Whenever I tell someone I used to be a paranormal investigator, they immediately romanticize and ask how many ghosts I've seen. Instead of going into my long diatribe about how that isn't how investigation works, I just make up a number. It's usually seven, because some people find it to be their lucky number and I love squashing dreams with one word. Because the truth is...
5. Paranormal Investigation Doesn't Always Mean You Believe in Ghosts
Yeah, you read that correctly. I don't believe in ghosts. And it's hard to tell someone that when they ask how many ghosts I've seen. After all, my job title included the word "paranormal." But the word covers more than ghosts. It covers anything outside the realm of what a typical person considers "normal." So why did I do it if I didn't believe?
Well, I kept an open mind about science and alternate realities. Just like anyone else, I love exploring the unknown. I wanted to be able to find out why things go bump in the night. Often times, I was able to come up with a plausible explanation for what went on.
4. It's a Dangerous Job
What a lot of the TV shows like Ghost Hunters don't show you are the dangerous conditions a lot of many "haunted" locations.
My team once investigated an abandoned elementary school in the East Bay area. There were rumors of people hearing children crying or screaming from outside, and we couldn't resist. We made sure to alert the police to what we were doing and assured them we'd be careful.
When we got there, a lot of the walls were crumbling. We couldn't even go up the stairs as some of them were completely missing. One of my team almost broke her ankle trying to jump over a sunken floor. It gets insanely dark in those places, too. A rule of thumb is to make sure you don't turn flashlights on too often, so you can imagine how scary it can be sitting in a pitch black room for hours.
3. It's Horribly Boring 90% of the Time
Paranormal investigation isn't all romantic evenings of screaming and running away from crap you can't see. It's not a hobby — it's a job. And just like any other job, you have to spend at least eight hours to get a full reel of "evidence."
A lot of times, we'd spend more than eight hours on a job. We'd have to get there before dark to set up our equipment and complete the questionnaire. Once darkness fell, we weren't permitted to leave until the sun came up. And this happened regardless of any paranormal activity. There's no getting off early in paranormal investigation. Worst of all, sometimes the people who owned the location wouldn't leave and you'd be stuck with them.
2. The People You Help Can be Weird as Hell
We investigated a home once where the older couple who lived there swore a ghost was attached to their extensive library of super old books. It was definitely awesome reading books from the days of actual pirates and sea dogs, but the explanation for the noises they heard were most definitely termites.
But the couple wouldn't have our explanation. Instead, they insisted it was a poltergeist. They also insisted that aliens had called them on their landline and they'd been taken into a literal fairy land for a whole night.
Not exactly ideal working conditions.
1. Aside From All the Downers, It Can be a Fun Job
All right, enough of me trying to steer you away from hunting ghosts. A lot of the shows you watch on TV have to whittle roughly 16 hours of footage down to 52 minutes which can be boring as hell, but when something you can't explain happens, it's worth the wait.
One time, we were able to investigate the famous Brookdale Lodge in Felton, CA. It was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and was famous for various ghost sightings.
On this particular visit, we were given a plethora of equipment to use that we'd never had the privilege of touching before. Among those was a hyperbolic dish. Essentially, this equipment uses a large dish on its front to pick up sounds that would normally be inaudible to human ears.
While hunting around and asking the normal bout of questions, we all heard very clearly on our headphones what sounded like a little girl singing. It got to the point where we were able to make out a word or two every so often. And just as soon as it began, it stopped altogether.
We didn't stay much longer.