What is it like to walk a mile in a nurse's shoes as she cares for people in a nursing facility? Or, for that matter, to walk a mile in size 16 heels?
This sixth annual edition of Little Rock Confidential offers up stories, told anonymously to persons on the Arkansas Times staff, by people who know the answer to those questions, as well as the joys and travails of being a bail bondsman, or woman tattoo artist, or woman pastor, or an art teacher to adults with developmental disabilities. Even a member of the General Assembly confides in us.
Art teacher, adult daycare facility
I teach adults with developmental disabilities, so there are varying levels of skill, varying levels of mental capacity, varying levels of, you know, where that person's been that day. Basically, every person comes with a different slate every day. So, one of my biggest challenges is having to be fluid with adults. With children, you can reprimand. You can say, "You know what? I don't like the way you're acting" or "You need to sit down and be quiet." These guys are adults, though, you know? You have to give them a level of freedom. It's not my job to tell them what to do. It's my job to teach them art.
But, you have things that come into play every day — different political views, different factors — and you just have to roll with that, to work with all different types of people to reach the same goal, which is to enjoy art. We have people with very strong ties to religion, or [politics, according] to the way that they were raised (and that being the only way). We have a large amount of Trump supporters who come through our building ... who are just blindly following what is being taught at home. So, at times it's just better for me to bite my tongue and wear my "Nasty Woman" shirt rather than talk about it. You express yourself and show people love in different regards, as opposed to arguing with someone because their mother told them they'd have to stay at home today to watch the entire Trump inauguration on TV. I mean, that happened, and this woman's mom came and got her, because I wouldn't put it on the television. What do you do? You let it go. These battles are very different from children's battles. I mean, there are fights about somebody taking all the crayons, but also, "I'm in love with this person, and they don't love me back." With art, there are feelings and emotions, and you get to express them.
We have a volunteer-led painting program that works with people who are nonambulatory, people who are mentally sound but maybe can't use their hands. They come up with some really dark pieces. Lots of dark browns, lots of reds — really specific choices in abstract paintings. And that person will come up and say, "This is what I'm feeling like today. I've had to move to a different house four times in a year," because they can't find legitimate help for their daily needs. Painting is their expression about not being able to do things for themselves — not even being able to go to the bathroom by themselves. It can get really dark, because the world looks really bleak for them.
These Medicaid [reductions] that are coming down the pipeline would put these people in an absolute shell. It wouldn't provide for them to come here anymore. It wouldn't call this an "emergency." It wouldn't count this as a service that is necessary to them. A 28-year-old male who's in a 9-month-old's headspace — he gets something out of coming here every day. He gets something. He sees colors. He hears music. We've gotten letters from our CEOs — ones that are sent out to these families — saying, "This is what's coming down the pipe. Talk to your representatives. Tell them this is not what you want." So, it's basically then a fight to get the parents and the people supporting people to understand that they need to do whatever they can do to prevent it, and that they will be directly affected. I fight a large amount of my battles against the bureaucracy — basically, our facility doesn't receive any Medicaid money when the students leave, when we clock them out to paint somewhere out in the community, when we take them to a play at The Rep. These are the kind of things that we want them to be able to experience, but if they're not here for a solid eight hours, we don't get billed for them. We get a lot of opposition.
— as told to Stephanie Smittle
Drag queens, Tonya and Kathleen
Kathleen: I got started when I was 23 or 24. I watched "RuPaul's Drag Race"; we marathoned it. I was already interested in women's fashion. The first time I ever dressed in drag, I had a drag birthday party. The girls came as drag teens and the guys as drag queens. We did lip sync.
Tonya: After I saw Kathleen in the "Rocky Horror" show at Sway [a Little Rock nightclub], I saw how inclusive it was. Everybody was willing to help him do as good a job as possible. That encouraged me to do it, too. Before drag was popularized, you had to go to a bar to see it or on YouTube, and then it got mainstreamed on LOGOtv and you could see what went into it. It made me really interested — the artistry, you have to know about hair, makeup, costuming, hip pads ... . When I saw how supportive everyone was, it put me over the edge. I'd been wanting to do it for such a long time, ever since I was 14.
Some do it for free, until you get to a certain point. We want to make money and help the club. Almost any drag queen you'll talk to, you operate in the negative — the costs of the clothes, the wigs, the shoes. But you're able to do something very entertaining, and [later] you can fall back on your investments [in dress].
