The Blind Leading The Blind

, , , , , | Working | April 29, 2019

Two companies share buildings; I work for one of the companies. My company always works late, so my company always closes the building. There is still a way to get in and out with assigned badges, so it’s not much of a deal.

One day, the other company decides to host a conference for people who are sight-impared. Of course, we don’t mind, but the issue starts when the organisation comes to my office and claims they have the conference scheduled there. The lady in charge even huffs and puffs until it becomes clear she is on the wrong side of the building. We blame it on stress and the lady moves on, not giving apologies or anything of the like.

The guests arrive, first one by one and then a whole flock. The flock of guests are chatting and don’t notice they are entering the building through sliding doors. A few almost get stuck between the doors, but our safety system prevents that. The lady in charge of the organisation is nowhere to be found to help these people.

Eventually, it is decided the guests will take one of the service stairways because that is the shortest route. It has an automatic, glass door on the top which you need to open with a button. I ask the — finally located — lady in charge if they would help their guests upstairs, since I have to continue my work and they don’t have a contract with us but with the other company. “Of course!” they say. After 15 minutes, a loud clanging noise is heard throughout the building. I decide to check things out.

In order to keep the door open — so they don’t have to be present at the door — the lady has put a chair in front of the sensor. This way, whenever the door wants to close, it gets “startled” by the chair and opens quickly again, slamming against the metal construction on the side. I remove the chair. Clearly, the lady thought this wouldn’t do any harm. We will now have to wait and see if the door sustained any damage.

Then, a few people with worse eyesight enter, and they need to use the elevator. This wasn’t mentioned to the owner of the other office. That part doesn’t have an elevator; ours does. The lady in charge asks, “Can they use your elevator?” We say, “Of course! But will there be someone to take them to the conference room?” The lady replies, “I will be escorting them personally.”

About ten minutes later, my manager comes with one of the guests who apparently took a wrong turn and ended up in our office. I check the elevator; the lady in charge is nowhere to be found, and a few guests are looking around helplessly.

Finally, all guests have arrived, and at closing time, I closed the office. I go to the owner of the other office and express my worries about how the guests will have to leave the building. Will they see the green button they’ll have to push? Considering the track record, I doubt the lady in charge of the organisation will help them. I explain to the owner how the doors can be opened permanently and how to close them — it’s a few buttons. He says he will be there.

But of course — we don’t know how — someone strays away from the group and, when trying to leave the building, they press the red emergency stop. This means the doors will stop moving until they are reset manually. Since the doors are closed, this means they no longer open. We don’t know who did it since all guests are accounted for. We guess someone went back upstairs and didn’t mention it.

I notice this on my way out and reset the doors. I wish the owner a lot of luck with this conference and tell him who to contact if something else goes wrong. The owner confides to me that he will never host this conference again. The guests are lovely; the organisation is an utter mess.

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