I have a talent (or a curse) which I turned to my advantage during my crime scene investigation days.  My parents innocently planted and then accidentally cultivated this ability deep into my psyche between my seventh and twelfth birthdays.

          My family moved six times during that five-year period and professional movers have an effective (but insidious) way of insuring no items become lonerganed:  they place a small sticker on your furniture, and a checklist with every sticker's number is annotated during loading and off-loading.  Movers unbox, re-assemble, and remove all packing material—they do not, however, remove those tiny fucking pieces of colored tape. 

          I was the kid on the floor in front of the TV who got tired of seeing a yellow Allied Van Lines and a white North American Van Lines underneath the living room coffee table.  I eventually found the red National Van Lines under the base of my red bicycle frame.  Every spring—the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox—my mom would hide a hundred of those little colored-foil covered chocolate eggs around the house.  My sisters would find half of them and I'd find the other half...along with a few dozen more stickers.  By the end of my Freshman year in High School, I could enter a cluttered room filled with furniture and instantly see the millimeter-wide edge of a green Mayflower Van Lines peeking out from under the rear leg of a my new neighbors house.  After my step father died in the 90's, I found a decrepit set of my grandfather's WWII-era golf clubs in the back of the garage.  The bottom of the canvas bag still had a stack of five, stuck one on top of the other, edges curled, adhesive gone, the only thing keeping them in place for more than 25 years had been disinterest and the fact that the Easter Bunny never hid eggs in the garage.
           Time has morphed my sticker-curse in an Adrian Monk kind of way.  Today, when you show me your new electronic gadget, I'm instantly bothered by the protective film you failed to completely remove from all the cracks and edges or *shudder* intentionally left in place on the screen.  If you like the advert-logos on the face of your computer...don't loan it to me, even if I ask real nice.  I'm retarded when it comes to anything even remotely similar to those little bastards (I get the urge to pick and peel just looking at them up there on the screen).

          During my first housebreaking and larceny investigation, I realized my curse could also be a talent.  In a nutshell:  Sergeant Cooper returned from a two-week Christmas vacation to discover his house ransacked and vandalized.  I collected over 100 fingerprints and a dozen samples of DNA.  Apparently, a large group of zombies trashed the entire house during a nonstop Xmas-to-New-Years party.  No neighbors knew the Cooper's were on vacation; they all thought he threw a big party they weren't invited to.  Not much was stolen; everything of value was damaged to the tune of about 50K.  Interviews with neighborhood teens was a waste of time.

          Two weeks later, Sergeant Cooper's Datsun was stolen (and he realized, at that time, that his spare set of keys must have also been stolen).  Three days later it was recovered, I found no fingerprints, and told him to change his locks.  A week later his car was stolen again.  A few days later it was recovered again (still no prints).  Sorry, I didn't have time to change the locks yet—he said.  I used the office copier to make a sign, which I posted on our internal bulletin board.  The sign...
                                                                                                                           me a gentle ass-chewing from my boss because Sergeant Cooper saw it when he came to the office to provide his detailed statement of loss (and—his sense of humor must have also been stolen, even though I didn't see it on his list).

          Two more days go by...stolen again!  Goddammit Sergeant, what the fuck?  Sorry, I bought one of those club's for the steering wheel, but I might've forgotten to put it on.  After it was recovered for the third time (still no prints) I found a red 'Club' and a red cellophane-wrapped heart-box of candy (with receipt) in the detritus which permanently resided on the floorboards.  Since I'd searched that pile of garbage twice before, the Valentines gift jumped out at my eyes just like a sticker.

           The entire case was wrapped up in a week.  The receipt lead to a gas station video tape.  The cellophane had good fingerprints of the guy in the video.  He lived in the neighborhood, didn't want to pay for the damages he wasn't responsible for, and remembered five other people at the party...who remembered a few more, who remembered a few more, who remembered all the rest.  And all their prints and DNA matched what had been collected.  Almost twenty people.  Came to a little over 2K in damages per vandal.  The only one who got any jail-time was the joyriding guy who forgot his box of candy...and that was only because he was already on probation.

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. — Napoleon Bonaparte


Davecat said...

Now see, I like those wee stickers on laptops saying 'intel CORE inside' or 'Windows 2099' or whatever, as they're like little medals or badges of honour. But then, I'm the sort of person that's got buttons all over my leather jacket and most of my cardigans (in true Eighties fashion), so who's to go by me...

I have to agree with you on the protective film issue, though -- that shit's gotta go. Or those little plastic theft sensors on the insides of DVD cases? You have made your purchase, now pull that out of there and discard it. That shit kills me.

veach st. glines said...

I have no problem with buttons n' badges on one's wardrobe. The military loves decorations and (of course) more flair = better tips.