Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On The Outside, Looking In.

Remember back when I posted about how things always seem to change when I complain about my situation and they didn't usually change for the better? Well... it happened again. The complaining and things changing part, anyway. Surprisingly enough, things are actually a lot better now.

Halfway through September, I was transferred again and, no, it wasn't back to my original desk. I've been moved to a completely new desk in yet another division altogether. And, yes, this came as a result of me complaining. Not to myself or into the vast open spaces of the internet but to what appears to be a more effective audience: HR.

Yeah. Now, I'm normally the kind of guy who tries to make the best of things. You know the type: the guy who quietly sits and mutters to himself instead of proactively initiating change until one day he finally reaches his breaking point and thoughts of property damage start playing around inside his head.
S-stapler...
Yeah, that guy. Or, at least, I thought I was. When things actually got to the point with my supervisor where I couldn't take it anymore I ended up going to HR and lodging a complaint. I even surprised myself. One thing led to another and here I am, working on the executive offices. Please note: my job title and salary remain the same level (the bottom). I'm just doing the job I was hired to do in a different setting.

I guess this is the point where I go into the ups and downs I had with the supervisor in question and talk about how things at my new station are working out. But... no. That's enough of that. Instead, let's talk about the time I locked myself outside my office... and, by extension, the entire building... on the top floor. That's way more interesting, right?

AHEM! The government office that employs me takes up the top three floors of a seven-story building. The executive floors are, of course, on the top floor of those three floors. On each floor there are two emergency exits and each of those exits also grants staff access to the balconies where staff is free to go to think, focus on a difficult task/assignment, view a passing parade in the streets below, have a private conversation or weep mournfully as they contemplate the meaninglessness to their existence (it's cathartic). As such there are no alarms to go off when these doors are opened.

Most of the time, though, people just go outside whenever the air-conditioning starts acting up. On rare occasions a unit will break down but, more often than not, they work too well and it gets super-cold in the office. Not many of us are built to take it but I don't mind. I just throw on my jacket and I'm good so, with only a few exceptions, I pretty much ignore those balcony entrances, even though I'm now seated right in front of one of them (naturally, this means, if shit goes down, I'm the guaranteed to be one of the first ones out).

That was until yesterday...

It had been raining all week. The air was colder than usual and even I was feeling the chill in the air. Then, from the window behind me, I happened to notice the sun had finally decided to check in on us. The sky was so bright I just knew it would be nice and warm outside already. I imagined the feeling of the warm sunlight on my skin and I could feel myself being pulled to the outside. That's when I decided to just go out and thaw off for a bit.

Now, as I said earlier, I hardly availed myself of the privilege before but the few times I did, I got in and out with no problems. However, what I didn't know was that, unlike the other balcony entrances, the door behind my desk does not open from the outside. So when a gust of wind eagerly finished closing the door for me I barely paid it any mind. I soaked in some sun, looked around a little at the nearby streets and buildings and headed back for the inside. Only... When I got the the door... Yeah...

"Of course..." was my first thought because, obviously if anyone's going to get themselves locked out it's me.

This was when I looked around and realized the balconies aren't connected around the corners and there was a seven-floor-deep gap between me and the only other entrance on the floor. Outstanding! My next thought was to discretely call one of my coworkers on their cells so they could come over and let me back in. This was unfortunately hampered by the fact that I had earlier put my phone to charge and it was at that moment sitting on my desk, evilly smirking at me (IT SMIRKED! I SAW IT!) through the locked window.

"Naturally!" I sighed.

At this point I was left with three options:
  1. Climb up the roof-access ladder and get to either the other balcony entrance or the door to the main stairwell.
  2. Go across to the emergency stairwell, make my way down to the floor just below and get in from an entrance there.
  3. Knock until someone heard me and came to my rescue.
Each option, however, comes with it's own set of problems. Like I said, it was windy. Climbing up to the roof and walking across seemed risky, especially since the entire center of the building is hollow all the way to the ground floor and all that covered that section was a huge glass dome so yeah... No! I considered the emergency stairwell option for a quite a bit but I wasn't sure if opening those doors triggered any alarms or if any other doors opened from the inside besides the one on the ground floor. Common sense told me I should be fine. The fear of sending the building into a panic if I trip off an emergency alarm told me back off that idea a bit.
See? Some of them do trigger alarms. I wasn't letting the lack of a label lull me into a false sense security.
source
While I was considering trying to get to the floor below, it also occurred to me that there was an Option 4: Since the building had a sort of Mayan pyramid thing going on, I could just ignore the stairs and jump down to the balcony below.
source
But I decided against it.

