why I would like this job: private eye

broken windows, PDX

I should be grading papers right now, as in all weekend, because we just finished a term and a new one starts on Monday. Instead I'm blogging, which is far more fun. Have I mentioned how much I hate essay grading, not the reading or editing or giving feedback per se, but grading, assigning a number-o'-judgment? I sat in an in-service workshop Friday afternoon, listening to an IT instructor sing the joys of online quiz generation with built-in auto-grading, only auto-grading doesn't work for qualitative assessment, which is all I do as a writing teacher. And I'm not even paid for grading (or prep), only for the hours performing in front of a class. Yeah. See previous posts.

The following satirical piece was written in frustration during a job hunt years ago. Some of the information no longer applies (the marriage, living in the Bay Area). Don't worry—it wasn't sent. Enjoy. For me, it's time to pull out the red pen.

Dear Small Private Investigator:

The reasons I would like to be your assistant are myriad and my qualifications plentiful.

Although it is tempting to claim that I'm a single parent who really needs a job to support my five children, I'm married, childless, and do need a job but not quite as much as that other hypothetical person mentioned in the job description. But I am female, which perfectly fits the ol' private-eye stereotype of male boss and female helper. (You're male, right?) I'm white, though that may count for or against me. And I don't speak Spanish, which definitely counts against me.

However, I'm relatively bright, and while in the end you probably have to take my word for that, I do have two degrees, a fact which shows diligence and some degree of verbal, organizational, and analytical aptitude. My recent studies in discourse and stylistic analysis have strengthened my ability to see and analyze patterns of form and content, a needed skill for a private investigator investigator's assistant.

As for my particular interest in investigative work, let me just admit now that I went myopic in fourth grade from reading quantities of girl-detective fiction in low light ("Just . . . one . . . more . . . page"). Throughout elementary school I was a big fan of Trixie Belden and then Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and I also enjoyed the original Three Investigators series, though I found the Nancy Drew characters unconvincing as paper dolls. A reader, I am also a voyeur, which makes my wanting this job self-evident: I'd like the excuse to justifiably nose into other people's business. And if that's not convincing enough, what about this reason? The line of work just sounds interesting, straight out of TV (yes, I had a crush on Magnum P.I.), not to mention the fact that I might mine the stories, names changed, for future writing material. (Hope that's okay with you.) Oh, I almost forgot: I also love to be helpful. [smiley face]

Does watching The Wire on DVD count as "working knowledge in the service of legal documents?" I certainly know the difference between a summons ("Dude, you're going to be the defendant in court on this date") and a subpoena ("Dude, you have to testify in court on this date"), as anyone who watches crime dramas or film should know. Furthermore, I am not averse to going through someone's garbage as long as I can wear gloves since I'm a teensy bit like Monk, meaning I'm no germ lover, but not OCD.

While I prefer word processing, Typing I and II were my most useful courses in high school since they taught me where the fingers go (unlike my husband, who types like a lobster). I also know how to properly apply correction fluid, though it's messy and, as I said, I prefer the computer. (Why is anyone still using typewriters anyway?) Google and Wikipedia are fabulous informational tools; I use both daily—that's how I double-checked the difference between "summons" and "subpoena," just in case. I have also been complimented on my soothing telephone-customer-service voice during summer jobs in college, which may come in handy if you have any creditors.

I have an operating car, a driver's license, and no moving violations, but would I be allowed to BART and walk to work most of the time? That would be better for me and the environment. On the other hand, the four-day schedule would be ideal, leaving me a weekday to clean house and run errands so my husband, who makes more money, wouldn't have to and could instead spend his weekend playing video games. In addition, I need no benefits since he and I have given up on being provided them by corporate America on any consistent basis, but I'd prefer the $18/hour to the $15/hour figure, if possible, further evidence that I'm not dumb. My résumé follows.

Happy Hunting, and hope we can hunt embezzlers and cheating partners together!

Yours sincerely,


  1. Oh, B. you SO should have sent that cover letter! I really think it would have landed you the job!!

  2. Really? I find it both uppity and snarky, provoked by the condescending job description, which I should have kept. But if you come across any similar ads, let me know. It's the job that got away. ;)


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