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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not Your Typical Day at the Office!

This VOB is a little different from the usual stream-of-consciousness rantings and ramblings. Today we are treated to the work of a guest columnist, Dave, a friend and former co-worker of Bruck. Dave submits the following dispatch of valor and courage, detailing the apprehension of the (alleged) perepetrator of a one-man crime spree. The situation is described in Dave’s own words, with some minor editing by Bruck to remove any potentially identifiable details (names have been changed...).

It was nearly 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday. I was working at my desk, when I saw a man dressed neatly in an oxford and dark pants peer cautiously around the edge of my cube wall. When he realized that I'd seen him, he approached and asked to use my stapler. "Sure," I replied in a somewhat hesitant tone. He withdrew from the cube area for a moment, but I could hear the clank of the stapler coming from the area near Rob's desk. He returned it, thanked me, and went on his way. A few moments later, and still suspicious, I got up to see if he was still around. As I approached Rob's desk, I noticed his stapler was in plain sight. I glanced around at the office supply desk and noticed two other staplers readily accessible.

I walked out into the hallway outside our suite of offices to see if the man was visible, but I spied only a security guard walking past in the intersecting hallway. I approached him and told him that I saw someone in the building whom I didn't recognize, who had behaved suspiciously. The guard replied, "Well, there's lots of new people in the building," and continued on his way. Turning back, I walked through the cube areas of our suite and again saw the man. I approached him, and I think I asked him who he was in the building to see (or perhaps what his business was in the building). Now we were positioned in an open area with people. Garry, Greg, and Dale were visible and within earshot.

I said something to Garry to bring attention to this mysterious individual, but I don't recall the specific details. Garry then asked him if he had a company badge or a visitor's pass. He replied "no," to both. He then claimed he was here to meet Mike M. Both Dale and Greg, who were sitting at their desks, entered the name Mike M. name into the CDSID application. No current employee of that name did anyone of us know, and none showed up in the CDSID system as a resident of the RIC. The man then claimed that he came with others who were in the lobby, or that he originated in the lobby, or some such tale. None of it made much sense. Garry then suggested that we go down to the lobby to try to corroborate his story. Garry asked me to accompany them.

On the way down the elevator, we were getting more stories about who he worked for, what he was doing in the building, that he worked for a non-profit company, MAAT or something, that they were looking for funds, that he came on the shuttle, etc. When we arrived in the lobby, there was no one there to verify his story. We continued to try to understand his explanation, but at one point, a man Garry knew walked by, and Garry discreetly asked him to notify building security. The mystery man asked why were waiting in the lobby, and Garry answered he was waiting for his supervisor.

After about five minutes, a security guard arrived, and began questioning the man. The security guard requested ID, which was provided. Glancing at the mystery man's wallet, I noticed other driver's licenses behind the one that was presented. I asked the man for his cell phone number. He asked why I wanted it, before grudgingly reading out the digits. (I hoped that a record of a phone call might provide a lead as to the identity of this man). I walked into library where a woman sat behind the desk, the phone receiver at her ear. I asked in an urgent tone if I could make a call. She had a startled look on her face, but after a pause, she hung up the phone, and handed me the receiver. I dialed the number, and the mystery man promptly answered. I hung up, and returned to the lobby.

The security guard directed a few more questions at the man, then Garry asked the guard if he needed us for anything further. He replied no, and we re-entered the building. Garry proceeded to the cafeteria. I went back up to the building services office and told the security guard there was a situation in the lobby that required his attention. I then returned to my desk, grabbed my lunch tote, and headed to the atrium.

Later from the atrium table, I could see many more security guards present in the main lobby. Later, Ryan told me several local police officers had arrived and were 'interviewing' the man in a nearby conference room.

About an hour after lunch, a police officer and security supervisor showed up at my desk. Garry and I were interviewed by the police and security supervisor about the details surrounding our experiences.

Later, I received an email from a company security investigator. He was very appreciative of our actions. He said he had been after this guy for a year, and had footage of the guy using stolen employee credit cards at various stores in the surrounding area. The investigator provided a link to the OTIS system (criminal database) showing us who the guy was and his considerable criminal record.

(A little background: credit cards were being lifted from wallets, jackets, purses, etc., in cubicles in Dave’s building over the last year or so, and then being used in various local businesses until being cancelled. The fellow apprehended is a suspect in these crimes, but of course we must observe that tedious legal principle of presumption of innocence.)

In addition to the appreciation of the local gendarmes, Dave and his colleagues received a personal commendation from the Vice President for their efforts in helping apprehend the (alleged) credit card thief. That would be their division VP, not the honorable Mr. Richard “Buckshot” Cheney.

Okay, time to put on the waders; we’re going in a little deeper:

“Perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, victims: we can be clear about three of these categories. The bystander, however, is the fulcrum. If there are enough notable exceptions, then protest reaches a critical mass. We don’t usually think of history as being shaped by silence, but, as English philosopher Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’” [Henrik Hudson School Library Media Centre] (Sorry I can’t find a more specific citation for the whole quotation.)

I offer the preceding story as a suitable anthesis for Mr. Burke’s dreary prescription.


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