They say I’m meticulous, and thorough, and observant. I walk the halls like they do, spotting every crooked exit sign, every doorbell light that’s burned out. I write it all down on my clipboard, which makes me feel official and slightly intimidating. My keys jangle around my neck as I continue, keeping time as I walk down another hallway at a quick pace. Only these and the swish-swish-swish of my jeans can be heard as I pass – my ninja shoes make no noise.
It’s become a process now, something my body is trained to do without me having to think about it. End of hall, open door, sniff – clear. Nine steps to a set of stairs, and my feet lightly tap each one of them. Turn, repeat. Open door, sniff – this time it’s food – someone’s baking brownies. My body continues down a new yet identical hallway and my eyes sweep for anything out of place. Another corner turned, another hallway down. What are we going to find next?
Some days we’re lucky – we get by only finding a scrape on the wall or a burned-out ceiling light. Other nights, though, it’s not that easy. Loud music, clanking beer cans, ping pong balls hitting tables – these noises turn into confused people, silence, questioning looks as they produce their IDs, and tedious hour-long papers that we must write so others can see the situation as we saw it.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to these people. How did they get here? What led them to decide to drink tonight, to make noise, to get in potentially dangerous situations where someone could get hurt? The life I experience is nowhere near one that wants an outside escape – so what’s different for them? I have everything I could possibly want in my life – what’s missing in theirs? And how can I help them find it?
It’s these situations that make me afraid – afraid of my own hallways, where a different, scary situation could be lurking around every corner, and afraid of life. Will my life ever look like that? Will I ever end up on the receiving end of one of these documentations? Since I don’t understand what led them to their actions, how will I know what to look for? And most of all, will I ever be driven to that?
I hope to God that I won’t.
But all I can do is keep living like I am, thinking the way I do, surrounding myself with the same amazing people that are in my life. And I keep patrolling the hallways, trying to keep the building in order and everyone inside it safe.