Ryan Sayles' amusing story about a rather self-important hospital security guard
The Hospital Authority took away our TASERs. Too many mishaps. The local PD said we couldn't carry handcuffs. Said I used them too much. Obviously they haven't seen my record.
I'm also entrusted with the safety and security of three hundred beds, over four hundred staff, two parking garages, four surface parking lots, a total of twelve floors of medical treatment facilities spread across three buildings.
I am the first and last line of defense here. Sometimes the cops come when we call, sometimes they don't. And when a patient with dementia doesn't know why he's here and wants to leave, I have to intervene. No cop will arrive as my back up. They don't have the stones and that's fine with me. Not everyone is built to do my job. I fly solo. I am the thin blue line here. My castle.
So, right now I'm stationed at the Emergency Department entrance. Department, not room. Got it? People call it the ER and I correct them. Part of my job.
Family member: "My husband was just in a car wreck and the ambulance took him here to the emergency room. Is he OK?"
Me, defending my castle: "Emergency department, ma'am."
Me: "Department. Not a room. It's so much more than just a single room."
Family, crying now over being chastised: "I don't care! My husband might be dying! The wreck was terrible and -"
Me: "Ma'am, I'll let you back there, not a problem. But see how they have Emergency Department in big letters along the wall here?"
Family, shouting: "Of course I see it! I don't care!"
Me: "Lower your tone ma'am. I'll not have the nurses being subjected to shouting."
Family: "I'm going inside. You're a jerk."
Me, just doing my job: "Ma'am, I see on the security camera here you're parked out on the patient drop-off."
Me: "You need to move it. Now. The next patient will need it and here you are, hogging it up. Be a team player, and stop being so selfish. Go on."
They pay me the big bucks to do the hard job. And believe me, the hard job comes easy to guys like me. I'm not saying I'm a Navy SEAL, I'm just saying I might as well be.
So, here in the ED – that's what we in the business call the Emergency Department – and an employee comes in. I know the dude. White guy. Beard. Late thirties. Some kind of respiratory therapist who gets assigned to the ED on a regular enough basis. I keep my ear pressed up against the dingy toilet stall of the rumor mill, because in those seedy hangouts the rumor mill will talk. And the rumor mill says two things about this guy: number one, he's a sex-fiend, and number two, he has a chicken farm.
I stand up, give him my full height. My broad shoulders. Adonis, the Gatekeeper of their workplace.
"Hey," I say, as deep and testosterone-y as I can. "How's it going, friend?"
The dude looks at me and beams. "I'm ecstatic. I'm telling everybody. My wife is pregnant. We get to have a baby."
"I see. I hear this is number three for you?"
Huh. The rumor mill needs to tell the truth more often. Sex fiend, indeed.
"Well, if you don't mind I need to talk with you later." I want some farm-fresh eggs, but he doesn't need to know that until I have him where I want him and drop that bomb. Helps me control the conversation.
"Sure," he says. Too easy. "I'll be in the ED all night."
See. Even he knows to call it the ED.
"I'll come find you." That's my trademark slogan. I'll come find you. People know I will. It's what I do. Like Schwarzenegger saying "I'll be back," people know it when they hear it. It defines me. I'm not saying I'm a Terminator, I'm just saying I might as well be.
"OK." The fiend swipes his employee badge, goes inside.
I'll give it some time. I need to do some things.
Forty minutes later and I step out of the john. Had a heater on deck. Time to find the fiend, question him about eggs.
I make my round through the ED. No bearded guy with eight kids. I look inside each room, even if the curtain is pulled. Some patients gasp; ask me if anything is wrong. I don't answer. If something is wrong, I'd be telling them. I don't wait to be asked. That's what I don't like about civilians: since they don't take charge they expect me not to either. Idiots.
I ask the medical staff.
"Doc, where is the respiratory therapist with the beard?"
The doctor is talking to someone else. Rude. "Excuse me, doc. I need to find the -"
The doctor pushes me out of the way, shouting "Activate a Code Blue! Code Blue!"
Code Blue. Heart stopped. This is ridiculous. I need answers. "Doc, listen."
The doctor turns around, her face a scowl like a rabid animal. "You listen, Barney Fife. Go get on your Segway, make sure your crash helmet is on, and write a ticket to someone parked in a fire lane. Get out of here while I am trying to save a life!"
Two of the male nurses place a hand on each of my shoulders. Gently, respectfully, hold me back. If I go off on this foolish PhD right now, it would be a scene. It would take away from the life-saving care this faceless, nameless civilian came here for. I'd be defeating my own purpose; to serve and protect. So I allow these two huge guys to walk me back. It takes a lot of self-control to not prove when I'm right. To not correct such insolence towards just authority.
I'm not saying I'm Buddha, I'm just saying I might as well be.
I make eye contact with that disrespectful woman, say, "I'll come find you," and roll out. Behind me people laugh, no doubt relief as to what was just narrowly avoided.
Time to do this the old-fashioned way. Good detective work. I flip open my note pad and check today's events.
