Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to get you
Every career has that email that probably should not have been sent. Not every career produces a classic email that lives on in office lore long after anyone that originally received it still works there. This is one of those emails, sent while I was working on Rockledge Drive in Bethesda Maryland. The reference to "Café open" was to the fact that there was never a sign for the café in our building except the initial opening sign saying "Café open".
This is a message sent by a coworker with obvious paranoia:
I am sending this note out to suggest that if people come here at night, to be very careful.
Last night, at about a quarter of eleven, I drove into the parking lot and headed towards the entrance of the building facing away from Democracy Blvd. A couple of cars and a white truck were parked in the lot and I thought nothing of them, I figured that they belonged to Systems Engineers working late. I pulled up to the door and got out of my car. As I stepped out of my car I saw that the headlights were on in the white truck, and a couple of men were sitting in the truck, its engine idling. The parking lot was otherwise deserted, and I could think of no good reason for them to be sitting there. I rushed into the building because I thought that would be quicker than trying to unlock my car door, start the engine, and trying to reverse out of my space (the truck was almost directly behind me).
I quickly slipped through the door and closed it behind me. I put my access card into the reader and typed in my password. It did not work. I tried again. And then again. I then stepped back into the hallway, illuminated in the truck's headlights. I went to the second floor and tried the reader for every door; none of them would give me access. I waited about ten minutes, then went back downstairs, the truck was still sitting there, and I was standing in the hallway. I looked all around the hallway, the mailroom off the bathrooms, etc and found that there was no phone. No phone for security. No public phone to call the police. I looked at truck again, and the men had turned off their headlights, but were still sitting out there.
I realized that I was trapped inside the building, with no access to the phone. I had three options open:
1.) to wait until they left -- I would had no way to be sure that they were gone, even if they moved the truck -- and they had already been there for some time
2.) pull the fire alarm -- not something I relished the idea of
3.) make a dash for the car
I chose undesirable option number 3, I made it to my car, stuck my key in the ignition, and made it out in record time. Once I arrived home (twenty minutes later), I called the police and they said they would send a car to the parking lot.
I do not know if the police found the people or not. I do not know if the people in the truck were just waiting to be the first one's in line at the Cafe Open. I do know that I have had trouble before with the card readers -- I do not think they are reliable -- and that if you can not get into our area, the only way to get help is pulling a fire alarm. I called security this morning and they said my badge should have worked fine and that the trouble must have been with the readers. And my badge did work fine the previous day (Sunday) when I typed in my password.
- Name withheld to protect the feeble
What the sender didn't realize was that the truck was the cleaning crew. This is the response sent by someone that was obviously trying to foster the paranoia of the originator:
I have a weird story to share with you.....
Last night, at about a quarter of eleven, I drove into the parking lot and headed towards the entrance of the building facing away from Democracy Blvd. I dropped by in my white truck after a late dinner at the Hamlet because I forgot my wallet. When I got back to the car I realized that I had left my car keys at my desk. All of a sudden a plum colored Honda Civic came screeching up next to me. A really shady looking guy got out, looked around suspiciously and ran frantically to the door and went inside.
I turned on my head lights so I could see who it was. I waited a couple of minutes because I was afraid to go inside. But then I saw this guy peering out around a corner staring at me (he had these really beady eyes like Michael Meyers in Halloween). Then he ran over to the elevator and then he ran back, two or three times, like he was trying to hide so I wouldn't see him when I went in. When he wasn't staring at me he seemed to be muttering and looking around for something - something to attack me with, no doubt! I didn't know what to do. My keys were inside with this creepy guy running around.
I realized that I was trapped outside the building, with no access to a phone. I had three options open:
1) Lock my doors and wait until he left -- which wouldn't have been too bad because then I'd be the first one in line when the Cafe Opened in the morning!
2) Get out of the car and run like hell, not something I relished doing considering I have agoraphobia,
3) Run inside and pull the fire alarm before he had a chance to render me unconscious, or worse.....
Finally, after about fifteen minutes the guy came running out of the building right at me. I feared for the worst, but at the last second he veered and ran right by me and then jumped in his car and speed off. When I got home I called security. They told me it was most likely just one of the cleaning guys and that I probably shouldn't drink so much when I get behind the wheel. Well, no harm was done that a little dry cleaning couldn't fix, but there's a bigger lesson to be learned here. When you come to the office late at night, be prepared for anything!
- Name withheld to protect the tormentor