This left me with knocking and calling at the offending door until someone came to my rescue. While this may seem like the most viable solution to sum, to me it was the least desirable option. My new supervisor, who happens to be the one who sits closest to me was on lunch at the time so this meant I had to really make myself heard. Not only did I leave myself open to ridicule from whoever came to let me back in but I ran the risk of attracting the attention of the executive staff since their offices were all around my area. Being on the floor only a few months, I felt that somehow this wouldn't help me make a good impression.

Still, of all the available options this was the only one that could count as "sane" so I figured I'd play it safe. So I knocked... and waited... and knocked again... and waited some more. Then I realized there was no one within earshot. I looked at the emergency stairwell door again. I began to wonder if they'd fired me if I set off the fire alarm and sent hundreds of people scampering.

I knocked again, slightly louder. Nothing.

I decided to enjoy the view for a bit more until someone noticed I was missing. I figured, worst-case scenario, I had at least half an hour until my supervisor got back from her lunch break. Roughly ten seconds later I was back at the door, knocking and trying (and failing) to not look overly pathetic. I realized if someone did pass by, I'd only look like I was getting some fresh air rather than trapped outside. This time, though, my efforts paid off and a few minutes later I heard a 'click' as the knob turned and the door opened.

"What's the password?" It was the personal assistant to the third-highest ranking guy there. She was just returning to her desk and heard me knocking.

"Thanks," I smiled and started to pull the door open.

She held firm on her end, "Noooooo. That's not the password." She smiled back with a sing-songy reply.

I joked it off and made a few guesses (all of the wrong) but she insisted on making me squirm for a minute before letting me pass. FYI: It was "open sesame", apparently. Go figure.

"You now this door doesn't open from the outside, right?" she said as I walked in, "We normally block it open when we go outside."

"No... No I did not."

All-in-all I endured only minimal embarrassment and, as a bonus, the rain held up the entire time. That counts as a good a day, in my book.

7 comments:

  1. Well, hello from the other side--DAMMIT! I can't get that Adele song out of my head! If I was in your situation, I probably would have done the same, or, used my shirt to shield my face from security cameras as I set off the emergency alarm. By the way, you might be the first person to ever complain to HR and not have that lead to somehow the complainant getting punished. Good job and hopefully this new position is more enjoyable.

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    1. "Hello From The Outside" came dangerously close to being the post title... But I knew you all would hate me.

      Things are going alright so far. Everyone in HR knows about my former supervisor. They were pretty much expecting me to show up sooner or later.

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  2. I had an incident much like this in fifth grade... well not quite like it... I was locked INSIDE the room when I was supposed to be at lunch- because the darn Nun told me I couldn't go to lunch until I finished something and then forgot about me... then I realized the fire exit was OPEN... Long story short, I had five minutes for lunch and all I got was a couple peach halves and a butter sandwich.

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    Replies
    1. I got to go back to my desk & continue working. All-in-all you came out out of your situation with the better deal.

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  3. It's good to have a place at work where a guy can go cry for a while. Usually it's the bathroom--this seems much more picturesque.

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    1. Yeah... And less poo fragranced too.

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  4. Great post. I 'thought' I was locked inside a sauna once. Actually I wasn't. I was just too enervated and weak from being in there for so long that I lacked the strength to open the door! In a panic I started banging on the door. My lungs were burning from the dry heat. I felt a right twit when a staff member opened the door to let me out saying 'all you had to do was push it hard. Its not locked or anything'. Fresh cool air never felt so sweet! - Fiona

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