I used to work for a company that had surveillance cameras. We all knew they were there and we even understood why they were there. We handled highly sensitive data and printed it for highly sensitive bank mailings.
Most days, those cameras just chugged along, collecting video of unsuspecting employees picking their noses or tripping over skids or hurrying under security garage doors as they slid into the down position, sometimes with drastic, bleeding results.
One night during World Cup soccer, the third shift, third world employees had an impromptu match which resulted in low productivity and raised a flag so big and so red that the day shift supervisors demanded a viewing of the previous night’s tapes. Yep, there they were in black and white, having the time of their lives. Sometimes, I wish those tapes had audio as well!
Did those cameras ever catch anyone doing anything illegal? Hell yes! Let’s see, there was the Peeping Tom who would crouch outside of a Men/Women’s room and peek through the keyhole whenever a woman went in to relieve herself. There was a group of folks who would walk the hundred or so yards across a field to the liquor store, come back and enjoy a six-pack at the picnic tables in the smoke break area before returning to work. There was incredible footage of a woman in a van who backed into a parked car. I never found out if she did it on purpose or if she just forgot she was in reverse and stepped on the gas to get home as quickly as possible.
The cameras caught unsuspecting lovers, deviant urinators and belligerent brawlers. On film, we found lunch burglars, cell phone thieves and downright criminals who stole money from their “best friends. I was gonna pay her back on pay day. I didn’t think she’d miss that $40.”
I loved the cameras because I knew where they were. I’d often smile up at them when passing by. I used to think that my employers would be relieved to know that I made it to work safely at 2:00 am after I’d been on the phone for an hour trying to solve a technology issue that ended up being something I had to drive 35 miles to fix. I think they forgot to review the tapes the week I worked 48 hours straight and was less than pleasant to a co-worker. Maybe they saw my head bobbing as I sat in an chair in the server room and felt that qualified as a good night’s sleep.
More often than not, I felt like I was on a covert mission when I arrived at 4 am to straighten out some technology mess. I used to imagine that I was dressed in black from head to toe as I surreptitiously walked through the halls of my mind, peering around corners and plastering myself to the walls as I inched my way to my office with Belushi-like stealth where I would finally breathe a sigh of relief having avoided those God-forsaken cameras.