What happened to that suspicious-looking guy hanging around the entrance?

One of the fun parts of attending a conference is swapping stories with other professionals. Today's story is in honor of Global Security Week. (And retroactively in honor of the upcoming //build conference.)

One of the attendees (let's call him Bob) shared with me a story of the time they had to make a change in one of their data centers. This particular change required physical presence at the facility, and to minimize impact on customers, the change was made at night (presumably because that's when demand was lowest).

When Bob arrived at the data center, he walked past a suspicious-looking guy on his way to the door. Bob said hello to the security guard and swiped his access card through the card reader.

Access denied.

He tried again. Still no luck.

He asked the security guard, "Hi, I'm supposed to be here to do a system upgrade, but my access card isn't working. Maybe they just put my name on a list instead of reprogramming the access system?"

The security guard said, "Let's go down to the main office and find out."

The two of them walked down to the main security office, and after some checking, everything got straightened out, and Bob and the security guard headed back to the entrance. As they left, the security guard asked the person at the main security desk, "Oh, there's a suspicious-looking guy hanging around the entrance. Did you see him?"

The person at the main security desk said, "Yeah, he's hiding in the bushes."

Bob (and I) found it interesting, amusing, and reassuring that the security guards were all fully aware of the suspicious guy and had been keeping tabs on him the whole time.

Comments (14)
  1. Joshua Ganes says:

    If those bushes were on private property, I would say that's more than enough reason to go question the guy and ask him to move along.

  2. It's not like security guards have much to do says:

    sad but true, just browse web most of the day :(

  3. suspicious guy says:

    Ah it's no fun being suspicious any more, what with all the cameras and stuff. I think I'll just go menace a tree somewhere instead.

  4. Mason Wheeler says:

    I can't help but wonder what exactly "suspicious-looking" means.

  5. Joe says:

    It probably means "hiding in the bushes."

  6. NB says:

    I don't understand the point of this story. Is it supposed to be funny/strange that the security guards are doing their job?

    What did I miss?

  7. Mark (The other Mark) says:

    I think the point is that Security is aware of a suspicious-looking person lurking in the bushes outside of their secure building, but has apparently not questioned them as to their intentions, or done anything about it.

    Just simply walking up to them and asking "Can I help you?" is generally sufficent- Of course, doing so with sufficent care in case the situation rapidly degrades.

  8. voo says:

    @Mark Sure, but then it sounds like an awfully boring job and watching someone "stealthily" sneak around outside seems like a somewhat fun occupation. It's not as if he could do much harm outside the building while being watched.

  9. Roastbeef says:

    It could be like the cow I saw on the side of the road.  I was driving through rural Oregon and saw a cow outside the fence line right next to the road.  Concerned about someone hitting the cow, I called the cops.  The operator gave me the total brush off… "Cow, road, got it. Bye"

    Only later did I learn that the cow was exactly where she was supposed to be… tethered to a long ground-level steel cable along the side of the road to trim the grass.  

    Maybe the "suspicious guy" was the gardener.

  10. Typoo says:

    My son is (sadly, but it's a job after all) a security guard. One of the first things they are taught (and the main thing) is their job is to "observe", not interfere. Perfect job for my boy……..

  11. GMan says:

    Recently a couple filmmakers were stuck overnight in an airport (DFW) when their flight was cancelled, so having nothing better to do and $30k worth of camera equipment, they made a short film. It caused a bit of a ruckus that they were able to run around the airport all night with nary a guard in sight.

    Except the guards were watching them from the cameras – they just didn't care.

    "It's important to note that security agents observed the two filmmakers at several points during the making of the video. Because the filmmakers were presenting no threat to themselves, to others or to flight safety, and were causing no damage, there was no imperative to curtail their activities," Magaña said in a statement.

  12. Timothy Byrd says:

    Back in the day, when I worked at a defense company, we* were doing some tests of a not-a-network-but-a-switch and had left a cable running from one office bay to another. That evening, a security guard came across the cable, and not having been notified about it, took action. As in chop-chop with a fire axe.  As far as he knew, that wire went straight to the Kremlin.  (Though it wasn't actually a wire, but a very expensive fiber-optic cable.)

    (* I say "we", but I wasn't there – this was just a story that was passed down to me.)

  13. Worf says:

    Alas, too bad that's not what the public wants… "They did all that?!?! Why didn't you stop them?!?!".

    A sucky job, really – damned if you do, damned if you don't. It may be the right thing (don't interfere), but I suppose people want blood because they had to suffer at airports and now a few yahoos were running amok in one.

  14. Semi Essessi says:

    The opposite of my recent encounter with a suspicious looking guy who came in unwelcomed – I had to go and prompt security and nobody else even seemed to notice. The first people I mentioned it to actually tried to imagine that he was someone who was supposed to be there and discouraged me from doing anything about it(!).

    It wasn't the security guard's fault this happened though – one guy can't see everything all of the time. Its whoever thought one security guard and a few cameras might be good enough…

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