Harvey Keitel is an actor with a list of movie credits as long as my leg, and in that vast and varied list he has twice been cast as a "cleaner"- first as Victor in Point of No Return and again as Winston Wolfe in Pulp Fiction. In both films he plays a brusque, quirky and ultra-efficient individual brought in to remedy dire situations, usually a crime scene gone awry.
A cleaner is an objective, cool-headed individual used by an organization-public and private, official and unsanctioned-to clean up the missteps of its members. A cleaner's job is to quickly assess a situation, take actions to minimize risk, and remove all traces of blunder. Frequently, a cleaner is the expert summoned when all other resources have been exhausted.
For less dire but equally emotional situations the very wealthy turn to "fixers," similarly unconventional professionals whose sole function is to solve problems. Usually the problems are uncommon, even unlikely to occur, but carry the potential for disastrous consequences.
Consider the following scenarios:
Frank's wife, Chandra, is being followed but no crime has been
committed. Law enforcement professionals explain that the circumstances
do not meet the criteria for a restraining order.
Jeane and Phillipe's youngest child, Selene, has just entered college and begun to socialize with classmates who are heavy drug users. She is unresponsive, even belligerent, when her parents express concern and will no longer visit them or return their calls.
Lauren, a key executive at a firm in the process of being acquired, is having an affair with a man 14 years her junior. Recently, Marcus began to make some extraordinary financial demands. When Lauren balks, he hints at the problems she could face if her husband and employer discover their relationship.
Sam and Renee are getting divorced after nine years of marriage during which Sam's net worth increased by $28 million. Despite the existence of a prenuptial agreement with a confidentiality clause, Renee is threatening to air Sam's substance abuse problems to secure a larger settlement.
Each of these cases is delicate and requires special handling, but also demands swift resolution to avoid further complications. Additionally, everyone involved wants to deal with their situations privately and avoid publicity. For these reasons, a fixer can be a desirable resource. They work within the confines of the law, almost always with legal counsel, but operate independently to circumvent bureaucratic obstacles. They often act as facilitators and negotiators, drawing on investigative expertise and well-honed persuasion and communication skills, to eliminate the issue or bring matters to a satisfactory close.
Fixers delivered the following results against the scenarios described previously:
In an informal, but forceful, discussion, the fixer explained to the
stalker that encounters with Chandra should be avoided at all costs and
enumerated the legal complications the stalker would face if the
situation persisted. The stalker disappeared and was not seen again.
A fixer openly investigated Selene's classmates concerning their use and source of street drugs, also contacting the "alleged" suppliers. Subsequently, Selene was snubbed by her friends and chose to transfer to a school closer to home after the first semester.
Lauren hired a criminal attorney who brought in a fixer to communicate with her lover. With little to lose, Marcus threatened to release a copy of an explicit tape he'd made of the two of them despite several visits from the fixer. After a meeting at which the attorney and the fixer reviewed criminal actions Marcus might have committed, including extortion, he surrendered the tapes and moved to Santa Fe. He has not been in touch with Lauren or any of her associates.
Sam and his fixer met with Renee to summarize the generous settlement provided in the prenuptial agreement. They also shared their knowledge of a particular event from her family's past that Renee had concealed. Within ten days Renee's attorney notified opposing counsel that she would abide by the contractual agreements, and their divorce was finalized.
Given their ability to solve unusual and serious problems quickly and discreetly, effective fixers can command a high fee for their services. They offer a unique service, one that is largely unrecognized outside certain circles, to a unique customer base that values control and privacy above all else.