1500 hours – told the white female, blonde and brown, approx. 36 YOA, to move her minivan from the ED drop-off
1504 hours – sent an email to Supervisor Jennings to explain about the newest civilian complaint
1526 hours – told the SF I'd find him later
There it is. SF. Sex Fiend. I pull up the camera system on the computer. Look up the ED security lobby camera, search for 1526 hours. On the video the guy has already gone inside. The camera system's time stamp is different from my watch. I paid a twenty spot for this watch. I have no idea how much a campus-wide video system, computer-controlled and server-backed up costs, but this is BS. Pure, unadulterated BS.
I back up the footage to 1520. At 1524 the fiend walks in. Now, the real work begins.
Using my extensive knowledge of our camera system coverage areas, a little luck and a lot of attention to detail, I backtrack him out the door, down the drop-off, across the street, into a surface lot. There are four possible cars he got out of. The coverage isn't good enough to see exactly which one; too grainy. I go to ground.
When I get to the lot I check my notes on the four cars he could have come from. Three of them are still here. I have a friend across town, works as a dispatcher for a dinky town police department.
I call. "Timmy, you at work tonight?"
Timmy, my lifeline here, says, "Does a Crystal-bladed Sword of Arranon the Mighty do 18 hit points of damage and add 4 to manna regeneration?"
"Got you," I say. This guy is solid as a rock. "I need a favor."
"On with it then, my lord, my liege."
"I need to find a guy. I don't know his name. But I know his face. It's etched into my memory, and I could pick him out of a line up. Can you run three plates for me?"
"Can a level 19 Ogre Mage with a necromancer specialty call forth a zombie army that would defeat a Level 21 Huntsman with a spell of Unseen Protection?"
"Sweet. First plate then -"
And we do this.
I get three names. One is a chick, so I blow it off. They shouldn't drive anyways. The others I write down and head into the office. It's technically the security desk at the ED entrance, but I put up my cats calendar and pictures of my four siblings' children. I'll find a wife one day; right now my job consumes my life. It's a calling, not a job. I should label it that. My calling consumes my life. Like PhDs. Except that broad doing the Code Blue. She probably stopped that civilian's heart and then said oops, need a defibrillator.
I'm not saying I'm a doctor, I'm just saying I might as well be.
I pull up the hospital website. Open the A-Z directory. First dude works in maintenance. Not the fiend. The second name, bingo. Respiratory therapy. I write it down in my note pad. Get his department's extension. Dial it.
"Respiratory therapy, this is Joann."
"Supervisor," I say. No wasted words. Too busy for it.
"No, I'm not the supervisor."
"Of course not," I say. Joann is a woman's name. Duh. "Put him on the phone."
"One moment, please. I'm going to put you on hold," she says. Click.
Moron. She hung up on me.
I call back.
"Oh..." she says. "You again."
"Yeah. We got disconnected. The supervisor, please."
"Hang on," she huffs and shouts somebody's name. A dude comes over and takes the phone from her. My trained ears hear this and paints a picture for my trained brain. So I know what's going on. Not everybody can do that, you know.
"Respiratory Therapy, this is Mike."
"Mike, security. Listen, I need to get in touch with Graham Hart, white male, date of birth -"
"Yeah, Graham. Thanks for letting me know he's white."
"Positive identification is what I do." Got him. Detective work always pays off. The truth might be bold in the darkness, but when men like me come around with light, it cowers like the coward it is.
I'm not saying I'm Sherlock Holmes, I'm just saying I might as well be.
Mike continues with his act. "I'm sure positive ID is what you do. Why do you need him?"
"Official business. Where is he?"
"I sent him to unit 25."
"Send him back to the ED."
"There's no respiratory therapy need there. There is a huge need for it on unit 25 tonight."
"So I'm not sending him back to the ER."
"ED, Mike. ED."
"Mike, I order you not to hang up on me. Mike. Mike?"
I could go up to unit 25 and pull aside Graham. Talk about the eggs. But I think that would be creepy. No, I have a better idea. I have official stationary. I'll send Graham a letter with a return receipt. Best to document it with a signature. I call Timmy again; get a records check off Graham. Got a speeding ticket nine years ago. Criminal.
I get his address, but it's not out in the sticks enough to have a chicken farm. I check it against Google Maps. Apartment downtown.The license expires this year, so this must be an old address and he's just waiting out the expiration date to renew it with his current farm address. Criminal. The state gives ten days to update an address after you move. He's in violation of that. In fact, if I didn't know better I'd say he's making his move to go off the grid. I'm not sure I want to buy eggs from a man who is so despicable. If I get caught having a transaction with him now, how would my integrity be affected? And what if I have to take action against him at some future date?
What would Magnum PI do?
The big city, with its big hospital. All of it needing a guardian in the night. A lone wolf whose pack graduated high school and went off to community college, leaving him a lone wolf. But I like it better this way. I keep my friends at arm's length. Better for them as well; in case the deviants I fight against somehow find those closest to me and try to make them pay for my heroism.
That is why they pay me the big bucks. And if I keep up this level of performance, I'll get that bump up to eight dollars an hour they've been promising me for two years now.
God I love me.