Private Investigation comes with SO many stereotypes. Personally, I blame the 1980's tv Private Eyes: their ridiculous sports cars, fancy jewel heists, jet-setting adventures (or helicopter rescues), billionaire clients, hilarious sidekicks, gorgeous assistants and STUNNING penthouse offices.
The real-life P.I. stereotypes are definitely less fun, but no less predictable than their fictional counterparts: Real Private Eyes are mostly ex-cops, security guards, loss prevention guys, ex-military. The emphasis here being "men". And don't even get me started on the typical P.I. vehicles: those huge, obviously blacked-out SUV's (Suburban, anyone?)
To be honest, most of those T.V. stereotypes were a huge influence for me growing up. My dream job was to be a "detective". I mean, come on ... Magnum P.I. living rent-free on an estate in Hawaii, driving around in a free red Ferrari! Nice.
I DO have car, but it's a Chevy... NOT a Ferrari.
And this sure as hell isn't Hawaii.
My Origin Story ...
After a successful but unfulfilling career as a Journalist, I knew that I needed a change. It took a while. In 2019, I finally decided to pursue my childhood dream. I worked my way up as an apprentice Private Investigator with an amazing Agency in Toronto. I quickly learned I had a knack for finding people, for blending in when needed, for catfishing bad guys, and especially for going above and beyond for our clients. My biggest asset was my ability to think outside the box.
One afternoon, a new client called the Agency. He was looking for an Investigator to do covert surveillance on a business. All I had to do was sit in my car, in the dark, recording anyone entering and leaving the property. No one would have seen me; it was an easy gig. 6pm-6am. A perfect fit for me, as I've worked part-time in restaurants since I was 14 (180 years ago, or so), and nights were always my first choice.
I immediately requested the assignment.
The next day, my boss told me the client didn't want me working the case.
I was stunned. What the hell? Had they heard bad things? Nope. Did they go with another Agency? Nope.
The client said the job was too dangerous for a woman. (What the f--k does that mean?)
The client was concerned for my safety and wanted a male Investigator to do the work. A simple job, where no one would see me. Apparently, my major flaw was simple ...
I'm a woman.
Well, I'm not just a woman. Now, I'm a pissed-off woman.
Jay Took The Wheel.
It was soon after this that I created my alter ego, "Jay". I was determined to not be undermined by small-minded misogynists. Jay became the face, even if in name only, when I finally opened up my own Agency in 2022. Every email was from Jay. My introduction on the website was about Jay. All of my academic credentials were attributed to Jay. Jay was androgenous and safe, a solid business ideal. Jay was badass.
At the time, I told myself that Jay was also an easy way to preserve my anonymity, something that P.I.'s covet for the sake of safety. I was lying to myself. I was just scared. I thought I wouldn't be accepted in a world made up of former cops, security guards, retired military, and whatever other dude-bro stereotypes you could think of. I thought I needed to fit in to the boy's club, and "Jay" would help bring in the clients.
In reality, "Jay" was just a band-aid on a broken leg.
The real Jay is a middle-aged, not-too-thin mom driving a "mom car". I kept up the ruse of "Jay" for a while, but the real me was slowly realizing that my best advantage was just that: the real me. Jay didn't make my website, I did. Jay didn't develop my client app, I did. Jay wasn't bringing in the clients, I was.
I was doing my own heavy lifting, thank you very much.
I also quickly realized that I had a very distinct advantage; I fit in everywhere! When I needed to be a nurse, I fit in. When I knocked on doors to serve divorce papers ... yup, I fit in. When I needed to be a hot 25-year-old blonde fitness model... well, ok, that was only online. But still, I fit in anywhere. I wasn't an Investigator in a blacked-out SUV; I was just somebody's mom, sitting in a car, waiting to pick someone up. I was also just the lady in a nice dress, sitting on a restaurant patio. Sometimes I was the lady in the supermarket, checking out the produce. Oh, wait, I'm the health care worker helping your elderly Neighbour.
Jay Had to Die ...
It took a while, but I figured it out. I didn't have to hide behind an ambiguous persona. I didn't need to worry about offending any easily offendable misogynists. My skill set would prove itself. I altered my website to include the real me. The ambiguous Jay had to go.
I killed Jay.
Any doubters of female Private Investigators can kindly take their seats. They can look from afar as I solve my cases, grow my business, and help as many people as I can in the process.
The fact that I am a woman is an ASSET, not a risk.
It is my best advantage, not a downfall.
It is the quality that has set me apart from the rest.
I didn't fit the mold, so I made a new one.
My name is Jennifer. Nice to meet you.