I once got this grand idea that I would be a detective. A private detective, since I didn’t want to waste time going to school. At the time I didn’t have a job and was convinced I could make money as a private eye. After all, how hard could it be? I’d read that most private detectives spend most of their time locating missing persons or simply following people around and figured I could handle that. So, I set up shop. I hung up a sign, Borders Detective Agency, and was open for business.
And nobody came. No one. I didn’t get a single person to hire me. Of course, it may have had something to do with the fact that I was eleven years old. However, at the time I didn’t think that was a good enough reason for people not taking me seriously. Didn’t they realize I was qualified and could do the job? I mean, I’d taken a correspondence course and received a license, and I’d ordered an “official” badge from a magazine. Everything was set. But after a month of waiting, still nothing. Out of all the people in my neighborhood who knew me, not one of them had a case for me to solve.
So, I gave up. I took down my sign and started selling a weekly newspaper called Grit. This turned out to be fairly profitable for an eleven-year-old and soon I had quite a few customers in the area - just under a hundred!
One day, one of my customers, an elderly lady, mentioned that she’d seen my Detective Agency sign a few months before. “How did that go?” she asked.
“Fine,” I said, not wanting to admit I’d had no cases.
“Great! Do you think you could find some stolen property for me?”
“I can try,” I hedged, not at all confident anymore, now that I might have to actually prove myself.
The stolen property, I soon learned, was her grandson’s bicycle. She gave me a good description and off I went searching for the bike. And found it too! A few houses down the street, there it was leaning against a shed in the back.
I gave myself access to the back yard and then helped myself to the bike. A few minutes later, I returned it to my “client” who paid me quite well for my successful investigation. I was pretty proud.
It was a few weeks later that I discovered the house where I’d found the bike was vacant. And, it had been empty for quite some time. Asking around at a few of the neighbors, I further learned the elderly lady who had hired me didn’t have a grandson. Even at eleven years of age, I could figure it out - I’d been set up. It was rather disappointing. And embarrassing. I thought surely everyone was laughing at how gullible I was.
But then, with the help of another of my customers, I looked at it from a different perspective. Evidently, the lady had felt bad that no one had hired me and had created a case for me to solve. She was trying to do a good thing, to bolster my confidence and pride. I didn’t feel quite so bad then.
In a way, since I did figure out the whole thing was staged; I guess it was still my first “case.” And my last case too, because that’s also when I figured out that being a private detective wasn’t such a grand idea after all.