So there I was, out of work for the first time. In those days it was easier to get another job, but all I could manage was to become a night security guard for a local company.... on £3.10 ($4.79) an hour!
I was posted to the Co-op college out in the country at Rempstone, on 13 hours a night shifts, and a 15 mile trip each way.
The place was massive, duties included, patrolling all 11 buildings, restaurant, pub, archives, library, stores, computer room, reception, cash takings security, drunks, car parking, games rooms, tennis courts, golf course, the Lido, the four residential blocks (including the 544 students), the tutors quarters, the 18 classrooms, issuing tennis and gold gear for hire, the Roman gardens, the central heating for the main block, and greeting visitors and taking them in the restaurant to serve salads to them, before guiding them to their rooms and carrying their luggage for them, manning the phones, responding to calls for assistance form pupils, tutors, bar staff, and visitors, the local police ARV vehicle, key control (there were over a thousand on site, the hundreds of windows on site, lock-up, unlocks, etc etc!
Looking back, I do not know how I managed it... but this particular night, the 'Night of the Storms', was particularly horrendous!
1720hrs: The lightning and rain started pelting down as I drove up the main drive to the reception, to start work at 1800hrs...
As soon as the staff had shown me the keys for the night's visitors due, and they shot off during a break in the rain - it started: The first power cut!
Now this was new to me, and I knew the first thing I had to check was the Armed Response Vehicle garage, conveniently located about half a mile away at the West end of the compound, this I did, and returned to inform the police that all was safe with it - then I rang the caretaker, to find out how to reset the boiler, all the time having to fend off enquiries from bar staff, drinkers, students, and tutors about the power!
I got my torch, and went into the boiler room, luckily the intsructions given me were clear, and in about five minutes, I'd reset the boiler.
Back to base (reception area), to find all the flaming alarms were going off - 14 of them! It took ages, but finally I managed to get them all reset.
The guests arrived, and I fed them, and guided them to their rooms, they were Bulgarian, but somehow I got my messages across.
Then, I thought, ah, I'll put the kettle on.... just as the second power cut took place! This time I was a bit more knowledgeable as to the procedure, and went through it all again.
Then I got calls from students who were locked in the computer room, and archive rooms! So I had to go and release them, and reset the code access controls on the door.
When the bar closed, I escorted the barman with his cash to the safe, and we deposited it safely. Then I went around locking up the library, computer room, archive room, games rooms etc.
By 1100hrs, the staff had all gone, and I hoped things would settle down a bit. I took the opportunity to start filling in my incident report sheets - then the third power cut struck!
This time I had no staff to bother me, so got it sorted relatively quickly... all bar an extra alarm that I could not identify! I had to phone the very unhappy at being woken up caretaker again. It turned out it was a hallway picture alarm, but we could not identify which, so I had the pleasure of going around the halls, checking the 60 or so pictures/paintings hanging on the walls, to identify which one it was - during this, the forth power cut hit me!
All through the procedure again, and back to searching for the activated alarm on the painting. I found it, and closed the contacts behind it in the hope that I could now reset it.
So back down two flights of stairs, through the main hall, back into reception to get the keys to the 'catering managers office', where I was informed, the panel was located. It was in a walk-in cupboard, very high on the wall, I had to use a chair to stand on to reach it, but thankfully, it reset okay.
Back to reception and my incident reports, and yes, you've guessed it - another power cut!
This time lightning had hit a tree outside the boiler room door, and blocked entry - so very sodden and frustrated me, had to haul it out of the way, but everything reset okay again... then I realised I'd forgotten to inform the Leicestershire constabulary control room that all was safe with the ARV garage... so did so, and got a mouthful for being late with the report.
As the staff arrived, nothing looked any different to them, and I had to take the incident reports home with me to fill out.
While doing this at home, the phone rang, control had received a message from the Catering Manager at the college, it seems I had left a dirty footmark on the chair used to access the alarm panel, and I was now barred from the site, and would receive a written warning!