Okay, now that Dancing With The Stars is over I can get down to business. I’m supposed to write about my department, Protection Services, or as I prefer to call it, Security (it’s shorter and sounds scarier). Most folks are familiar with the uniformed officers who prowl the galleries during the day, the ones who smile and point the way to the restrooms and the Van Gogh, and that may be the extent of their knowledge of the department. Deep in the building, however, is the nerve center of the department, the Control Room. Some people know about it, a few have seen it, but everyone is fascinated by it.
The Communication Specialists who work in Control are responsible for monitoring everything and everybody. To accomplish this grand task, Control is equipped with video systems, audio systems, HVAC systems, fire systems, and alarm systems. It has a biometric security system and a multi-channel radio station. It even has a freakin’ drive-up window! I can’t give away all the secret stuff, like the GPS tracking chips we embed in every new staff member, but here’s a little history of the Control Room.
Here I am in the old Control Room sometime back in the 90′s. I spent a lot of years in this room and did some of my best work in there (more about that later).
The room was decked out with sixty-four 8-inch black & white TV monitors and a monochrome alarm computer with the brainpower of a gnat. We had fewer people with radios back then so we only had two channels with which to talk to Security or Maintenance, Housekeeping and Grounds. The room itself was a cracker box, with a two-foot square pillar set dead in the middle of the room. We sat so close to the electronics I swear I’m sterile from all the years of exposure to electro-magnetic radiation.
It was in this room that I created numerous versions of my underground newsletter slash web site in which I gave my sarcastic nature full rein. I made fun of my coworkers, other departments, and all the brilliant decisions management made along the way. Oh, and I made fun of the art. After a comment from Bo Bufore, the IMA’s Shipping and Receiving guru, I created my now well-known cartoon Mindy In Control. Decked out in her security uniform and fuzzy slippers, Mindy (now our new Safety Manager, Mindy Summers) held court from her comfy recliner in the Control Room. She said things no one else dared to utter.
I also created Skeeter & Bubba, the most famous maintenance men in the world, who went on to become the most famous maintenance men on the Internet. Some folks have been here long enough to remember the golden days of my toons being available to the public. Needless to say, I was chastised several times by my superiors and had to periodically pull the stuff from circulation.
In 1999, Control got an upgrade. At the butt-end of the Millennium we finally went to color cameras and monitors. We went from the small B&W monitors to 14-inch and 24-inch monitors. We also got two Gateway computers for processing alarms and for word processing. No more killing trees for paperwork, and no more trying to decipher my partnerʼs handwriting.
Today, the Control Room sports 42-inch flat-screen monitors for viewing our nearly two hundred cameras. The alarm software has been updated. More people carry radios so our radio base station has been upgraded to eight channels. There is Internet access for monitoring weather radar, and there is enough room to play half-court basketball.
Because of all the surveillance equipment, Control is often referred to as Big Brother but we like to think of ourselves as Santa’s helpers, watching who’s being naughty and nice. Either way remember, someone is always watching so be careful where you scratch.