Something to think about today.
As many of you know, I like to take pieces from my own life and experience and use them as examples. I am not the moral majority on every situation out there - but sometimes when you listen to someone else's experience and how they deal with things it gives you something to measure your own situation by.
Some years ago, I worked for a Public Defenders office as an Intern Investigator. I was in my last 2 years of college and wondered which side of the legal world I really wanted to be on and I also needed an internship for College Credit. Every day I reported to the office and was given a list of inmates arrested overnight - and I would promptly gather my things and head to the county jail (sometimes even state facilities. Hey just cause they're found guilty doesn't mean the defense always ends) to meet with the, "client," get his/her story - and fill out his/her paperwork to determine eligibility for a public defender attorney.
Sounds like loads of fun doesn't it? It was. I loved that job.
Best part of the job. Checking out the stories. You know - the alibi. I would sit in a little room made of big concrete blocks, a metal table, a thick metal door - and listen to a person tell a story that sometimes, I know, my eyes rolled, as the level of incredibility rose to greater heights. But as an investigator, listening to these stories and checking them out, was the job. It wasn't something I could just ignore. When I say, "checking out the alibi," I mean exactly that. I would go into some of the worst parts of a city (day or night) to meet with witnesses and talk to or look into whatever the client had told me. Heck yeah, there were times when I was scared out of my melon, but I had to push all that aside to do the job I was being asked to do. This person sitting in jail couldn't do this for him/herself.
The real kick in the pants is when you have no doubt in your mind the person is lying through their teeth - then you check out the story - and find out their not. Yeah, that's an awesome feeling. I mean that truly sarcastically. Personally, It did not make me feel good knowing, I had allowed my initial preconceived ideas to come into the defense of a person who it turned out, was telling the truth. I had to work really hard to change that about myself.
That wasn't the fault of the person sitting in jail - that was on me. Something I had to change. I had to learn how to listen and go where the information took me. Period.
It's not easy.
There are a lot of "titles," in the field of Bigfoot Research/Investigation - or whatever you want to call it. I take the title Investigator seriously. I'm sure you can figure out why.
Recently, I read as a fellow Bigfoot Researcher/Investigator, was pummeled by a fellow enthusiast for even the consideration of going to a site and investigating a footprint found on a property - after a sighting. A picture was sent by the witness, of the alleged footprint, and the request for help was made.
Granted, the photo (any photo) is less than ideal. So, is that where we stop? Picture is poor quality and may be a hoax? Well if that is the criteria then we should stop investigating everything - or stop calling ourselves "investigators." You don't even have to try hard to call every report or photo a hoax - so you can stay in the comfort of your home and call yourself a Bigfoot Researcher/Investigator.
No, I'm serious. If you want the cool title - then get your butt out there and do the job. Or don't ask for witnesses to bring their stories to you. It's that simple. Refer the witness to someone who is willing to do the leg work. Most of us put ourselves out there, looking for witnesses, to help us find proof of this animal. It's up to us to figure out the truth from the stories.
There has been this big push in the last few years to treat witnesses poorly. I don't understand it. Why would we want to insult the people coming to us - before we have any proof - they are not being completely honest? You can't tell and don't know if they are telling the truth, or not, until you are on the property and doing the actual physical work. I don't care what anyone else says - investigation requires actual on the scene work. Period.
Yep, you're right. You could be wasting gas and time. But, you asked for witnesses to come to you. You took the report. You agreed to listen and try to help this person. The expense is something we all deal with.
Sure their is a certain amount of, "gut instinct." But, that should be tempered against the information you are being given. Never forget - this is someone else's story not yours. The stories will almost always take a turn you will see coming, but sometimes not. Then what? What if you have already let your awesome, "gut instinct," take over? Yep - you will probably take your head out of the game and miss something important.
Sometimes the devil is in the smallest detail. The smallest detail is sometimes what we are looking for - whether we realize it or not.
Personally, I don't care how great the photo is or is not. I don't care how great the story is. I treat every witness the same and I investigate their story and, "evidence," the same. I don't go into a witness interview with a preconceived idea or notion. I don't assume out of the gate they are lying to me. I treat them with respect and do the job they have come to me to do. If that makes me a bad person - you know I won't be losing sleep over that.
If I walk into a witness interview and the person starts telling me things I just can't buy into - I still take all the information and then I find a researcher who can look into this kind of report. I am not rude or obnoxious. I simply do my job.
Fellow researchers/investigators - be good to each other. What we do is tough enough. It's stressful and all of us have been let down at one time or another. There isn't much that's sexy about being in the woods, for days at a time, with no shower. More than one private property investigation has left me covered in mud. We are always going to have the, "internet professionals," telling us how we should do things, how we did it wrong, and most importantly how right they were to begin with.
Just remember one thing - at the end of the day it's on you. It's your witness - it's your investigation to take as far as you want. What? Do you think the, "internet professionals," won't say something if you didn't take the investigation as far as they would have? Don't fool yourself. They will be more than happy to tell you that too.
It is possible to encourage other researchers/investigators - and yet politely disagree with their findings? I do it all the time. The photo in question here (footprint) is not the best, "evidence," I've ever seen - but would I blow off the witness and assume they are lying? Heck no. Would I berate the investigator involved and tell them they are stupid for even going to the site? Heck no. That's not even advice - that's being a jerk who thinks they have all the answers.
I would go to the property and do a full investigation. There is more information to be gained - whether it's a property with potential, or the ending of a possible hoax, before it even gets off the ground.
We are the first line of defense against the next great hoax. Whether we think so or not. We can sit behind a keyboard, very easily, and call everything a hoax - but it doesn't make it true. The facts are in the field and with your witness.
Pay attention. Listen and get your boots on the ground.
Finally - be good to each other. Encourage other researchers. Don't always look for the negative. Be CONSTRUCTIVE with your criticism - but acknowledge the hard work that went into what you have the chance to read about. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who just took time from their lives (and gas tank) to help someone else. Recognize we don't have all the answers and be the person you would want to talk to should you need help or advice.
In the end - know regardless of what you find, or don't, you can hold your head high and know you at least did what you could. That's all anyone can really ask.