Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Moment Before the Moment

People have this misconception that the life of a criminal defense investigator is exciting and glamorous. That's because they don't realize that the work often involves approaching people about very sensitive and uncomfortable subjects. For me, the most stressful part of a sensitive interview is not the moment that I approach the person, but it's the moment before the moment. If you are an investigator, you know what I mean.

Once I have parked in front of the witness' home and gotten out of the car, I can busy my mind with looking at their ramshackle house and lopsided window screens. After I have knocked or rang their bell, there's no escaping that moment of waiting there on the doorstep, not knowing whether to dread or be satisfied with what is about to transpire. Who will answer the door? How will they react to me? Will I be able to explain the importance and necessity of my visit? Will they give me a chance? Will they have been waiting for my visit all along, and be relieved to be able to tell someone that they don't think your client did it? I really dislike that moment.

If the witness is not home, I go through that moment for a longer time and walk back to my car, realizing I will have to come back to their house and endure that moment all over again at a later date. If the witness is home, I click into auto pilot once they answer the door: "My name is Anita Witness. I'm a private investigator, a criminal defense investigator [yes, I do say both] and I work for the attorney of the man charged with blah blah blah. Whether the witness proceeds to willingly talk with me, or give me grief and make me earn my way inside, at least the moment before the moment is over. For now. Until the next interview attempt that is.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I work in a Public Defender's Office and I give the investigators that I work with a ton of credit because you guys are in very uncomfy and sometimes, dangerous situations!