can take from it, but all I can say is that I’m relieved that the little boy, now 5 yrs old, seems to have recovered with no ill effects.

Adventures in the Spy Biz: Reflection on the Final Days

Seven years. I’ve been involved in the Spy business for 7 years, and it comes to a relative end in 2 weeks.

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Always watching through the windows when you least expect it

In 7 years, I’ve been involved in at least 4-5 police investigations involving murder, assault or kidnappings. I’ve assisted in a number of child abuse cases, or at least made it possible for the parent to do the work themselves. I’ve helped prevent at least 2 child abductions, and helped family members find out if their son or daughter was into drugs, planning secret parties or being cyber-bullied. As for infidelity or other stuff, I can’t even begin to count the number of cases I’ve either directly or indirectly been involved in.

In the end, as my time here comes to an end (not 100% immediately, I’ll still do the odd case or two or assist with my successor to complete existing contracts that started in my time), I wonder what did I learn?

Well, the first thing is… unless you work for a corporation or contracted to one, it’s not exactly the most glamorous job in the world. For every interesting case involving police work, there are 10 jobs involving husbands or wives cheating. It’s not so much James Bond as it’s the cheekier side of Magnum PI. In my last entry under “Adventures”, there tended to be a lot of times that would involve long hours watching a hotel or sneaking around a place in the middle of the night to plant tracking devices, cameras and the like.

Next, you find out that Hollywood has completely misconstrued everything to be a world where there are tracking devices the size of sugar cubes that work around the world and need absolutely zero power. For example, those wireless portable cameras that Lisbeth uses in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. How the hell did those cameras operate? Battery power on wireless cameras work for a matter of HOURS, not days, not weeks as suggested. If they applied the real rules, then the cameras would have run out of power long ago and her journalist friend would have been murdered. There’s Hollywood, and the laws of physics. I would bet on those laws every day. One special note though, the tools and the gear has improved a lot though, even from when I first started my work.

Finally, there’s always an anterior motive. It doesn’t matter who and what case, there always is one. I won’t comment on the Police ones out of respect to the inspectors who have a hard enough time as it is, but there have been too many cases from other Private Investigators and the public at large to not have seen this. I’ve found that without knowing that motive, a client’s case would linger for weeks, even months. I’ve had cases go for over 5 years because I was directed to look in one direction without knowing the other. Sure they pay well, but you just want to have the closure eventually.

So, as my time comes soon to an end, I wonder, was it worth it? I know that a huge chunk of my soul has been bruised in ways that I can never describe. The look of horror of that woman when she found out how her child was being drugged. The knowledge that no matter what I do, often the client refuses to help themselves and endure unspeakable abuse. The regular disappointments by occasional clients that despite retrieving what they needed, they lack the courage to take it that last step. But in the end, I think yes. Despite what my family and friends who disapproved of the job, in the end, I can honestly say that I was in a position to help far more than most. That’ll be the thought that will follow me.

But if I’m so melancholy of the time I spent as a spy of sorts, how did I manage for so long? People in Calgary know me as a social media person, a regarded foodie and Calgary booster. That description probably fits me well, but little do people know that all of this wasn’t just me being a particularly involved with things, it was my life line. While the infidelity stuff can be funny, more often than not, it was simply tragic. It’s a world where there are legions of broken hearts, misplaced anger and residual damage in the lives any children involved. I needed the social media world, a dynamic arena of minds and spirits the world over to keep me engaged with the brighter parts of life. I needed to be a foodie, not simply because I truly enjoy good food and the passions involved with cooking, but to give me a means to brighten the horizons of others through the simple communion of a shared meal. As for being a Calgary booster, that was easy. For every one case I dealt with, there were 100 Calgarians making the lives of one another a better place. If anything, the people of Calgary bring me hope that there are happy families out there, lovers enjoying the simple joys and artists creating art and music. To this incredible city, thank you, and I promise to continue to serve.