Kathleen: We have a show tomorrow. I'll get off at 5 o'clock, we're supposed to be there at 10, so I'll have five hours to prepare. I'll go home, shave, shower, relax and then glue down my eyebrows.
Tonya: You take an Elmer's Glue stick or some kind of adhesive and use it to make your brow hairs lie flat, and layer it. Then you cover them up with makeup. The trouble is covering up the color. If you start to sweat, the glue will melt and the eyebrows will pop out.
For men, the skin above the eyelid hangs down a little bit, so we draw on eyebrows higher so we have more space for eye shadow.
Then you get into the foundation and contouring. My cheeks aren't high, so I'll draw a fake hollow that's closer up here and contour my forehead to look smaller.
There's a lot of hair removal; that's the most time-consuming.
Kathleen: In the old days, if you wanted to be a drag queen, you would go to a club to learn to entertain in drag. You would get a mother, who would teach you makeup and styling, who to go to to get readymade outfits. Then when you were established [and achieved mother status], you would adopt a daughter or daughter.
Tonya: It's always a struggle to be innovative and memorable [in your act]. The field is really saturated right now; people will do whatever gimmick no matter how much it puts them in harm's way, no matter how much they have to put away their dignity. There was a girl [at the club] who was flying from the ceiling and did it all with her own gear, she was 25 feet off the ground. She just came in with one of her friends and hooked up to the ceiling. I don't think she even had a contractor come in to test whether the beam was weight-bearing.
There was another one that — I don't 100 percent agree with this — that had an actual knife and carved up a raw chicken on stage that she had put blood in. You've heard of Santeria, right? It was a raw roaster chicken.
Kathleen: And that was an issue itself because of salmonella ...
Tonya: There's a fire-eater we're friends with that wanted to do it in the club but wasn't allowed to, so she did it outside the club.
Kathleen: And one girl did the splits without warming up.
Tonya: And someone I know I think got a mild concussion from falling straight backwards.
We try to do humor. Tomorrow I'm going to do a number inspired by Tonya Harding. I would wear skates but I'm not willing to spend $160 on size 16 figure skates and then hurt myself.
Kathleen: I try to make references to movies. Tomorrow I'm going to be doing a "Serial Mom" number, from the movie with Kathleen Turner, by John Waters.
Tonya: A lot of the acts are sexy. We tend to go toward more comedy, but a lot of people prefer to go down a route of traditional, seductive acts, stripping where you're not actually physically taking off your clothes.
Kathleen: I haven't had anybody be hostile, but there have been times when people don't know drag etiquette — you don't go onstage to tip, you don't grab if a woman is performing and make a pass. It's a legality to keep us separate from a strip club, which has to do with the age of the people who can get in and food.
Tonya: I've gotten ice thrown at me and heckled. It's hard to see who it is because of the spotlight in your eyes. A lot of times it's my friends; they're drunk, and it's in good humor.
We saw a patron of the club getting beat up by her boyfriend outside in the street and we ran out and pulled him off and got her back inside with her friends. As petty and drama-filled as it can be, we do all care for each other.
It's a community of extremes. Everybody can be really supportive and helpful, give you bobby pins and hairspray and eyelash glue, but the second you step out of line — do a bad performance — they are the first to put you on blast.
Kathleen: It's like blasting someone with a laser. Say you texted me something hateful, I would post the text on Facebook, so that something that is private and ugly is now public. If you say one thing in private and another thing publicly, there is a vigilante justice that goes through the community.
Tonya: The reasons people entertain in drag are very individualistic. For some people it's an outlet if they have gender dysphoria; it gives them the ability to dress the way they want to.
Kathleen: Every since I was young, I've always liked women's fashion, pretty dresses, makeup, how they do their hair. I was denied a lot of that, told, "Don't be a sissy." I like to explore my creativity with fashion; with men's fashion, you can't.
Tonya: It's the transformative quality of the art itself. You create a persona and you don't have to be yourself. It's kind of like a confidence issue. I can't make myself look slender, but I can choose the silhouette of my body. It's fun to step away from what's always been normal.
My first time in heels on stage, I wore a dress I made myself out of Chick-fil-A bags. We had to go to so many fast food places to get the bags, and we got a KFC bucket that they didn't want us to have. It took 180 Chick-fil-A bags.
Kathleen: The first [Chick-fil-A], they gave us 10 bags, and said "I don't know what you need this for, but I hope it's for a good cause."
