I’m often asked two questions about how I became a Death Investigator. First, people want to know what inspired me to into such a depressing field. Second, they want to know what my educational background.
If I’m guilty of anything it’s letting Hollywood influence me on any level. Right away I should have known better. But at least I can say that C.S.I was never a factor in my decision. Nope for me the two movies that influenced me the most were Silence of the Lambs, and the genious that is M. Knight Shyamalan, Sixth Sense. Now granted both of these movies came out long before I ever knew I was going to be a death investigator but it’s still interesting how they became an influence. Because this story is too long for one post, this post will be about Silence of the Lambs.
Probably, while I was still a freshman in college, I saw Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Stearling became my idol. Young, female and with a dual degree in Criminology & Psychology, and there she was on her way to a fabulous career with the FBI, investigating serial killers before she even graduated. I saw that movie and just knew I was going to be a kick-ass FBI agent. Shortly after watching that movie I became obsessed with being a prodigy of my own. I went to the book store and bought every True Crime book I could find written by FBI agents/Former FBI agents who investigated serial killers. I even kept news clippings about local murders that I stashed under my bed, because “Oh my god!” I was going to read through those clippings just one time and figure something out that the highly trained police had missed and solve the crime. Yeah me! Eventually I lost interest in the news clippings and became obsessed with something else…what I have no idea. I’m just relieved I lost interest because, in retrospect, that was kind of creepy.
Anyway, I worked pretty hard in college and had internships with the U.S. Attorney’s office, the U.S. Probation Office and the Juvenile Probation and Parole Office. Then it came time for me to pull out the stops. I submitted an application for the very coveted FBI Honors Internship. Sadly, I received a rejection Christmas Eve of 1998. Oddly enough, it was the nicest rejection letter I have ever received. No sarcasm. I promise. I don’t remember what exactly it said, I just know that it was 150 times nicer than the rejection letter I received from a small private college in Pennsylvania that told me “…you lack the promise and motivation of the kind of student we’re looking for”. Kiss my Master’s degree! Assholes!
Anyway, back to the FBI-’cause they’re way cooler. If I remember correctly, the rejection letter basically commended me on all of my accomplishments. The way it read was very sincere and completely unexpected. After all this is the FBI we’re talking about. I really expected that, if rejected, their letter would read something like this “Dear applicant. Thank you for your interest. However after review of your background we have determined conclusively that, YOU SUCK! Thanks for the laughs, LOSER! Sincerely and still laughing our asses off, The Cool People!”
As tragic as the rejection was for me I still figured that I could get work with the FBI because I had the same background as Clarice Stearling, and if this fictitious person could do it, so could I. But graduation came and went and I realized that just about every Tom, Dick & Harry applying for the FBI, had my qualifications. I was not special.
So what does one do with a dual degree in Criminology & Psychology. Well, there’s always options for graduate degrees in Sociology or Psychology-but I had no interest in pursuing that. There’s also the option for applying with the local police department. I also had no interest in that which is probably good because in all honesty, no sane person would ever give me a gun. Plus there’s the psych test they make you take. Hell, I can’t even pass a personality test (story for a different time).
What was my first job after graduating? I worked in a call center for an insurance company as a customer service rep. Yeah me! (note sarcasm here). And this is where I write “To be continued”. Hopefully you’re still awake.