30 January 2013

Not In My Job Description

I used to install security systems for Brinks, as a sub-contractor.  My friend Danny J. got me started doing it and I would do two installs a day.  I'd begin about 7:30 in the morning and finish up ten or twelve hours later.  

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.

"Oh, he's black, six-foot-three and big--about three hundred pounds.  If he shows up you run him off."

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.

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