Tonya: The second was at McCain Mall, and they gave us 30 bags. They didn't care.
Kathleen: When we went to the one in front of Lowe's in North Little Rock ...
Tonya: These younger girls, they got so excited. They gave us so many bags. If it hadn't been for them ...
I sang "Fergalicious" by Fergie, about candy and food. It's normal to have a very athletic build — well, not athletic but a toned build, to be lean and strong and skinny in drag, and when you are overweight you get labeled, you're not going to be able to do any athletic tricks. That's the barrier we try to break down. We're not dancers, but we still want to go out there with as much energy as possible. My first time, though, it was my first night in heels and it was miserably hot in front of the spotlights, hot in the club, hot inside a paper dress with a giant bucket headdress ... a full-sized family meal bucket with paper mache drumsticks covered in brown glitter.
Kathleen: They were glued on.
Tonya: And I had a chicken nugget box purse.
Kathleen: The act I'm most remembered for was when we did the "U.S.A. is AOK" and I based the act on the mockumentary "Drop Dead Gorgeous." It's Kirstie Alley and Kirsten Dunst, and they're doing this pageant and the theme is "The U.S.A. is AOK," and they come out with headdresses made of different monuments, and say "I love the U.S.A. because ..."
Tonya: The club is full of conspiracy theorists, it runs rampant, and people are super convinced that the entire situation with 9/11 was a conspiracy, all fake, a fabrication of the Bush administration.
Kathleen: So I came out with the Twin Towers on my head and said, "I'm happy to be living in a country where jet fuel can melt steel beams and an inside job can be covered up to become a national tragedy ... ."
Tonya: The movie was set up to make fun of people's belligerent nationalism. The act was a very nuanced way to be social criticism of the conspiracy that runs rampant in the club.
Kathleen: It was not to make fun of the tragedy itself, but to make fun of the people who don't believe it was a legitimate terror attack. I sang "Don't Cry Out Loud" by Melissa Manchester and had two backup dancers who were dressed in cardboard planes, and when they crashed into me they shot off these glitter pens.
Tonya: We were very ready for damage control.
Kathleen: We had a long talk about it. What makes legitimate social criticism?
Tonya: There are people who have protested [acts], but if you're not pissing anybody off, you're not exciting anyone.
— as told to Leslie Newell Peacock
Women didn't start coming up for ordination (in any numbers) until the 1970s in my denomination, though it had been allowed since the 1950s. It was the '70s when I encountered the first female pastor I'd ever met. I didn't know it was possible.
The first time I saw a woman pastor I thought, "I don't think I'm going to like this." I had never thought about a woman [pastor] before, it didn't seem right to me. So I can very much relate to how people think it's a weird idea. It was to me at first.
What happened, which is what always happens, is that after I had a chance to experience her as a pastor, I thought, 'What is the big deal? It's not any different. She's just a pastor.' If you have that skepticism, you have to have a personal experience of a woman as a pastor to get over that.
I was ordained in 1984. I think the first churches I served had objections before I came, but apparently they weren't so anti-woman to keep it from happening.
Here's the deal. Every church I've ever served, people who are vehemently against women in the ministry leave before I get there. They're just gone; they find another church. Then there is a sizable number of skeptics, just like I was. It takes about three weeks for them to realize nothing has changed. Church goes on. Services go on. They have to realize how unremarkable it is to have a female pastor.
But you do have people who are not always your fans, especially at first. You have to build trust. It's really important. Some women make the mistake of wanting to come in and change a lot of things. They appear to have an agenda, as far as women's issues go. But the best way to get progress is not to talk about it in the beginning. Standing in the pulpit is enough to say that women matter. Once you have relationships and you've made deposits in the emotional bank account, you can start making withdrawals.
People did come to me occasionally and say they didn't believe in God. You know, there was a guy in the last church I served, a wonderful guy, but he had cancer. He just struggled, telling me, "I know that people believe in Christianity" — he was a long-time church member — "but I just can't believe. I don't have that kind of faith. What am I going to do?" It was impossible to help him be at peace. I finally said, "It doesn't matter. It's OK. You are who you are, you believe what you believe. You don't have to make yourself believe if you don't." I hope that, in the very end, he found peace.
