Wednesday, October 04, 2006


This one was a doozy. Ages ago, when the weather was a lot warmer (although this week is going to be warm as well - the heat draws them out) I was sitting there on front counter watching a one day international, in short, having a very quiet day. Then the day exploded and shattered into a thousand pieces. The lessons it taught me were that the duress alarms aren't really worth a lot.

The day was passing, albeit slowly, but passing all the same when a hurricane thundered through the door. I'm not a small guy but I was dwarfed by this one. He was a good six foot six or seven and about the same across his chest. He wore shorts and shoes and that was about it. Very large and looking very nasty. He stormed to the counter and slammed a card down on the desk and roared,
"Who the f*ck gives you the right to tell me what to f*ckin' do??" I looked blank and behind me I heard the sounds of the door not only closing as my co-worker left the scene but also the tell-tale sounds of the door being locked. Great. He screamed once more,
"I said, 'Who the f*ck'..."
"Yes, I heard you. Please, calm down and let's see what the problem is."
"The problem?? THE F*CKING PROBLEM IS YOU C*NTS!!!" I could see this was going nowhere so I hit the duress buttons.

Now the duress buttons/alarms are connected to police services and once we hit them the police are supposed to roll straight out. Doesn't always happen. If there's a car in the area with only one cop in it they won't arrived. Cop OHS says that two cops need to be there at any given time, one won't cut the mustard. Also you're at the mercy of how far away the cars might be, or if there's another crime going down or if Dunkin Donuts is having a run out sale. For the time being I was on my own and I knew it. No-one was coming to help, I was trapped with no way out. I decided to negotiate.
"I can't help if I don't know what you're talking about."
"This!! I'm talking about this!!" He pointed to a card. Slowly the pieces fell into place. He was a tenant and his lawn needed mowing, nothing more, nothing less. It appears that a HM was in the area on unrelated business and saw the jungle and just put a little card in the letterbox reminding him that, under the rules of his lease with us, he needed to maintain the gardens. As simple as that. He wasn't getting evicted over it, just a reminder, 'Mate, can you please mow your lawn sometime this month?' A declaration of war if ever there was one.
"All that says is that we'd like you to mow your lawn. We can even lend you a lawnmower if you want."
"Technically it's not your house, it's ours. You're only renting it." As soon as I said that I sensed it was the wrong thing to say. He went purple.
"GET THAT F*CKIN' C*NT OUT HERE NOW!" By this time I thought, I'm dead, so who cares?
"What f*ckin' c*nt? We have a few." I thought he'd pop. Then I kept going. "R---, mate. Look, I've pressed the alarms. In about five minutes the cops will be here. Now I'm thinking you've probably got active warrants and as such you don't want to be here when they're here. Just go and we'll forget the whole thing ever happened." He stopped and went quiet as he processed the information.
"You really pressed the alarms?" I pressed them again.
"Yep. I'm pressing them again now mate. Cops are on the way. I can hear the sirens already." I couldn't, but hey, if you're going to bluff then make it good.
"F*ckin' a*sehole."
"Yep." By this time he was moving away. He turned and stormed out the door.
"I'LL BE BACK YOU F*CKIN' C*NT!! JUST WAIT AND SEE!! I'LL F*CKING KNIFE YOU, YOU C*NT!!" Sure, sure, whatever, just leave. He kicked the glass out the door and ranted for a bit more, outside, then he left.

The doors opened and out came some people. The usual 'you alright' was thrown around but I was far from alright. It wasn't the bad guy, it was the fact that my co-workers had locked me out there with him. They knew of him and the minute they saw him they wanted no part of it because he's threatened to kill people previously. Lovely. A bit of warning wouldn't have gone astray.

Eventually the cops arrived and asked what happened. Then they asked who it was.
"Hmmmmm yeah, __________. We know where he lives so we'll go and grab him anyway. You say he threatened to stab you? Did you see a knife?"
"A knife? No. Why?
"Because he has form for stabbing people. That's his trick, he stabs them and leaves them to bleed. In fact he helps them bleed by kicking the crap out of them after he's stabbed them." Oh joy.

I finished my shift and came home. I've not seen the guy since, thankfully, and hopefully he's rotting in gaol where he belongs. The lessons it did teach me were that eventually the cops will arrive and not to depend on your co-workers. There's a few whom I know that, if it started to go down, would be there and help as best they can, but there's a lot more who'll talk the talk but lock the door behind them to save their own bacon.

Oh, and for those keeping count? Nope, I was given absolutely zero counseling for that. I was back out on counter the next day and dealing with it on my own. Counseling wasn't offered and when I spoke about the situation all I got was, "Jeez, you're lucky he didn't jump the counter and deck you. He's done that before." Very reassuring indeed.


Anonymous said...

just another day in the life huh?

Foilwoman said...

Um, do you want a job in a library? Not a public library, where guys like your "client" (cough, wheeze, upchuck sounds) looks up legal defenses and the like, but a nice private corporate library, where the worst request you'll get will be "Where do you have the Business Weeks?"

Chade said...

You must be the wrong gender.

Anonymous said...

geezus christ. Why dont your colleagues come and support you?

The Regional Support Clerk said...

Some colleagues will come and support you. Some (and I'll admit I am one of these) will come out if someone's screaming and yelling in order to offer some physical support and also to deflect abuse and perhaps diffuse the situation. However there are some who'll walk away, ignore what's happening and thank God it's not happening to them. Later they'll offer up some words of 'comfort' and say about how they knew that person was going to go mental because they've done it before. Thanks for the heads-up I guess. The ratio of those who will and won't help is about 30-70, in that order.

We are told not to help if things get out of order, but to leave quickly and that's it. Safety first - a rule I often ignore when it comes to work colleagues.