Going home, IT guy? Not so fast

For one tech pro, the reward for a successful migration is an extended and unexpected stay in the office

Going home, IT guy? Not so fast
Credit: Thinkstock

Ever felt locked in to a job? There was a time when it was literally true for me.

I was the IT manager for a small firm that had a few small affiliate offices. One of these offices, about 80 miles away, was moving to a new location. I decided to be onsite the day of the move to make sure everything was connected and went smoothly.

The new office was small, but the right size for the affiliate group. The day went as well as could be expected for a move, with only some small hiccups here and there regarding the Internet connection at the new office and getting phone lines cut over.

Around 6 p.m., I was finishing up connecting a new computer to the domain when the office manager said he had to leave for a dinner event that evening. He said I could lock the door of the suite from the inside on my way out.

No key and no clue

I was done around 7 p.m. and went to leave. I locked the door of the suite from the inside as I left and went out into the foyer of the building. But when I pushed on the rear glass door to leave the building, I discovered (to my utter surprise) that it was locked. I checked the front double doors -- they too were locked.

I called the office manager and his wife’s cell (which luckily I had gotten from her earlier that day to coordinate some details of the move), but neither answered. After leaving a few voicemails, I noticed that my phone had about 12 percent battery left, and I did not have a way to charge it. Our affiliate’s new office suite was locked, so I couldn’t get back in and I hadn’t connected my laptop to the Wi-Fi.

After about 30 minutes, I started to panic. Even the bathrooms were locked. I again tried calling the office manager and his wife. No answer, so I left a couple more voicemails and sent them some texts. I also texted my wife to let her know of my predicament.

For lack of a better idea, I decided to wander through the building a bit more. I walked upstairs to the second floor suite and found it was open. No one was around, so I looked for a way out. I noticed an outside stairwell to the second floor, but that door was also locked. I scrounged around the suite for a key that could open the doors to the outside, but I came up empty-handed. I’m certain that the security footage would be disconcerting: an unknown person rummaging through the office after dark. 

I didn’t know what to do, so I told myself that the worst that could happen was that I would need to sleep in the building -- fortunately, there was a bench in the foyer -- and the first person to come into the building in the morning would find me. How surprised they would be! However, there was still the unfortunate reality that the bathrooms were locked.

Escape exploration

As I made my way back downstairs, I noticed a security sticker on the window of a vacant suite on the first floor, and I tried calling the 800 number. To my relief someone answered, and I jumped in: “I’m in kind of a weird situation -- I’m locked inside of a building.” Alas, that security company no longer serviced that building, but the rep gave me the number to the local police department.

I called the police department and explained my strange situation. They said they could send a patrol out to see what they could do for me. Things were finally looking up.

Around 8:15 p.m., I got a call back from the office manager. He was very concerned and said he would leave the dinner immediately, go home for the keys, and come to let me out. The police called back a little later, saying the patrol was delayed and asking if I was still in the same situation. I said yes, but someone was coming to unlock the door, and they could cancel the patrol.

Success at last

Around 9 p.m., the office manager arrived and opened the door to the building. Very apologetic, he said this was his first day at that location and he hadn’t yet been told of the standard procedures by the building manager. He’d assumed that the building would remain open until later, or at the very least that even when locked the outside doors could be opened from the inside.

I was simply happy to be out of the building, and the experience made for a very interesting story at the office the next day.