I often joke that my job is cushy, except when it's not. It ranges from 'wow, I'm having fun' to 'oh, shit', with a baseline of decent job satisfaction. Yesterday, ran the gamut... We are having our family friendly Spring fundraiser this weekend- it's the kickoff of our open season, the first event which has the seasonal staff back in force, doing their thing. I arrived at work, and there was a fair degree of prep work going on. I helped one of the IT guys move some equipment- he's a good friend and has done me some favors in the past when I've had computer issues, plus I like to think that I am, in the grand scheme of things, one of the people who contributes to the success of others rather than undermining them. I also had to open up the facility for an employee of another not-for-profit which is helping us with our fundraiser so he could drop off some material that we would be borrowing for the event. Again, I like it when everybody benefits, and both of our organizations are healthier for the collaboration.
After locking things up, I returned to the main parking lot, and the building in which my usual office is located. I noticed three individuals standing in a picnic area next to the parking lot, and was surprised when they greeted me by name at a distance of fifty feet or so. I had met these friendly folks when they attended our big Fall fundraiser, and they remembered me. They had an errand in the locality, and were planning their return to New Jersey when they decided to stop by after grabbing dinner in the locality. I spent a half-hour chatting with them about the upcoming event season, local scuttlebutt, and even about affordable places in the Lower Hudson region (one of them is totally enamored of the area and would like to move here). After a lovely discussion, I suggested that they check out my neck of the woods, the Yonkers/Bronx border region- go to a couple of bars, see if they could find out anything about available apartments. All told, it was a fun time, and I was tickled pink that they would stop over to visit me. It doesn't happen very often, but a few times a year, somebody that I have met through our events will drop by for a friendly chat.
About two hours after the trio departed, I received a phone call from the company which monitors our alarm systems. A motion detector in the maintenance garage of another site had been activated. The standard procedure is to instruct the monitoring staff to hold off on dispatching the police so we can perform an in-house check of the premises and make the determination ourselves. Generally speaking, one motion detector going off is a mouse- if multiple motion detectors go off, it's a marauder. One one occasion, we had a repeating activation of one particular motion detector, and I ascertained that convection currents from a radiator were moving a drape, and setting the detector off- shutting the radiator valve stopped that. At any rate, alarm activations are rare, but they do happen.
I won't say that burglar alarm activations are routine- even though I have never personally encountered someone breaking-and-entering, the very act of going to the site of an alarm, even one set off by a mouse, isn't a picnic. Last night, I drove to the site and there was a car parked in the entrance driveway, with its headlights on. This is not usual, and my immediate thought was: "Sketchy car, suggestive timing." I drove to the exit gate driveway, killed the headlights of the car, and quietly opened the exit gate. I drove onto the site and locked the gate behind me, not wanting any surprises. I exited the car, and ducked behind a tree in order to call the local police non-emergency number. I explained who I was, and where I was, and gave a quick précis of the situation- I had received a motion detector alarm, and arrived onsite to investigate, whereupon I saw a car which didn't belong in that spot at that time. I gave a description of myself and what I was wearing, told the desk sergeant that my car was locked onsite, and that I would be checking out the alarm panel and the buildings. I'm not the sort of person who gets scared easily, and I generally trust my instincts, my knowledge of my home turf, and a certain physical competence when it comes to conflicts- I figured the police could check out the car while I checked out the site. That being said, I went slinking from shadow to shadow as I made my way to the maintenance garage, which happens to be the site of the main alarm panel. The doors were securely locked, there was no sign of intruders- everything was in good order.
When the desk sergeant called me back on the company phone, he informed me that the driver of the car had broken down and was awaiting a tow truck. I told him that everything on site was in good order, and that the whole incident appeared to be a bizarre coincidence. I waited onsite until a flatbed tow truck arrived and the car was removed from our driveway. My initial 'OH, SHIT!' moment turned out to be no big deal.
It was one of those nights which served as a perfect illustration of the job- an absolute joy one moment, a task fraught with tension another moment. I know which of these moments I prefer, but I like to think that I handled both with equal aplomb.