Nights of the Living Bored

Written by Lord Lansdowne

My current assignment is to work nights in a building. I'm not really sure what I'm expected to do here other than rotate the security tapes and occasionally scare a tenant with the dog. For the amount I get paid, that's already too much in my books.

I've been assigned this guard dog which--or so I was told--is significantly smarter than any other breed. If this dog is smart, I'd hate to see what a stupid one is like. Then again, it is a Belgian Shepperd and you know what they say about those Belgians.

The best part of this dog is that it only obeys to commands in badly spoken French--again, I blame the Belgians. If you try to speak to it properly, it just stares at you with that "I'm extremely dumb, please don't beat me" look on his face. (It clearly understands that I'm as happy to be here as I am happy to have him here with me, so he may be smart in that regard.) And while I do not advocate violence against helpless (or dumb) animals, I must admit it is tempting.

So you have to order him around speaking like an English person that can't speak French properly. As you can imagine, with the fact that I don't speak either language properly, communication between the two of us has been difficult at best.

As I'm writing this, I am currently on the fifth floor, making sure that nobody is stealing the worn out wallpaper or the I-Can't- Believe-This-Was-Cool-In-The-70s carpeting. Or so my Daily Report states. The Daily Report is this piece of paper where the security guard is expected to write what he's doing. Showing what a dedicated worker I am, mine is a fine example of fiction. Unfortunately for me, this one has to be written in a serious tone, as it turns out the property manager actually reads these each morning, maybe to bring some sort of excitement to her otherwise dull life.

Unlike the time I was put to guard a locked gate that was to be opened in the case a fire started and the fire department arrived (you can imagine how often that happened), I was writing things like:

10:15   The gate is still there.
10:30   Nobody has stolen the gate.
10:45   This is rousing.
11:00   My lobotomy scar is starting to hurt.

And so on. For twelve hours. On the bright side, nobody actually reads these things at that location, which sort of defied the point of actually having to write them in the first place. But those are the rules, and there is a cabinet full of them.

To pass the time, I read those of other guards but they are precise, exact and duller than a butter knife. Assuming, of course, that this is one of those reports you can actually read. The fine art of writing, amusing or non-, is definitely not a requirement for this job and sadly it shows.

I decided instead to read a couple of books: the first one, "The Hackers Crackdown," by Bruce Sterling, even if old it is still a fascinating read, especially if you like this sort of stuff and you were online a decade ago. The other book is a sort of a Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU project, biography titled "Free As In Freedom." The author, Sam Williams, tries to give a different perspective of Stallman than that of an arrogant prick the media makes him to be. In the book, he sounds like an obese idealist who loves to eat and is extremely bitter.

As for the gate, assuming that if a fire did indeed start, the smoke, fire and eventual sirens would be a clear indication that it had to be opened.

But sadly, the pudgy woman that runs this building checks them carefully, highlighting specific sentences, like "Odd smell on 7th floor"--which is true. When nothing happens (which is always), you report odd things. Like the time I found a piece of paper in the lobby (and not a body in the staircases as I had hoped).

Occasionally she leaves helpful suggestions written on little post- it notes attached to the reports. So grateful I am, I use them to test the shredder. And believe me, after several hours of abominable dreadful monotony, using various objects to test the shredder becomes insanely fun.

There are two amusing things about this woman: the first, is the signs she continually posts around the building. Now I'm all for informative signs, but how hard is it to check the spelling of words? Unfortunately, this git splatters her grammatical abominations from the penthouses down to the garage, informing all the tenants that their "atention" is "requrred". Naturally, this leaves me in that similar state of mind when you have your underwear firmly wedged in the crack of your posterior but you can't pull it out.

I am contemplating whether I should spend a couple of hours hunting all the signs down and correct them with a thick red marker. The best example of all of this was some paperwork in the office's desk involving someone's lack of payment, informing them that the "sherif" would be contacted. I know, I'd be scared too.

The other amusing fact about this woman is that I have never actually met her.

But I already hate her. Maybe it's the photos of her fat cat. Maybe it's the photos of the many overweight people that pose in them with the grace of a wounded buffalo. Or maybe it's the funny-- as in vasectomy funny--photos of an extremely obese child looking like someone forgot to remove the thermometer before putting the diaper back on.

I think, however, the lack of happy emotions towards this person is that I know she's watching me via the security cameras. The guard that was here before me said to himself, "Hey, nobody around, I'll just surf the `net here in the office," and that he did. I mean, who blames the guy?

However, the lovely property manager, not seeing him appear in any of the cameras from the monitor up in her apartment, went downstairs in the office to check and got quite upset.

With the talents I learned from reading "How To Look Busy and Still Do Nothing," I devised a very simple plan. I did my rounds the first day that I was there, timing how long it would take me from one camera to another, depending on where I was going.

At the appropriate times, I get out of the office--which has no camera--and make an appearance. I stop in front of the camera, look around, make sure a door, or whatever is secure, then disappear. Ideally, I am continuing patrol. In reality, I am back in the office, slumped on the chair reading a book or contemplating just how much I hate this job. The Smartest Guard Dog In The World (TM), meanwhile, is fast asleep. Ironically enough, she has complimented my boss as to what a hard working person I am.

Now, if you'll excuse me it's 4:25 AM, and according to my log report, I just finished patrolling the east staircase. Camera 7 is waiting for my performance.