30 January 2013
Not In My Job Description
I'd eat a sack lunch in my van while driving between jobs. I worked by myself . Brinks paid me $100 per system install and $10 to $20 per extra sensor beyond the basic package. The basic package was three door sensors, one motion detector, one siren, one keypad, the alarm panel, and power transformer and a telephone connection.
Tlhere was no wireless. All the systems I put in were hardwired. I drilled a lot of holes, pulled a lot of wire and crawled a lot of attics and crawlspaces.
This was back in the 80's and on a good day I would make $250. I remember I completed three jobs on one day and each job had three or four extras and I made over $500. But I worked until 11:30 that night.. Most of the jobs I did for Brinks were residential.
So let me tell you a story of one house. It was a bungelow style home built in the 1930's on a residential street in northeast Portland. I remember old large leafy over-arching trees (sycamores?) on this street. It belonged to a forty-ish black woman. It was my first job of the day and it was sunny and springtime. I did a walk-through with the woman to determine sensor locations and to do some initial paperwork. She wore glasses and was dressed in a jacket and matching skirt and was employed by the State of Oregon doing some kind of office job. And she wanted to go to work while I installed the system.
This was not uncommon. Quite a few of my customers would run errands or shop or go to work. I arranged to call her a half-hour before I finished so she could return for the final signings and instructions on the use of her new system. She wrote down her work number and was about to leave when I asked her if she was expecting any vistors.
I asked this because I didn't know who belonged to the house. Some child or neighbor or stranger could wander in and pretend to live there and I wouldn't know enough to challenge them.
This woman had a son but he would be at school all day, but she also had an ex-husband who sometimes dropped by unannounced.
"His name is Walter and he is not sujpposed to come anywhere near my house or my work place. I've got a restraining order," she said.
"What does he look like?" I asked.
I said, "Ma'am, if I see Walter coming I'm going to throw my tools in the van and get out of here."
She laughed and left for work and I finished the job without incident.