So there I was, out of work.
In the old days it was easier to get another job, but all I could manage was to become a night security guard for a local company…. on £3.10 ($4.79) an hour!
I was posted to the Co-op College, Stanford Hall, out in the country at Rempstone, on 13 hours night shifts, and a 15 mile trip each way.
The place was massive, duties included, patrolling all 11 buildings, restaurant, pub, archives, library, stores, computer room, reception, cash takings security, drunks, car parking, games rooms, tennis courts, golf course, the Lido, the four residential blocks (including the 244 students regular studebts), the tutors quarters, the 18 classrooms, issuing tennis and golf gear for hire, the Roman gardens, the central heating for the main block, and greeting visitors and taking them in the restaurant to serve salads to them, before guiding them to their rooms and carrying their luggage for them, manning the phones, responding to calls for assistance form pupils, tutors, bar staff, and visitors, the local police ARV vehicle, key control (there were over a thousand keys on site), the hundreds of windows on site, different timed lock-ups unlocks, setting unsetting alarms, unlocks, escorting bar staff to and from the safe with the cash, keeping drunks in order, somehow finding time for recorded patrols and responding to calls for help etc etc!
Looking back, I do not know how I managed it… but this particular night, the ‘Night of the Storms’, was a particularly horrendous night!
1720hrs: The lightning and rain started pelting down as I drove up the main drive to the reception, to start work at 1800hrs…
As soon as the staff had shown me the keys for the night’s visitors due, and they shot off during a break in the rain.
Then it started: The first power cut!
Now this was new to me, and I knew the first thing I had to check was the Police Armed Response Vehicle garage, conveniently located at the far West end of the compound, this I did, and returned to inform the police that all was safe with it – then I rang the caretaker, to find out how to reset the boiler, all the time having to fend off enquiries from bar staff, drinkers, students, and tutors about the power cut!
I got my torch, and went into the boiler room, luckily the instructions given me by the caretaker, sat at home watching the Morecombe and Wise show, were clear, and in about five minutes, I’d reset the boiler. After I stumbled about a bit the torch packed up. Grazed chins and a bruised head were acquired within minutes of entering the boiler room.
Back to base (reception area), to find all the flaming alarms were going off – 14 All of them I say!
It took ages, but finally I managed to get them all reset, not without a certain degree of frustration and cursing.
Then the guests arrived, and I fed them, and guided them to their rooms, they were Bulgarian, but somehow I got my messages across.
Then, I thought, ah, I’ll put the kettle on, and get me first patrol in… ‘Oh no!’ The second power cut took place!
This time I was a bit more knowledgeable as to the procedure, and went through it all again.
Then I got calls from students who were locked in the computer room, and archive rooms due to the alarm affecting the locks! So I had to go and release them, and reset the code access controls on the door.
When the bar closed, I escorted the barman with his cash to the safe, and we deposited it safely. Then I went around locking up the library, computer room, archive room, games rooms, Tutors quarters, etc.
By 1100hrs, the staff had all gone, and I hoped things would settle down a bit.
I took the opportunity to start filling in my incident report sheets – then the third power cut struck!
It was getting hectic now, students wanting to know what was going on, stopping me, phoning me, they even rang the company (For obvious reasons I can’t mention their name here Scan Security) to say they couldn’t find me for help. The night manager contacted me on the RT. What a night!
This time I had no staff to bother me, so got it sorted relatively quickly… all bar an extra alarm that I could not identify had gone off this time! I had to phone the very unhappy at being woken up caretaker again. It turned out it was a hallway picture alarm, but we could not identify which, so I had the pleasure of going around all the halls and staircases, checking the 60 or so pictures/paintings hanging on the walls, to identify which one it was – during this, the forth power cut hit!
I went through the procedures again and then back to searching for the activated alarm on the painting. I managed to find it, and closed the contacts behind it in the hope that I could now reset it at the panel.
So back down two flights of stairs, through the main hall, back into reception to get the keys to the ‘catering managers office’, where I was informed, the panel was located for this alarm.
It was in a walk-in cupboard. I fetched the required keys; the panel was very high on the wall. I had to use a chair to stand on to reach it, but thankfully, it reset okay.
Back to reception, put away the keys, and back to my incident reports, and yes, you’ve guessed it – another power cut!
This time lightning had hit a tree outside the boiler room door, and partly blocked entry – so very sodden and frustrated, I had to haul it out of the way, but everything reset okay again… then I realised I’d forgotten to inform the Leicestershire constabulary control room that all was safe with the ARV garage… so did so, and got a mouthful for being late with the report.
As the staff arrived in the morning, nothing looked any different to them, and I had to take the incident reports home with me to finish filling them out.
While doing this at my home, the phone rang, control had received a message from the Catering Manager at the college. It seems I had left a dirty foot-mark on the chair used while I was accessing the mystery alarm panel, and I was now to receive a written warning!
Real worried I was…