A Good Time…For A While

I had been assigned to supervise the civilian security staff at the new library on campus and we were still a week away from the grand opening, allowing the public inside. But, for one day, we needed to have the doors open for library staff to enter and exit for trainings being held throughout the day. Now sure, we put up “Library Closed to the Public” signs, but the doors were electronic and simply opened with the motion detectors. And we couldn’t put security staff at the entrances because they were in training, too; nine hours of “Verbal Judo.” So much fun. So another police officer and I each sat at an entrance to direct the unauthorized back outside, but we were allowed to be in plainclothes. So there I was, in my business casual Hawaiian shirt and black slacks, gun and badge on my belt.

I was sitting at a security kiosk, saying good morning to the staff I recognized, asking for ID from the staff that I didn’t, and directing members of the public back out of the building, in a polite and friendly manner. Late morning, and no one had come in the door for a while when a guy about my age (we’ll say early 40s at this time) comes in, walking right past the “closed” sign, and says, “So is it open, now?”

“No,” I smile. “We’re still closed to the public. We needed to have the doors open for staff to access the building today. I’m asking members of the public to exit the building.”

“Oh, can I look around?”

I sigh. It had been slow. “You can look around for a couple of minutes, but I can’t let you past this kiosk,” I say, being extra nice.

“Oh, thanks.” The guy mills about the lobby in front of me and I’m able to watch him because there’s no one else around.

A couple minutes later, a young woman, we’ll say she’s in her late 20s, early 30s, walks right past the “closed” sign and asks, “Are you open today?”

“No,” I smile. “We’re still closed to the public. We needed to have the doors open for staff to access the building today. I’m asking members of the public to exit the building.”

“Oh, can I look around from here? Like him?”

Dammit. “Sure, for a couple of minutes.”

The guy came over and started a conversation with the young woman, both talking excitedly about the new library. I watched their meet-cute as it travelled about the lobby until they began to move past the security kiosk. It was completely apparent that the guy was more interested in the woman than the library and it was just as apparent that she more interested in the library, than him. I could tell that he had no shot. I directed them back behind the invisible line I had imposed and they moved back. But it didn’t take long for them to encroach just a little bit more. It had been ten minutes at this point that they had been in the building. I felt that I had been nice enough.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I do have to ask you to exit the building,” I told them, with a smile and a pleasant, apologetic tone. But the response was not what I was expecting.

“Well, that was rude!” the guy said. Clearly, by his extreme reaction, he was being cock-blocked and he needed to take some control. Redeem himself in her eyes.

“Yes, you are being very rude,” the woman added.

That was it. I stood up, pulled my badge from my belt and showed it to them. “Be that as it may, I still need to ask you to exit the building.”

They began to argue with me and question my authority until I explained that I was a police officer and that if they did not leave, I would arrest them and take them to jail. They left. Grousing every step of the way.

I went back to sitting at my kiosk, when about twenty minutes later, I received a phone call. The shift supervisor told me that a man and a woman had come in to file a complaint against me for being rude. He asked them what had happened and they explained things pretty much exactly as it had happened and finished their tale with my unprofessional level of rudeness. The shift supervisor said that he told them that I had been nice, just letting them into the building in the first place, that he would have directed them to leave immediately, like he was supposed to. He then accepted their written complaints against both me and the shift supervisor.

I never heard anything else, so I don’t know what the resolution of the complaints were, probably “Unfounded.”

And I learned my lesson.

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