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Reading Comprehension Skills: Locked

, , , , | Working | May 2, 2020

I work in my university’s IT department. We manage hardware like microphones and cameras for the staff working in the same building as us. Occasionally, we have issues with customers returning equipment to the adjacent computer lab instead of to us even though we’re open, or simply not returning the equipment if we’re closed.

My coworker, who manages the hardware for our office, decides that he’s had enough, and he puts a sign on our front door. He leaves feeling satisfied, and I don’t think anything of it.

The next day, within ten minutes of unlocking the front door, I watch a customer approach. She stops and stares at the sign for a moment. She looks at me and I put on my customer service smile even though I’m still waking up. She looks back at the sign on the door and looks confused. Then, she turns and walks away.

I think that is odd, but we have people approach to read some of the signs hung up in our window all the time, so I don’t think much about it. A minute later, the woman appears from behind me, asking about buying a laptop. My heart almost stops.

We share office space with the university’s technology store, so the sales representative steps up and begins talking to the customer and mercifully walks her back around the front desk to where the merchandise is set up.

After a moment’s confusion, I look around to the back room and see the door to the computer lab support cubicles open. She went all the way around past the computer lab support desk, went through their office, and tracked down the side door that connected to our office. We typically keep it locked, but apparently, it was not locked this morning.

Baffled, I turn back as the sales representative concludes a pitch.

“Well, I’ll have to think about it,” the customer says, and she begins walking back around the front desk.

The sales representative says, “Um, ma’am, you can go out through the front door.”

“Oh. You keep reminding me, but I keep forgetting.”

With that, she leaves through the front. I give her a moment to leave and then start laughing with the sales representative about how bizarre it was that she went all the way out of her way and snuck in behind us.

After a moment’s thought, I go around and check the new sign on our door. It’s right above the handle so anyone trying to get in would see it.

“If LOCKED, return equipment to computer lab support desk.”

At the bottom, a huge arrow points toward the other desk.

A few minutes later, another coworker approaches, sees the sign, and enters, confused.

“Why does it say our front door is locked?”

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