I once got the chance to patrol a graveyard on a Halloween night. I know, I know! The excitement! The prestige! Where do I go to apply for a keen job like that? Sadly, the unemployment office.
When an unethical manager had pulled the cube-drone carpet out from underneath me, I had found temporary employment with a security-guard company. They had placed me at a St. Joseph’s Hospital as a glorified ‘Lollipop Lady’ crossing guard. I didn’t even get to wear an orange, don’t-run-me-down vest.
The hospital had two, parallel, one-way driveways down one side. Traffic came in on one, swung around past Receiving and the kitchens, and exited on the other. Work on water mains had them alternatively dug up for about a week.
We stationed a guard at the front and the back, with portable radios. If a vehicle came in, the guard at the back held any outgoing traffic until the single lane was clear, and vice versa. Out of sight of any street traffic, the guard at the back could rest in a lawn chair until called. We alternated every hour….until the Mother Superior looked out the window, and decided that that wasn’t fair, and decreed that no-one could rest.
It was especially busy late in the morning, because they had a Meals On Wheels program. Civilian volunteers picked up a few meals each and delivered them. We wouldn’t want them smashing into each other, and spilling all that delicious hospital food.
As Halloween approached, and I still hadn’t found suitable employment, the scheduler asked me if I would consider patrolling a graveyard, from 6PM till 2AM that night to prevent any vandalism or skullduggery.
The hospital sat in the middle of a long stretch of main road that didn’t have any cross-streets. The Catholic cemetery behind the hospital (where the doctors buried their mistakes) extended back to the next road. Two pedestrian-access walkways converged through it in a V, toward the hospital.
Another guard and I followed each other around the block-long legs of the triangle. It never occurred to us to patrol in opposite directions, to stop and talk, and compare notes occasionally. All went well for the first couple of hours – until the sun set.
That’s when we discovered that there were no street lights on the adjoining road, no light-posts within the cemetery, and no lights between the hospital and the cemetery. It was a typical cloudy Halloween night…. it was pitch-black DARK back there, and nobody thought to give us flashlights.
At about 9:30, I had emerged from one of the exits, and was walking toward the other, when I saw three 15/16-year-old males enter ahead of me. While it was light, I had found a two-foot piece of 1½ inch PVC electrical conduit on the path – a tripping hazard, especially in the dark, so I picked it up, and was carrying it, just in case.
I could hear them walking, and conversing, a hundred feet ahead of me in the Stygian gloom, although I couldn’t make out the words. Then it got quiet. Often, that’s not a good thing. Suddenly, something smacked into the gravestone beside me. Something whizzed past my ear. Something struck the grass beside me! Holy Crap, those little f**kers are throwing things at me.
I ducked behind a nearby gravestone, and the barrage continued. Something bounced off the gravestone beside me. I felt around in the dark, and found a pulped crab apple. CLANG! That wasn’t a crab apple that hit my cover. More crab apples, splat, whiz, then, another CLANG off the tombstone next to me. The moon, through a slight rift in the clouds, revealed a sharp stone, as big as a golf ball.
What in Hell am I going to do??! We don’t have our traffic-directing radios, and if this keeps up, my fellow-guard is going to walk around the corner any moment, right into the middle of this.
“It’s okay, Bobby. You can come out now. We won’t throw anything else at you.” I’m not Bobby! “Who the hell are you?” I’m the security guard who’s supposed to keep you from damaging anything. Are you idiots??! Throwing crab apples is dangerous enough, but throwing rocks at someone you can’t see, or identify – in the dark…. You could blind or kill someone! “Sorry, we didn’t think.” Said every teenage boy ever, just before he qualified for the Darwin Award.
Patrolling a graveyard on Halloween is an…. interesting task. Ghosts and ghouls don’t exist, so they’re no problem. It’s the live ones who cause all the troubles. 😯
Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat. 😀