by Joe Kirkpatrick
Imagine being a Priest - In the deepest realm of privacy, a person confesses their deepest sins from deep within their soul.
In the early 90's, my wife Elaine and I were at a dinner party. During the course of dinner time conversation, our hostess said, "My brother is in town, and you will not believe what he has - he has this scanner thing where he can listen to everyone's cell phone calls." The words had hardly escaped her mouth when I thought to myself, "I've got to have one of those."
The next morning, I called a large electronic supply company in Chattanooga and asked if they carried them. The man on the other end of the call told me they did not, as they were illegal to be sold in Tennessee, but that they could be purchased just across the state line at a store in Rossville, GA. Then, he made a statement that clinched the deal for me - he said, "I don't know you, but they are $500 out there. I bought one and it was the best $500 you will ever spend in your life - you will not believe what you are going to hear!" As soon as I got off the phone, I jumped in my car and headed for Georgia.
As I removed the small scanner from the box, little did I know I was going to get a deeper look into the inner workings of humanity than even a priest might see. I am going to take you with me into some of the most private and intimate conversions I heard. Even though I did figure out the identities of many of the callers, none will be revealed.
Multiple personalities - to be honest, I thought they were fake. Something made up for movies and the Phil Donahue Show. My mind was changed on a Sunday night in 1992. As I was scanning calls, I happened on what was obviously a conversation between a physiologist and her patient. The patient was a gruff sounding woman, with a very coarse voice. After arguing several minutes, the doctor told the woman "I want to talk to --------------." The woman refused, but the doctor kept insisting. Finally, after a minute of silence, a meek, timid voice came on the phone. To be honest, I thought it might have been the woman's little girl. As I continued to listen, two other personalities emerged over the course of an hour. What I had seen on TV might have been fake, but this certainly wasn't.
Affairs - I knew people had them, just did not realize how many! Affairs were especially interesting because they are continuous, and involve many, many cell phone conversations and last for months. Some became so predictable, I could even predict what time each night they would be talking. I am going to highlight a couple of my favorites. One was between two prominent people. He is kind of a "rough around the edges" sort, she was more refined. In one conversation, in his normal gruff voice, he was talking about a business deal when suddenly he paused, and then in a quiet, almost childish voice he sings, "I loves you Punkin, yes I doooooooo." My wife and I were almost rolling we were laughing so hard! At a later date, she evidently was breaking up with him, and I happened upon the call. For twenty minutes the conversation is totally one sided as this big tough guy cries as he talks, saying "Punkin, I don't know what kind of hold he has on you, but there is no way another man can love you like I do." She never says a word - I could not figure out why, then came the end - "So Punkin, if you come in and get this message and want to talk, call me - I loves you." I learned something new from that conversation - I didn't know they made answering machines with tapes that long!
Another was a father who was a local educator talking to his mistress while he was sitting in a restaurant parking lot waiting for his teenage son to get off from work. The mistress says, "You remember when we were all at that Christmas party at ---------'s house? You were there with your wife, but you and I snuck upstairs and did it in their bedroom closet?"
Another favorite was during the big snow of 1993. The woman is talking to her lover. "I told (husband's name) I needed to take him to work today since I needed the four wheel drive to buy groceries. That way he won't have a car and there is no chance he will come home today and catch us."
Life and death - even though it was well publicized that cell phone calls could be listened to on some scanners, it never ceased to amaze me how stupid some people were, especially in law enforcement. One particularly disturbing call I heard was made by a District Attorney in a neighboring county to a law enforcement officer undercover in a major drug operation. "----------------, the next time you buy from -------------, make sure you buy at least ----------- (amount) so it will be a class X felony." A few weeks later the largest drug bust ever made in that county took place. What if it had been a member of the drug gang with a scanner instead of me?