Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alone At Work

Last week I was the only person in the building at work. The warehouse is empty for the winter and the boss was out of town at a convention. It was just me…alone…in 24,000 feet of office/warehouse space.

In fact, most of my employers required me to be alone in the workplace at one time or another. When I was in college, I worked the opening shift at a Friendly’s Restaurant. One time I walked into the restaurant and the door was already unlocked. There was no one in the building but I should not have gone inside. We never did find out why the door was open.

I worked for a non-profit organization for several years after my daughter was born. The organization was located in Public School Building built in the late 1800's. I was always alone in the building. The building is reportedly haunted by a sick young girl who died while waiting for help to arrive. At least that is the version of the story I heard. The local paranormal society has taken pictures of orbs, photographed images in the windows of stairwells and has audio of a young girl singing. In my office, the calculator would turn itself on and off. I felt cold patches in the hallway. There were a few times it felt a little creepy in the old school building.

I must digress here and tell the story of the strangest conversation I had at the non-profit organization. A rotund older man walks in the office. He does not say anything rather he moves a chair within inches of my desk. He sits down. He is so close that his knees are against the front panel of the desk. He places his elbows on the desktop and leans forward…

Man: I need your help.
Me: Ok…How can I help you?
Man: I am here to do gynecological research.
Me (thinking): What? Did he really just say what I think he did? Really? Yes, he did.
Man: I want to find out if my ancestors came from German lands through the Port of Philadelphia.
Me (speaking clearly and slowly): Oh! You need help with ge-ne-a-log-i-cal research.

Back to the post…

I am rarely alone at my current location. The building is alarmed and chimes ring whenever doors open. Upon entering the lobby, a person can walk either into the warehouse or into the reception area. My office is in the back of the room and has one entrance. If it is quiet, I can hear the doors open and the chimes ring. If the printers are running or if I am on the phone, the sounds get lost into the background. On any given day, people regularly come into the office such as UPS, random sales people or the USPS.

Alone at work, I think about self-defense scenarios, awareness and environment.


SueC said...

You're a braver woman than me if you don't mind being alone in that environment! I hope you have a panic button to summon help if needed?

Michele said...

Hi Sue,

This was the first time I was alone in the warehouse. It made me think...

There is a alarm code I can enter at the terminal if there is a problem. The problem would be getting to the keypad.