In times of uncertainty, take your cue from the janitor

Raymond Chen

Raymond

A friend of mine told a story of a time his flight to a foreign country was delayed by several hours, and the flight finally arrived shortly before the airport closed for the night. He retrieved his bags from the baggage carousel and waited for his hosts to come pick him up.

While he waited, the closing time of the airport passed. He was the only person left in the airport, except for a janitor who was busy mopping the floor.

And then there was a commotion at the other end of the baggage claim. A team of police with their weapons drawn scurried into the building, hiding behind walls and other structures, as if they were searching for an armed intruder.

My friend was rather worried at this display of force and wondered what was going on.

Then he looked over at the janitor. The janitor continued to mop the floor, unphased by the hubbub surrounding him.

My friend breathed a sigh of relief. The fact that the janitor remained unperturbed told him that this was probably some sort of training exercise that the police did every night after closing, or at least frequently enough that the janitor knew that it was nothing to be concerned about.

 

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

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16 comments

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  • Avatar
    George Gonzalez

    Reminds me of long ago when I walked into a McDonald’s in a strange part of town.  The time was 12:59 AM.  At exactly 1:00 we heard the LOUDEST siren we have ever heard.  The walls were shaking and I had to cover my ears.   Was it Aerial attack?   What to do?   I took my cue from the McDonald’s staff which was still slowly loading french fry envelopes with french fries and desultorily pouring coffee.  Probably not a panic type of event.  I tried to calm down and ordered my food and walked out with it.   Outside I looked around and saw a telephone pole about 10 feet from the McDonalds with a civil-defense siren on it.  I guess 1PM was the time to run the monthly test. 
     

    • Avatar
      Andrew Brehm

      I was wondering why they run tests in the middle of the night before I noticed the PM behind the 1.

    • Avatar
      Kenny Biel

      This is common in Texas. The 1st Wednesday of every month at 1PM local every town tests their warning sirens. If you hear them go off any other time, take cover quickly; there’s a tornado near by.

  • Avatar
    smf

    What if the janitor isn’t skilled enough to tell the difference between the regular training sessions and an actual incident? He will be right more often, but when he is wrong then it could go very wrong

    • Raymond Chen
      Raymond Chen

      If you’re going to be an armed intruder, make sure to do it at exactly 1am in the baggage claim where there is guaranteed to be a group of armed police already searching for an armed intruder.

      • Avatar
        smf

        If it’s christmas and there is a guy in a dirty white vest crawling around, ignore the janitor

  • Avatar
    Alexey Badalov

    Friend’s reaction: “my theory is the armed intruder was posing as a janitor, effectively fooling everyone.”

  • Avatar
    cheong00

    I wonder why the janitors keep mopping the floor as the police rush in. Shouldn’t he stop until the police finished whatever they need to do?
    They probably need to mob the floor again after the police rush out the building.

    • Raymond Chen
      Raymond Chen

      That’s why he starts mopping at the opposite end of the building from where the police do their exercises. (Or maybe he asks the police to use clean shoes.) I didn’t ask for details on the relative positions of the janitor, my friend, and the police.

  • Avatar
    Elias Bachaalany

    There’s a lot you can learn from janitors 😉 Here’s a story for you that my dad shared with me:
    -=-=
    Once upon a time, a man was looking for a job. He reads about a janitor position in Microsoft Corporation.
    He applies and soon enough he lands an interview. The interviewer starts asking the man some questions and then notices that the man forgot to fill in his email address.
    The interviewer: “Oh, it seems you forgot to type in your email address”
    The man: “No I did not forget. Actually, I don’t have an email account
    ”The interviewer: “You don’t have an email? Well sorry, you cannot work for Microsoft in that case”

    The man left the interview site, feeling very sad. While walking home, he checks his pocket to see how much money he has left and finds a 10$ bill.Looking at the only money he got, he thought: “If I use the money now to buy some food, then I won’t have any more money left for tomorrow”.As he continued walking towards his home, he sees a man selling vegetables. He decides to buy a box of tomatoes for 10$ (using all the money he had left). He then stops near his humble apartment and tries to sell that box of tomatoes for 14$ (to make a 4$ profit).
    So day after day, that man started buying more vegetables and selling them for more profit. After a year he became of one the most successful vegetable seller. He excelled at it and made a lot of money that he became famous.
    One day, a local reporter wanted to interview him and hear his success story. The man started telling the reporter how at first he was selling only tomatoes, then after a while more vegetables, then fruits then other grocery items.
    Towards the end of the interview, the reporter thanked the man for his time and told him: “Oh by the way, in case I want to follow up with you and ask you more questions, can we stay in touch? Can you give me your email address please?”
    The man replied: “Oh sorry, I don’t have an email account”
    The reporter: “Really? How come successful person like you does not have an email account? Imagine the success you would have had if you had an email account!”
    Then the man replied: “If I had an email account, I would be still working as a janitor at Microsoft”