The Branch Manager Came at Midnight

The Branch Manager of the new security company came at midnight.  This followed three hours of phone calls to various supervisors of the company.  It followed a visit from one supervisor when I demanded that the guard leave the premises immediately.  I then told the company they were fired and I would sit out for the night and guard.  I was feeling distraught.  I am not nuts.  Here is what happened.

If you have been following the last two weeks, you know I hired a new company, a well known, international company, that guards embassies.  It's also very expensive.  But the embassy guarding types were not who they sent to Shishur Sevay.  It has been an ongoing nightmare, in the truest sense.  The final last night was that I went outside at 9 pm to lock the gate into the house and saw a NEW guard I'd not seen before.  Just hours before I'd met with the supervisor who assured me that the two guards that were behaving would be continuing.  Now, two hours later, a new face.  So I asked, "what is your name?"  There was silence as he just stared at me.  I asked again, with no response.  Then I saw the lanyard of an ID tag, with the tag tucked into his shirt.  I said, "Where is your ID?"  He points to his shirt.  I say, "let me see your ID" and he points to his shirt again.  I insisted and finally slowly he pulls out his ID and shows it to me.  It has a name and a picture… of another guard.  I ask his name and he tells me the same name as on the ID.  I tell him this is not his card or his name, and ask who the hell he is!  He hasn't even signed in to our register book, but he has signed in to his company's book, with his real name.  (I finally got him to produce his student ID card).  This was really the last straw, and he was strange, and I didn't want him here.  He had no deployment order and I hadn't screened him, which had been our agreement.  I learned later the supervisor didn't know he was coming, that another guard who was expected had called and asked him to cover, and then yet another guard had given him the ID and told him to keep it tucked in his shirt, that I wouldn't notice.

Maybe these are the people who guard the embassies — even worse to think about.

Over the last two weeks with the new company, I have found them sleeping.  Last Sunday morning at 8 am I found a strange man and woman wandering through my office… the guard had simply taken their names and sent them in.  I still don't know why they really came, as their story did not ring true and I would not have let them through the gate, much less into the house.

Yet another guard caused a commotion with one of the Dadas, who accused him of taking his picture with his cell phone.  The guard insisted he was just taking a picture of the rabbits.  It was shift change and I didn't think fast enough to check, but I thought about it later and was angry that the guard was taking pictures at all!  Maybe the Dada was right, or maybe the pic was of rabbits, or maybe this guard was also taking pics of the girls.  All I know is that the guard was making trouble instead of easing trouble.

The Dadas have been quiet, maybe even amused at the trouble.  But they are not interfering, for which I am grateful.

The Branch Manager asked if he could visit so late, and came.  To all these people I am somehow "Mother" or in this case, "Mother Harrison."  I have talked with him on the phone many times and have sent him emails documenting all.  He is new and trying to get control of what is going on, and seemed grateful that I would talk.  He explained to the supervisor that "Mother Harrison is used to seeing our guards all over the world so she expects that kind of security guard."  I said I understood Shishur Sevay was very small and I totally understood if we were too small an account for them, but they needed to tell me so.  No, they are committed to guard Embassies and Shishur Sevay.  This morning's guard is good.  The Branch Manager also instructed that I have names and phone numbers of their officials all the way up.  Of course I am hopeful.   Before leaving, he looked around at my walls and said, "One thing is missing, a Cross."  I said I am not Christian, that I am Jewish, and that this is an Indian home where we celebrate all the pujas and the girls take care of the Gods.

For me it has sort of become a challenge, "Can I find good security in Kolkata?"  I am planning a cctv set up of the front gate, but the engineer didn't show yesterday…

I have so much work that isn't getting done.  I also have a cracked tooth with only low level chronic pain.  An earlier dentist wanted to pull it.  I found a new dental place and they said they could save it with root canal, post and crown.  So yesterday I started root canal.  I thought about how much work I had, and how much stress I have, and I decided that the dental chair was respite.  I wouldn't be able to relax at a spa.  If I tell the girls I'm going to the dentist they tend to be better behaved while I am away… So, there I was, relaxing in the dental chair, having my root canal.

The girls are fine, great really.  Next week they dress up in school in various professions.  This year we will do, lawyer, doctor, teacher, politician, woman army officer.  Next week also is Holi, and this year I promise pictures.  And Monday afternoon I get respite again in the dental chair.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rhitwick
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 12:20:37

    hi Michelle,
    have been following your blog for sometime now . you might not remember me but we met once for a brief period in swabhumi when u had brought your children sometime around last durga puja . i keep drawing inspiration from your blogs and realise how trivial my own problems are to that of yours . know for sure tht u provide inspiration to people in more ways thn u might realise !


  2. Travelingcloud
    Mar 12, 2009 @ 14:56:04

    Thanks, and remember for each of us our problems still have to be managed, they are central to our lives even if they seem trivial. I’m happy to be an inspiration. I was inspired by many too.


  3. ali coffman
    May 08, 2009 @ 02:52:30

    Dear Michelle, Hi!
    My name is Ali and in 1999 we adopted our daughter from IMH. I have always kept Massi “Urmila” close in my thoughts, though attempts to contact her at IMH were unsuccessful. I was told that perhaps she might be there? Your response to this question would be greatly appreciated.
    Many blessings to you in your work there!
    Best Regards


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March 2009
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