I'm just too liberal, I guess, but I think we should trust our instincts and what makes sense to us. The church to me is a means to an end. It's not an end in itself. It's to help you feel at peace, it's a source of love and comfort and strength, and if you don't find it there maybe you can find it somewhere else. Buddhism is a wonderful source, I think.
The older I get, the less it matters as far as specific religious beliefs. I could never be ordained today.
When I was a kid I used to think about hell a lot, not that it's mentioned much in my denomination. I would think, "There's a God who's going to decide that you've done 57 horrible things in your life so you're going to hell, but here is someone who's done 56 horrible things and they don't?" It just didn't make sense.
A lot of things pushed me to go into the ministry. I'm glad for it, but I could never do it again. I'm just in a different place. When I was a pastor, I believed that I believed, I was not being insincere at all. I wasn't trying to fool anyone.
But over the years [you see] life is so very cruel. This creation is beautiful, but very cruel. Look at the animal kingdom — predator, predator, predator. With humans, too. If there is a creator, why create something that is so absolutely guaranteed to make you suffer?
The TV series "The Young Pope" — a lot of people don't like it, but I think it's great. It made me think about, maybe I just try to make God be benevolent, but maybe God is not benevolent. Maybe I'm just refusing to accept that that is a possibility.
— as told to Leslie Newell Peacock
LPN, long-term care facility
I don't get grossed out. I really don't. Somebody who might have a bad cough — who coughs stuff up out of their lungs — that grosses me out a little, but pretty much nothing else. Our CNAs [Certified Nursing Assistants] are the ones who really bust their asses and take care of the patients. I'm talking about they clean up vomit, they clean up feces, they clean up urine, they clean up — well, people that have tube feedings, those will sometimes leak and they clean that up. They're the ones that get down and dirty, and they're the least paid. I understand how it works — they're also the least educated, but they're the ones who take care of the patients. The nurses give them medicine, perform assessments, communicate with doctors and families. And they do paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. But the CNAs check vital signs, make sure the patients have water, make sure they're bathed and clean, that their sheets and blankets are clean and dry. For the ones who can't take care of themselves at all, they keep their mouths clean and perform mouth care. They're the ones who have the nasty job. Imagine that you can't get out of a wheelchair by yourself and you know you have to go to the bathroom, but everyone's busy doing something for someone else right now. And you know, it's dignity smashed to smithereens when they shit on themselves. But it happens.
You get attached to people. On the long-term care side, some of them are there seven or eight years. In our facility right now, we have a lady who's been there nine years. It's hard. A lot of times, there aren't family members left to make medical decisions. It's hard for a niece or a granddaughter or a nephew to make their loved one a DNR, where they're not resuscitated if they go into cardiac arrest. There are people who, if they weren't getting artificially fed and artificially hydrated, they'd have died. They become contracted because they can't have therapy since they don't have Medicare. If they're on Medicaid and in long-term care they give up all their money but $40 a month. The facility they're in is responsible for all their medication and all their food, and the facility is owned by a corporation who's looking at the bottom line. If they make money that year, administrators, admission specialists and the Directors of Nursing get a bonus. So they understaff the facility — it's a horrible thing to see, but there can be people waiting to go to the bathroom — or worse, sitting in their own waste — while a CNA is next door helping someone else.
They need to be looking at acuity — what does it take for a person to be taken care of properly? We do things in our facility that used to be done in a hospital setting. If someone is incontinent and can't move and has to be turned every two hours and they can't lick their own lips or wipe their own face, then someone should be spending maybe 20 minutes with that person four or six times a day. Sometimes that doesn't happen, and bedsores occur. Which makes people irate because there's always an attorney on TV saying, "If your loved one gets a bedsore ... ." It's all a big circus, and it really just depends on how much Medicare or Medicaid is going to pay you for that patient.
I work in a facility where the budget is $5.25 per person per day for food, and it looks like shit on the plate. They give them a bologna sandwich with a piece of cheese and a packet of mayonnaise and a packet of mustard on the side. I mean, it's pitiful what people who don't have money have to do at the end of their lives — probably after working their asses off their whole lives.
I love those little old people. They become almost like your grandparents. For me, that's the way it is. It's not that way for everyone; people that work there get aggravated, and some of the patients are aggravating. There are people there that are 80, 90 years old, who still use the N-word and cuss people who are taking care of them because they're black. That happens. But these people are at the end of their life, and they all deserve to be treated with love and respect. It's a heart-wrenching thing, and it pulls you in every direction.
