Week 5 - 10/14/03
This week I got so bored working at the health club that I manually went through all 10,000 combinations on a 4-digit combo lock until I found the right one and was able to open it. Also the computers crashed so I made fun of the situation by telling all the people forced to manually sign in on paper that this was just a Carpal Tunnel test to make sure they were healthy before they could come into the club. This was all well until one guy actually did have Carpal Tunnel and got real mad.

Sadly for everyone involved, however, this week marks one of the last of my working only one job. I’ve been in the process (for some time, actually), of lining up a job in late-night security, because in these troubled times of civil unrest and fear for safety, I want to give something back. And by that I mean I’d like to get paid to sit behind a desk somewhere for eight hours and write. This being said, however, the security industry makes a big deal out of who exactly it selects to hire to sit for eight hours and write, and the result is a ridiculous red-tapey mess of background checks and honesty tests and drug screenings and lots of waiting around. You’ll remember I went through all this in Chicago last spring.

I’d planned on just being able to transfer over from Illinois within the same security company I’d worked with before, since they have offices all over the world. Several people on both ends of the company had told me this could be easily done. That is, of course, until Bureaucrasaurus reared his mighty head. Apparently someone in Chicago had accidentally deleted my name out of their computer, so regardless of the fact that they knew full-well I’d already worked for them just a few months before, the LA office had to do a complete re-hire. Clearly working around the system was out the question. If I’m not in the computer, I must not exist. It was like playing Peek-A-Boo with an object-permanence-lacking two-month old.

In any case what this boiled down to was another month of hoops for me to jump through. I think I drove to their office to fill out paper work at least 9 times during this month. There was one time that I had to sign and date my name no less that 37 times on this one stack of forms. I shit you not. I counted.

Now, I stand by my policy of not digging dirt on places I work, deserve it though they might. “Security” reasons, you know, plus at this point I have no dirt on this job since I haven't actually started working yet, other than on their asinine hiring procedures. I am, however, feeling pretty bellicose toward this particular company right now, so I will at least share some stories from my last security job, stories that to this point haven’t yet seen the light of day. I can only imagine this new opportunity will provide me with more of the same.

Working weekend security at a bank building in the Chicago Loop was possibly the sweetest gig ever. For 10 bucks an hour I’d show up, sign in, then go upstairs with my laptop to an abandoned floor and write/sleep for a while until it was time for my lunch break, where I’d write/sleep in the break room. Then it was back up to grindstone on the abandoned floor.

The only problem was sometimes they’d have me fill in for non-weekend, daytime shifts when there were actually people around. These shifts involved actual work, such as dealing with deliveries and messengers, or worse yet just standing there looking ominous in the lobby, doing absolutely nothing at all. This was torture. There were a couple of other days where I filled in for a guy as the freight elevator operator, riding up and down in a metal box for six hours taking people and things to different floors. I could read while doing this, at least, but I went home at night feeling like I’d just gotten off a roller coaster. Now you may be wondering, couldn’t this job have been done just as well by a machine? Certainly there are old-timey manual elevators like the one Droopy Dog drives in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, but I heard these days they make new-fangled elevators where a passenger can just push a button and the elevator knows where to go. The sad thing was that my elevator had this. Several years before they’d updated the control system so it no longer required an attendant, but I guess they didn’t have the heart to fire the guy who’d been there for fifty years. So they let him stay. And filled in for him when he was sick. So there I was. Not only could my job have been done by a machine, it was being done by a machine. I just went along for the ride.

But ducats is ducats. And the job was a dream for the most part – nice and easy, no responsibility, lots of time for productivity in other areas. You know a job is going to be good when you have down-time even when they’re teaching you the job. The following things were done by me during my rigorous, two-day 'training' to become a bank building security guard. Yes, I said training.

  • Talked on my cell phone for half an hour to a friend while I was "learning how to make rounds".
  • Watched an entire episode of 'Law and Order' while "learning freight-elevator detail".
  • Watched WWF Smackdown. By this point I think they were out of things they could think of for me to "learn".
  • Read 100 pages of 'Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone' while skipping aimlessly from floor to floor, finally finishing it on the toilet of the sub-sub-basement's bathroom; all while "developing my now-keen round-making skills".
People of the world, sleep well. Your security is in good hands.

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