Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Danger in the Workplace
I remember a couple years ago, I was auditing a law firm down in Battery Park in Manhattan. I usually stayed late because I was the senior on the audit and there was a lot of work to accomplish in a short amount of time.
At night, our company had a policy of allowing us to take a limo home on the company tab if we stayed past 8:30 pm. I was usually leaving around 11:00 pm or midnight, so I usually took this service, but there was one night where I couldn't find a single car available. I decided to take a cab and just charge the expense through. As I was packing up to leave, I asked the janitor where the best place was to hail a cab. I had made friends with the janitor because we were always working late on the same floor. I learned he was from Chechnya, that he really wasn't a janitor, he was a chemical engineer, but he was working as a janitor until he found a real job in his field.
Anyway, the janitor asked me why I needed to take a cab this late. Wasn't my limo coming for me?
I told him, "No, they're all booked. It's Chinese New Year."
He said, "If you're going to hail a cab, cross the street to do it. You don't want to walk outside the building here at night. You could die."
What? Die? Was it that dangerous of an area at night?
He explained that actually, one of the lawyers who worked in the firm jumped out the window to commit suicide a few nights ago. He landed on a woman walking on the sidewalk outside the law firm. He killed himself, and he also killed the woman he landed on.
"Someone could jump on you, it's too risky. Cross the street and hail the cab from the next block over. You will live."
I couldn't believe it. I mean, that poor woman. Just walking along, minding her own business, when some suicidal lawyer falls out of the sky and takes her with him to the grave. I bet she never imagined that her life would end like that.
The scary thing was, in the past three months, there had been two other suicides at the firm. I don't know why those lawyers chose to jump and end their lives instead of simply resigning from their jobs, but I was very thankful the janitor warned me about it.
I crossed the street and hailed a cab to take me home. But as a rule, I never walked outside the perimeter of that lawyers' office after dark again. Just in case.