The EverBright Nursing Home and Elder Care Complex where I work takes up one city block. It is private property and anyone crossing the grounds without a legitimate reason to be there is a trespasser,. If you work there- if you live there- if you are visiting a resident- if you are a volunteer- if you are a vendor or service person- or if you have any other legitimate claim to be there, no problem. But if you are a neighborhood kid who doesn't feel like walking around the block or if you are set on malice, you may not
use the property.
Kids cut across the property all the time and there is not much one sole security guard can do to stop them. I can follow them with security cameras to make sure they don't harass anyone or mess with the cars in the parking lot. I can get on the loud speaker and tell them to keep moving and not come back. I can explain that they are trespassing if I come across them while I patrol outside. But all these things really do is inform a small number of them that they are indeed being watched.
Some kids even want to cut through the nursing home itself. I can watch out for them as they come in the front door and past my desk, but I can't always tell who is a visitor and who is a trespasser,. Plus, if it gets busy, it isn't too hard for them to slip by. I do the best I can and hope that proves good enough.
A few kids have developed an irritating strategy that forces me to either become a chump or a jerk: they ask me if it would be okay if they cut through the building. Some of these use weather or something else as an excuse others just use smiles or sad eyes to get by.
I have to admit that my tender heart let several groups of kids use the nursing home as a shortcut. But it always made me feel stupid and used. One group of kids actually laughed at me for letting let them through. That was it, I could take no more.
The next group of kids that came to the front door, not from the parked car but from the street, I met at the door instead of just letting then enter. I asked who they'd come to visit and they said they'd just like to cut through. Even though they had already started to enter I blocked their way and said "NO. you can't use this building as a shortcut. One of them replied "You don't have to mean about it, you could just say no!" I felt lousy after that.
Then it occurred to me that I had no right to let them pass through. EverBright was private property and not my property. It was my job to stop trespassing where ever I could. And lastly, I realized that as bad as it felt to refuse kids permission to cut through the nursing home, it felt much worse to let the kids take advantage of me.
Lesson Learned: It is better to do your job than to try to be a nice guy.
© 2011 EAH