— as told to Stephanie Smittle
Woman tattoo artist
A woman doing tattoo work is going to have to deal with a lot of dick jokes. A lot of calling women "bitches." It all depends on who you're working for, though. There are some tattoo artists in the community who are super P.C., and some who are not. I've definitely had to deal with a form of sexism that's like, "Oh, I want the girl to tattoo me because she can draw better." Like, favoritism sexism.
Everybody wants a woman tattoo artist at this time, and it kind of makes some of the dudes upset. Right now, I think that a lot of the tattoo artists you see coming out with solid, fresh new ideas are women. For the longest time, we weren't given a shot. We were told what to do. We were told, "You tattoo what's over here. I'll do all the flash. You go through me, and I'll tell you what you can put out." And you know, tattooing as we know it in America only really goes back to wartime. In Eastern cultures, it's definitely much more ancient. So, women have come a long way here in a very short amount of time.
One time this guy came in and asked for a face tattoo of his girlfriend's name. Right across his face. And we were like, "Are you shitting me?" And, I did a dick bouquet for a woman once. Like, a bouquet of ejaculating dicks.
The majority of tattoos I've done have been on women and gay men. I think I've only tattooed two straight men in my entire life, and I am totally cool with that. Women want women tattooers. Maybe they feel more comfortable about it. I don't know. But they don't usually ask for the guys. Biker dudes who come in don't want me to touch 'em. They don't feel like I'm gonna do it justice; I'm not gonna do their rebel flag justice, or I'm not gonna do their reaper right. (Laughs.) And I probably would put a dick in its eyeball or something.
— as told to Stephanie Smittle
A member of the Arkansas General Assembly
I would hope that anybody who runs for office wants to be a public servant. The word politician has earned an unfortunate connotation. A negative connotation.
There are people who show up in Little Rock and you don't necessarily see them do a whole lot. But it is important to remember that legislating is not our sole job. Just because someone doesn't go down there and run a ton of legislation, it doesn't mean they're not working for their constituents back home, it doesn't mean they're not being a thoughtful presence in committee or in their respective chamber. But you do hope that when somebody gets elected to the legislature or any office, they are doing something and not just enjoying the title.
I really genuinely believe [that] it's not nearly as toxic or polarized [here] as it is in our nation's capital right now. There are definitely partisan fights, but those are small in number compared to the number of bills we actually pass. You can have the most right-wing legislator and the most left-wing legislator and they still vote together more than 80 percent of the time. Unfortunately, the partisan issues tend to get more of the attention. You just try to put together as broad a coalition as you can, both politically and geographically: conservative Democrats, moderate Republicans.
We're a relatively small state. In D.C., you fly in, you're there for a couple days or a week. It's my understanding that these days, there's not a lot of commingling between members of opposite parties [in Washington]. In Little Rock, there still is. There's less since the ethics laws passed, because there's not the dinners. It is, I think, one of the interesting unintended consequences that we have started to see members from opposite parties and different parts of the state are socializing less because there isn't somebody actively pulling different groups together to take them out. It's not that we're all too cheap to buy our own dinner. But before that, you did have lobbyists who were strategically pulling people together to try to build relationships. Now, that's really on us, and it doesn't happen quite as often. I wouldn't say it's reason enough to go back to the old days of ethics [rules], but I think it's worth pointing out to people that something like that wasn't all bad. There were positive aspects.
I would think it would be all but impossible to go down for a legislative session and not have any contact with the lobbyists. When you show up as a first-time legislator, you're going to end up working on issues that are outside your area of expertise. You just are. The lobbyists know the issues. They're a great, quick resource. Obviously, they almost always have an angle, something they're trying to push. But in my personal experience, I've never had a lobbyist mislead me or misrepresent anything. I figure that's just because they know that if they do that once, they've probably lost you forever. Even if they don't get your vote now, they might need your vote later. I make it a practice to always ask them: You want this particular piece of legislation. Why would somebody be against it? I make them argue the other side. If they can't or aren't willing to, I'm not willing to trust what they're saying. There's always at least one other side.
I do think that there are legislators who are more influenced by lobbyists than others. I can't think of any lobbyists, though, that I haven't voted with and voted against. I'm not in the pocket of anybody. I think it wouldn't be entirely unfair to say that there have been legislators who were in the pocket of certain lobbyists. That's all I'll say there. But if you're that worried about somebody getting bought by a steak or a hamburger, you should do a better job of finding somebody to run, or you should vote for somebody else.
