Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Our City's Finest

At 4 pm today, I found out that I was a criminal suspect. How come no one told me? Let me backtrack................

Last June a co-worker was organizing a baby shower for another co-worker. She had been collecting money to buy pizza for the party, and kept it in her desk drawer. Her office, like everyone's is behind a locked door for safety and security reasons. The public and clients have no access to our offices unless "buzzed in" by reception. Normally, she locked her drawer at the end of the day, but on this particular day..........2 days before the shower, she neglected to do so. The money was stolen. About 100 bucks. Gone. Strange, sad and true.

The police were notified and they quickly went into steaming hot pursuit of the thief. NOT! Two weeks passed, and then all of a sudden they asked for a written statement from the co-worker victim, and a list of individuals who worked in the vicinity of said victim's desk. Like any effective office environment, rumours ran rampant. Who could've stolen the money? Could it have been the cleaning staff? What staff from other parts of the building were loitering in and around the victim's vicinity? Who could be that petty to steal pizza money for a baby shower? The victim felt violated and angry that such a thing could happen. She trusts everyone. This malicious act, in her mind, trounced her belief in people. It verged on histrionics, but I kept quiet about my opinion.

In the meantime..................possibly our city's finest checked the building's security cameras, and the staff security passes which would indicate if anyone had entered the building after hours. Who knows? What we do know is that some of the staff on the list began to get phone calls from the police station requesting to take Polygraph tests! Yes! 3 hour polygraph interogations were in order to solve this nasty heinous crime. I was never contacted, but you can be sure that I heard about this crazy police investigation and the anxiety it caused.

Day after day, I counselled and listened. That's my job. I tried to show them the absurdity of it. I cracked jokes about what someone could buy with 100 loonies. I soothed, cajoled and rolled my eyes in private. But, as soon as I thought we were making headway and forgetting about the unfortunate mess, Detective Keener Polygraph Guy would leave another voicemail. The decibel level in the office would increase. Morning discussions throughout the summer hinged on trying to solve the crime. 2 months after the theft, one of my co-workers received a request to meet in the Keener's interogation room, where she told him that she would "give her life" for anyone of her co-workers whom, some of whom she had worked with for over 30 years. And you know, I believe her. She is the purest, most innocent woman I have ever met. She'd have a funeral for a fly if she knew she had killed it. She couldn't sleep for the week before her interogation because it was the first time she had set foot in the Police Station.

So, today, I was asked to attend a meeting to hear the results. Predictably, the day was full of more rumours discussed, decreased productivity, increased emotions for my co-workers. I carried on with my day which kept my mind occupied and oblivious to the anxiety level until 4pm. Turns out the investigation is closed. Lack of leads. Lack of funds. And, I was on "the list." Emotions burst forth and spewed out at Management for "allowing" this crazy interogation to happen. It was messy. And, I sat there stunned. I had been on the list?

All of a sudden, I felt different. All of a sudden, I was thinking.................people were wondering about me stealing? How often was the finger pointed at me and I didn't even know? How had I missed out on this piece of information. Why wasn't I called to the Keener interogation room if I was a suspect? I've always wanted to see what a real polygraph system looks like. What techniques would Keener have used on me? Finger nail pulling......bright lights in the eyes........water torture.....sleep deprivation? How anxious would I have felt answering his inane questions? People thought I was guilty? It's amazing how quickly one can go from calm to paranoid!

And as the meeting came to a close, and everyone else had calmed down and resolved their stuff, I left all riled up over the ramifications of being on a Police short list. It'll be a long time before another baby shower pizza party will be organized by this team of staff.

"When the whole world is crazy and everyone is out to get you, paranoia just makes good sense."

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