Investigating: The Blonde and the Thin Blue Line
I was coming out of an abusive marriage. Actually, I was all the way out, but the strings of abuse still tugged at my in-need-of-repair psyche. “Oh, a change is gonna do me good.” That lyric from an Elton John song played over and over in my mind. Change was the key, and I began the process.
I had my long dark hair cut. I became a blonde with a short and naturally curly bob that suited my small face. I felt free to do drastic things. The shackles were gone. Next I applied for a new job in a different field. I had been a social worker, and now I was applying to be a Fraud Investigator with a large firm. Go figure; they hired me.
I learned quickly that I was not only the first female Investigator they had hired at the time, but I was surrounded by guys who had been cops or adult probation officers. They were big, sturdy-looking, and muscular. These guys just oozed the appearance of don’t f**k with me. I knew I had to prove myself. The guys saw me as some ornament and made sexual innuendos which I played passed. I was not about to be anybody’s ornament ever again. I went into training, started investigating, and within a year I was beating their stats for finding fraud.
In my fourth year there, I was chosen to head a special investigation of a mega-corporation. I won’t go into specifics here. Just let me say that I was good at finding threads that spidered into hundreds of leads. I had a partner, one of the guys, but I was the lead and ran with it. He mostly went along with whatever I suggested and part of me suspected that he wanted me to fail. After all, I was a woman. Aside from the mountains of paperwork involved, he did little to aid in the investigation. He was one of them, a former cop.
There were times when the firm sent out emails saying there would be a beer fest at a high-end restaurant/lounge for all Investigators. After grueling hours on the road, it was usually a good way to unwind with shared stories and not a little bit of exaggeration. So one evening after being in the field investigating all day, I went to the Ugly Ram and joined the guys. Wine was and is my drink of choice, but pitchers of beer had been bought when I arrived, and ‘my money was no good,’ they said.
It was a blast! We swapped stories, and one of the guys told us about a goat at a farm where he had been investigating. Seems the goat had fallen in love with his leg. He couldn’t shake it off till the farmer rescued him and was subsequently charged with fraud anyway. It went on like that and after looking at my watch, I decided I needed to get home. Long day ahead of me. My boss was there and offered to walk me to my car. I tried to assure him that I was fine to drive home, and then I gave into his insistence.
We got to my car in the dark parking lot, and click, click, I unlocked the doors. Without hesitation he got in the passenger side. “Hey, I’m good to drive, really,” I smiled, as I got into the car. In a split second, he lifted me over the gears, put me on his lap and began groping. His cop-strength was peaking, and copping was what he was doing. I disarmed him with laughter and told him I really had to get home.
Other than laughing in those preceding hours, I couldn’t think of one signal I had given that would have warranted this accosting. “Okay, Babe, okay,” he said sourly and lifted me again, putting me back in the driver’s seat. I hated him from that day forward and kept my distance. Looking at him made my stomach churn and twist. I never went back to the Ugly Ram with the guys. But I had that special investigation and needed to focus. I could have turned him in for sexual harassment, but I didn’t. A part of me knew it would be useless against the Thin Blue Line that stained them inside their jock straps.
My investigation into the mega-corporation was gaining strong momentum. I had found a thread that could have brought the entire house down. Working late one evening and alone in the office, I placed a call to the head of the Special Investigations Unit who was at the other end of the state. I told him what I had found and he was ecstatic! This was the first investigation for this unit and I had nailed it. I went home and couldn’t sleep that night. I was riding a high.
The next morning I was called into the local HQ office. At the conference table were the head of the local HQ and my boss, the groper. “How dare you call the head of the Unit? Who do you think you are?” They went at me like that for thirty minutes. In my head I vowed not to cry. They were relentless. Kudos for me had come from the head of the Unit to them. Of course, that would not be tolerated. I had no Thin Blue Line. But the truth was that I had hit a nerve because what I had found in fraud lead all the way to a Congressman. “Back off and back off now!” That was what they said. The air left my lungs with the punch of their words. Within months, I left and slammed the door tight. It had all been so futile. The head of the Special Investigative Unit retired early in disgust.
Now, some years later, this same mega-corporation I had investigated is frequently in the news for doing exactly what I found. Oh yeah, the papers are all over it, several billion dollars later. But I was never part of that Thin Blue Line. Bastards they were, all of them. Not all cops are like that, at least I hope. When I watch these cop shows now with lead female investigators, I think to myself, “Yeah, right. Sure.”
Tags: abusive marriage, adult probation, beer fest, Cher Duncombe, female investigator, fraud investigator, grueling hours, mega corporation, new job, one of the guys, probation officers, sexual innuendos, shackles, thin blue line