I used to work security for the Ross Building at 8th and Market in Philadelphia. If you are familiar with this building, then you know that the
building connected to the 8th and Market El station that is actually underground at that stretch of the line.
One of the things we do especially when you're working 3rd shift is hourly patrols of the building. One of the reasons, besides the stores is the Dept
of Agriculture and other Federal offices in the upper levels of the building.
In the non public areas of the building, there are back halls that are behind Panera Bread, and the other restaurants in the food court that is in the
lower level of the building, connected to the El Station. Because the 8th and Market underground also links to PATCO jersey train line at that point,
and in the winter, it becomes a place where many homeless go to get out of the cold. In fact one of the more unsavory duties we'd have is at 7 in the
morning, we'd have to go out to the station and move the homeless people from OUR side of the underground to SEPTA's side.
I mention all of this because there are times when we have found on our patrols, homeless people in the back halls behind the restaurants.. But those
back halls also have stairs that lead up, and run behind the offices in the upper floors.
Usually we trade off, there are always two officers, and they try to pair us male and female, because of Lavatory checks. And we would trade off, one
round on one round off, so in an eight hour shift, each officer would do 4 rounds.
It was winter. It was actually code blue that night. Cold Blue is a term that means the police can force the homeless to go into a shelter, because
death is likely from the exposure. That night we had a few people slip into the building, and we didn't hassle them, we just kept an eye on them.
I went to make my rounds, and went through the back hall, which was clear, up the stairs, and then there is a hall that you go down to that ends in
back office doors. It had a few steps and then a small landing, about 5 feet long. You can't see it at first, because it's behind a turn coming from
the main steps that get you up there.
I came up those steps, and made the turn and there was a guy sitting on those steps. I thought he was one of the homeless that had slipped back there.
He was an older man, looked like he was in his 60s, lead a hard life. His hair was white, he had a grubby, but short mustache and beard, that still
had some darker hairs in the middle of the chin. The mustache was yellow stained under his nose and at the corner of his mouth.
That hall is not well lit, having industrial like yellow lights that tend to wash everything out.. But his clothes looked very dirty, like they were
stiff with dirt, I can't say what color it was, just brown, grey dirty clothes. He was wearing a knit cap either black or brown, and his jacket had a
rip across the front of the left arm.
I stopped short when I saw him and I was surprised, because of course, no one was supposed to be back there, because I thought the homeless we
pretended we didn't see in the food court were all there, and because I had been working there long enough to know most of the regulars, and a few
that just made the Ross Building one of their stops.
We had a procedure when it came to that kind of situation. You ask the person to leave. And I did. I said to him, sir, you're going to have to move
on. (they called me the Nice Guard, because I was always polite and respectful to the homeless, not demanding, but asking, I would apologize for
waking them up in the morning, and the Dunkin Donuts which is right there when you walk in would often give us guards the leftover donuts of the day,
far too many for us to even take home to family, I would give them out to the homeless. Because of this, I never really had any trouble with getting
them to comply with my requests, other then Naked Crazy guy. Yes he was naked most of the time. and yes, he was definitely crazy), So calling him sir
was par for the course for me.
But he didn't move. I spoke to him again, Sir, can you please exit this area, this isn't open to the public, you're going to have to leave, and he
ignored me. At that point, I turned, walked back towards the main stairs, taking maybe three steps away, and called my partner on the walkie as per
procedure and gave him my 20, saying I have an indigent there that is refusing to leave.
He confirmed and told me he was on his way, and I turned back to guy to ask him to leave one more time.
No one was there.
I LOOKED at this guy for at least 30 seconds before I recovered over the shock of seeing someone where no one should be, and when I was asking him to
leave the area, that one-sided conversation was at least a minute, giving him time to acknowledge my request before repeating it when I was
I got a lot of ribbing from my partner, but I KNOW what I saw, I KNOW what was there. I can see that man in my mind to this day. How he sat on the
step, his body position. There was no way for him to get past me. He was there and then he was gone.
edit on 6/10/2011 by FalseParadigm because: (no reason given)
edit on 6/10/2011 by FalseParadigm because: Edits for