Is corruption widespread? Given recent events, I don't necessarily want to say that it's not. [Laughs.] It certainly seems to have at least some presence, but I don't think it's to the level you've seen in other states, or in our nation's capital. It's a shame when something like that happens. Every time, it just makes it harder on everybody else. If one politician does it, everyone gets painted with the same brush.
If it wasn't worth it, I wouldn't be doing it. Every job has its frustrations and challenges. It can be tough. Right after the [presidential] election, [my spouse] and I were like, "Ugh, I can't imagine going down to Little Rock." Honestly, there were a couple of days there when I questioned whether I even wanted to. But I looked at our child, and I thought: I can't imagine her growing up, getting old enough to learn about the election, and her asking me: "What did you do then?" I didn't want to have to tell her: "That's when I decided to hang it up."
So, you just keep going. It's more important now to fight than ever. I don't want to make it sound like it's only important for Democrats to fight. I think that it's important for anybody who really cares about our institutions and still believes in the power of government and its ability to do good, and who still believes in civility and democracy. It's important for them to be involved, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. We need more people running for office who are interested in governing, and not just being in office.
— as told to David Koon
It's different every day. Some hard days, some rough days, some easy days.
Basically, somebody will come in or they'll call and we'll go down to the jail. Or they fill out their paperwork here, pay here, we go down to the jail. Probably five or six a day.
The family waits outside and we go into the back with the inmates.
We sign the book, but we don't pay at the windows. We actually go through the bonding doors. You go through one door, you're in the middle of two doors. You have to wait on them to allow you into the next door.
When you get in, there are like five tables in there. There are chairs in there. It may just be you and two other bondsman. It may be you and 15 people that are getting released. It may be full of inmates. It's not just you and your inmate.
So, they bring the guy out or girl. Whichever one. We fill out our bond. We fill it and bring $20 in. So we pay a jail fee of $20, but it's broke up into different charities. The actual jail only gets like $2 or $3 off it. So they're really not making all this money that everybody thinks that the jail's making off of the bond.
They take it back to the sergeant, to approve the guy or girl to be [bonded out]. Then [the person being bonded out] will go in a room and they'll change out. They'll get their clothes that they went to jail with back. They'll put them on. Then they'll go to the window and get their property back: their phones, keys, wallets, whatever they went into jail with, they'll get that back at that time.
And then, we just wait.
Sometimes there's a long wait over there. It can be four or five hours. But, at the same time, you got to think about what all they've got going on. We're not the only one there. There's other bondsmen there, there's other people there needing things. So you just have to wait that out, too. You can't expect to just be real fast-paced every time. And they may have a code over there. If they have a code over there, we're stuck just like the inmates: We're not getting in or out either.
When they let us out, that's when we go back out with the family. Most of the time it's normal business, but you do have some mamas. It's more the moms that are real upset.
We get 10 percent of the bond and $80 of the state fee. Say it's like a $4,000 bond; it's going to be $480.
That's the easy part. Then it's keeping up with them afterward, staying in contact with them. We gotta call them and let them know their next court date. Make sure they're staying on top of that kind of stuff.
And we tell them when they're back there the stipulations of their bonds. Because that right there's going to let you know if they start arguing with you: "Hey, do you really want to bond this person or do you not?"
Literally, we are babysitting them. It's like teaching a baby to walk. You know, there's a first step where they have their bond hearing, and then they have their plea arrangement, then they have the next step.
They have to call in every week, too. That way we can keep up with them, because if they miss court then we got something to go off of. Like every week they call in you verify their name, phone number and address. A lot of times they'll give you a different number though. They'll call you and give you the number that they bonded out with but yet they're calling from another number.
You know, sometimes you gotta go out there. You go to the addresses. On the application there will be like five or six different addresses and references: their mama, their daddy, brothers, sisters, friends. Whoever. And then you have to go to each address. Or you may have to dig further, pull their public records. We get authorization to pull any kind of records.
You go out there, you surround the house, knock on the door. And sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard. They'll hide from you. You have to go in, search the house. Just like something you see on [the television show] "Cops."
There's about eight of us that go. When you get out there you never know. People high on drugs, people drunk. You never know what it's going to be. Maybe a gun lying in that room when you go in. You just never know. It's a day-to-day thing you face.
— as told to Jacob Rosenberg