How NOT to Hide from Your Mom in the Morning

Hi all, sorry I haven’t written in the last 2 weeks or so, but I’ve been insanely busy with YYC Burger Week!  It’s a new food event that the fabulous Sabahat Naureen thought up, and enlisted myself and her fiancé Chris, that involved 16 top grade restaurants, all locally owned and operated and dedicated to local food sourcing.  Those 16 had offered a $15 burger platter, of which $1 went to an assigned charity.  We’re still tallying up the money, but it looks like over 5000 burgers were sold, and probably over $6000 was raised for 8 great charities, and we had gotten a TON of press.  The restaurants all reported a boost in business, the charities had gotten more exposure, and the 3 of us had a chance to give back to the Calgary community.  All in all, being our first year, it was a great success!  I’ll write a blog post soon enough about the whole event, so others can see what we did to make their own event.

But in the meantime, back to the blog.  There’s more news about my “kids“, and the reunion is 1 month, 1 week away.  That’ll be the next entry of the “New Frontiers“, and then a new piece on “What To Do When Trust is Gone” based on my adventures in the spy biz.    But before I get back to those tales, here’s a fond embarrassing memory for younger days….

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I was in my 20s, and living at home at the time.  I was dating a gal I met at McGill U, Fahima E., and it was looking pretty serious.  It had been a few years since the wedding from hell and I was comfortable to be dating seriously again.

She had started to spend her nights at my house, and would sleep in the guest room in the basement.  I would usually sleep in my room, but … every so often, we would sneak to each other’s room to sleep together.  And yes, I mean sleep, as we simply liked each other’s company a lot and if you’re making any other assumptions, that’s entirely up to you. 🙂

Of course though, mom and dad, as modern western minded as they are, there were still a few conventions they would follow, or at least liked to have the illusion of following.  One of those is that if there ain’t a ring on each other’s finger, you don’t stay together in the same bedroom.   Yes, it’s a bit prudish in the modern world, but you do have to admit it’s kinda cute as well.

Well, one late night after classes, we both came up fairly late to a dark home.  Everyone was asleep, and Fahima and I went off to bed.  I quietly closed my own bedroom door, making it look like I was asleep in my room, and she and I went to the guest room (as it was a double bed).  We promptly passed out and that was that…. until the morning.

Now I’m normally a bit of a light sleeper in the AM, while Fahima was not.  The vent system in my old Montreal home only made that trait of mine worse, as I usually can hear conversations in other rooms pretty well.  This was no different, as I was slumbering, I suddenly heard my parents up and about and talking about going to some event later in the day.

My first thought… dammit, they’re up and there’s no way for me to get to my room without being seen.  Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem as they would rarely wake me up, and would go about on their business in the morning and leave the house.  But when I heard the words, “event”, my mind instantly calculated 2+2 together and came up with “freakin’ hell”.  You see, my mom has so many dresses and coats and what not, that she often stored a lot of her favorite dresses in either of the two guest room closets or a 3rd closet in the basement.  So what could I do then?  I knew that escape was impossible, as I had only seconds to act. So with escape not an option, my tiny reptile mind went into survival “hide” mode.  I leaped right into one closet, and took my chances.  There was a 33 1/3 % I would be discovered, and started looking to the gods above for salvation (ok, I wasn’t an atheist back then admittedly).

Then, as mom entered the basement and approached the guest room door, I heard her tell my father, “I need my red dress with the flower design.”  Well, I quickly looked around and voila… there it was next to me.  I started to mentally curse the gods for their sense of humour, and heard the door of the guest room door open.

Mom was a little surprised to open the door and found Fahima unconscious in bed, but then said “Oh, excuse me,” and not missing a beat, walked straight to the closet where I was hiding in.  Giving in to the inevitable, I took the dress off the rack, and when the closet doors slid open, there I was, only in my briefs, and quietly presented her with her dress.

Now the look and surprise on her face was priceless admittedly.  She was startled, but I think she had a sense of humour about the event.  She looked at me exactly the same way a mom would look disapprovingly at bad behaviour, while I was beet red, embarrassed, and looked like I had just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar all the while standing in a closet with Fruit of the Loom briefs.  Mom then took the dress, had that odd smirk, and closed the closet door on me.  She walked out, and I just stood there in the cold, dark closet stunned.

It was a lot like this...

It was a lot like this…

Now I don’t know what she may have told my dad at the time, or if she said nothing, but we never spoke of it since.  I had to admire her sense of restraint and discretion.  It was another of those Terryism moments that I’m so prone to in my soap opera life, and as I look back, it was one of those funny memories that I’ll always love about her.  Thanks mom for the giggles.