It’s a beautiful day today. My company was having a mini-expo outside featuring the indy car they sponsor, among other things. Behind the main campus, there’s a field with picnic tables, a path, and a bunch of open area. It’s viewable from our cafeteria. That’s where the mini-expo was being held. Typically, the door to the courtyard (for lack of a better word) isn’t open. They only open it during the summer. So, normally, if you want to eat in the courtyard, you have to exit and enter at the main doors that are on the opposite side of the building. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’ve done it before because I was just that desperate for sunshine. But, knowing there was this expo in the courtyard, I knew the door would be open today. I did doubletime on my work all morning, because I wanted to spend lunchtime sitting outside, reading a magazine, and enjoying the nice weather.
So, all happy-like, I went to get my lunch, magazine in hand. Before I could get out the door, the security guard stopped me. I was like “my ID’s right here” and I flashed my badge at him, carefully balancing my lunch as I did so.
“No, ma’am. I’m sorry, but we aren’t allowing lunch outside today. That doesn’t start until after memorial day.” He said this with a tone that made it clear he’d said it a million times today.
Me: But I can eat my lunch outside every day. I just normally go through the other doors.
Him: Well, we only have the door open for the expo, and it’ll close soon, and you’ll have to walk all the way around.
Me: That’s fine. I don’t mind the walk. (I start walking out the door again, and he holds it shut.)
Him: Ma’am, I’ve already told everyone else no. I can’t make an exception now.
Me: I honestly don’t care. I’ve been looking forward to sitting outside all day, and frankly, I’m *allowed* to go outside whenever I want. Do I need to walk around to the other door to get out?
And, he never got the chance to answer. I’d love to say he didn’t get the chance because I ran screaming through the door “I’m free! I’m free!”…or because he relented and opened it. In reality, some friends from work started trying to go out and got the same lecture from him, at which point, I gave up and had lunch inside with them instead. Then, as soon as we finished, we went outside.
The horrible part of this is that it’s inhuman really. My company’s security shouldn’t have the power to tell people they can’t eat outside, when there’s damn well a door open to let them do so. I’d understand more if the guard had said a more reasonable excuse like “We don’t have enough trash cans out.” or “We haven’t cleaned the tables yet from the winter.” I still would think it’s BS, but I’d understand. And in all likelihood, one or both of those are the real reason. I’m sure they have to plan for clean-up when they do “allow” lunch in the courtyard.
Still, it’s the most asinine policy I’ve ever dealt with, and the most painful in part because there’s no one to complain to. There’s no public avenue of remuneration. I’m sure *someone* exists *somewhere* that makes that kind of decision…probably the same idiot that decided we needed 100 spaces of visitor parking for an office that rarely gets more than a few visitors and *always* has employee parking issues. (Result: everyone cheats and parks in visitor parking, such that there’s never any spots for the few visitors that do come by) But point being, it’s not like there’s a complaint box or a person in an office to find. And like most, I’m angry about this today, but tomorrow, the work on my desk will be more important.