Last week, I thought I’d really impress the braintrust at Law Firm by arriving before anyone else.  Even though I wanted to hang myself when my alarm sounded at 5:45 A.M., I crawled out of bed with dreams of impressing Law Firm into offering me a piece of the parternship.  Or at least giving an office without the word “maintenance” on the door.  At least The Partners had enough confidence in me to give me a key to the office and the alarm code.  I wish they had enough confidence in me to pay me more than the minimum wage in Cameroon, but I figured a little display of my work ethic would solve that problem.

I arrived at work at 6:20, with the office predictably locked and dark.  Everything going to plan.  No problems with the deadbolt occurred, and I strolled confidently to the alarm keypad.  My confidence quickly waned when the code supplied to me by my office failed to disengage the alarm.  Hurriedly, I re-entered the code.  Nothing.  The keypad began to make angry chirping sounds, and I began to get worried.  I try the code again, and again I receive the mechanical chirping that sounds like mechanical peals of laughter.  The main alarm siren now begins to sound.  It’s loud.  It sounds like a pack of bobcats caught in one of those machines that crush cars.  I’m sure I was screaming also, but it mattered little as I drowned out by the caucophony of bobcats. 

I ripped off my suit coat like Chris Farley in the SNL “Chippendale’s” skit and leaped over the reception counter towards the phone.  I dialed the 1-800 number listed on the keypad, hoping the good people at Ultimate Security Systems could save the day.  As if the herd of bobcats wasn’t bad enough, now a friendly voice is interspersed with the sirens informing me that “The Police Have Been Alerted” every thirty seconds or so.  Awesome.  At least it couldn’t get any worse.

Except the good people at Ultimate Security Systems don’t answer their phone unless it is normal business hours.  So after leaving an expletive laden voice-mail, I dialed the number the voice mail left me “if this is an emergency.”  Since my job was on the line, I decided this clearly qualified as an emergency.  The emergency number was disconnected.  So, if you’re getting raped or tortured, and you have one phone call to make, I seriously advise against giving Ultimate Security Systems a jingle in the hopes they’ll catch you on the jangle. 

Weeping openly and unable to breathe, I wrest my tie from around my neck.  The phone rings.

“This is Juan from ADT Security.  The Police have been alerted to your emergency.  Can I he…”

“ADT?? WHAT HAPPENED TO ULTIM….DOESN’T MATTER.  JUAN, I NEED YOU TO LISTEN LIKE YOU’VE NEVER BEFORE LISTENED.  STOP THE POLICE.  NO EMERGENCY.  DO YOU HEAR ME, JUAN? NADA EMERGENCIO! NO POLICIA NECCESSITO!”

“Sir, I don’t speak Spanish.  And, frankly, I find the stereotype a little insulting.  In order to cancel the Police Alert, I’ll need the password.”

“FRIVOLOUS? BAR SANCTIONS? SOULLESS? AVARICE? BLOODTHIRST? DID I ALREADY TRY SOULLESS?”

“Sorry, sir.  None of those are correct.  The owner of your office has been contacted, and the police should arrive shortly.  Please stay on the line for a short survey regarding ADT’s custome…”

But I’ve already dropped the phone to the floor.  Juan better be glad I didn’t have time to take that little survey.

Partner of Law Firm, accompanied by a police officer, burst through the front door of Law Firm.  Partner is wearing pajama bottoms and has horrible bed head.  He angrily jabs is finger into the keypad a few times, and the bobcats stop screaming.  The nice lady informing me of police alert is quieted.  As Partner turns and begins his glare that has intimidated juries for three decades, I miss her. 

“You’re up awfully early, sir,” I attempt.  “What say to some breakfast at The Crackerbarrel? My treat?”

The cop left, and the Partner chewed me out for causing him to miss out on his full eight hours.  Looks like I won’t be getting out of the Janitor’s closet anytime soon.  But it won’t stop me from trying.  I’m going back in tomorrow at 6:15.  I don’t remember the code exactly, but I’ll figure it out.  I’m at my best in pressure situations.

 

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