When i signed up to work in Private Security they made me sign an agreement that i am to never discuss any of what i experience in my line of work with anyone outside of the company.
Doing so, if it were to be discovered, would end my employment and i would get sued.
So i am now going to begin telling my story in explicit detail and adding to it from time to time.
All names and locations will be changed.
Chapter 1: What choice do i have?
After i finished college i needed a job to bridge the gap until a spot opened up at my university of choice.
My best friend was working private security and jokingly suggested that i should join the company.
I thanked him for his advice and he immediately turned quiet. "You are joking, right?", he asked me now suddenly cautious. "Why would i be joking? The pay seems good and i actually prefer working nights."
He tried to warn me, to dissuade me, but i needed the money and i applied the next day.
I filled out some documents, put them in an envelope and didn't expect much.
I am an introvert. I am quiet, polite and tend not to speak much unless spoken to.
I am completely ill-suited for this line of work, but how could they possibly know that?
All they knew was that i graduated college with an average A-grade, spoke multiple languages and excel at IT-related tasks.
By the next day i had already stopped thinking about it and put all thoughts of it aside when, while browsing local job-ads, my phone began to ring.
"Is this Mister Stahl?", "The very same, what can i do for you?".
He seemed excited. Nervous almost. He spoke in an almost melodical staccato, constantly increasing in speed.
He asked wether it was correct that i graduated college with an A-grade, wether it was true that i was able to speak multiple languages. He made some jokes about the usefulness of mandarin chinese in some small german city and then he got to the point.
He wanted to know wether i was still interested in doing a job interview.
When i agreed and asked for a date and time he simply replied "How about right now?".
So i got ready and left to see what exactly i applied for.
It was a rather strange experience entering that building of giant men with even bigger muscles.
I was expected and he greeted me at the door, inviting me into his office and then asked me to take a seat.
He asked wether i had commited any crimes in the past and jokingly i told him, that i have limited myself to one major offense a day.
It took him a moment before he laughed nervously and congratulated my sense of humor.
He however asked no other questions of me afterwards.
He told me about the history of the company and about things like duty, responsibility and the safety of those i would agree to protect. During that speech he sounded self-assured and less hasty. It took him about half an hour and i sat there quietly listening to him. Peeking a glance out of the window when i was sure he would not notice.
When he finished i said that i could imagine myself guarding construction sites and wether he had any openings in that sector.
He once again looked confused for a second before he broke out in a smile. "Oh no, no, no my dear boy. What a waste that would be! We so rarely get men of your caliber and we already have something quite suitable to your specific talents."
Before i could even wonder what kind of a caliber of man he must think i am, he began to elaborate on the matter.
"We want to place you in a hospital."
I can't remember what i must have thought about this revelation, but i signed the contract and i was to begin work two days hence.
I put on my uniform, latched my tools to my belt and weighed down by the sheer weight of my armor i stepped into the cool evening air.
I looked ridiculous and immediately wished i had opted to change into my work-clothes after arriving at my destination, but i couldn't change it now. I had to go to work.
Chapter 2: The Hospital
I had never been in this part of the city and the enormity of the building was hard to take in.
It stretched for more than an entire city-block and was surrounded by outlying buildings that i would discover later on, belonged to the hospital as well.
Not knowing where i was actually expected to go i followed the hallway into a small illuminated area in a giant hall that let you see the roof six stories above you.
I stepped up the Service-point and saw a man sitting there surrounded by screens and a multitude of phones, buttons and more nobs than anyone could possibly wish for.
The man looked almost grey-skinned as he hunched over a small meal of meat and carbohydrates and he seemed to refuse to note my presence.
A small bell was placed on the counter and in a flurry of spontaneity i hit it.
The sharp and clear note echoed through empty halls and when his eyes met mine i knew this was a mistake.
I began introducing myself "I am Mister Stahl from..", but he cut me off "I know who you are. Sit down and take THAT off!". He was pointing at my uniform and so i took off my jacket and decided to take the seat next to him.
He did not seem interested in talking to me and only when he asked wether i was a smoker, did his face light up in the least.
Without my jacket i was freezing in the cold autumn weather that signaled the coming of a winter so fierce that i would rather quit smoking than to venture out into the cold.
He told me i would quit within a month. He said that no one stayed long except him and that he would quit himself, if he had any other options.
Standing right next to the ashtray he threw the cigarette on the ground and stomped it out with a furvor only true disillusionment could bring about.
He would train me for this night and the next two that followed.
He did not care wether i followed or comprehended what he said and proclaimed "Pay attention, i won't fucking repeat myself!".
After those nights i received a call in the middle of the day that woke me out of deep slumber and my boss, now more nervous than ever, proclaimed that the employee teaching me had to be let go and no employee experienced enough to continue my training was available and asked wether i was ready to do this on my own.
I declined, but i was left no choice. They said they would continue my training when they had found a solution.
I did not realize then that I was that very solution and no one would come to help me.
Chapter 3: I can't do this
I was nervous before the night even began.
I held onto my cigarette for dear life, dreading the moment when i finally had to go inside and do what i was expected to do.
When i finally did every step felt like a houndred miles apart.
I walked in shoes made for a man much bigger than me and the soles pulled me towards the ground with the weight of a houndred tons.
All i wanted to do was to go home, but his talk of duty and responsibility still made my ears ring.
I passed the threshold and the air from the ventilation system swept over me like a desert-breeze passing over my clammy, sweaty skin.
I was early and pushed the second chair into the adjacent room. No one would be sharing my burden that night.
I turned on the PCs and enabled the switchboard and the emergency-lines.
Before i even sat down calls started pouring in.
I was still shaky on the basics and dropped calls, connected to the wrong person and severed the line once or twice right after the greeting.
I knew fairly well that i would not be receiving any awards for this performance and after two hours of this it started to quiet down.
I placed my hand firmly in my hands and remembered what my mother taught me to do in times of stress.
I began to breathe slowly in and out. Trying my hardest to find a point inside me that i could center on when i heard the door slide open and something happened that i will never forget for the rest of my life.
Something that, to this day, wakes me up in the middle of the night. Covered in sweat, yet feeling frozen solid.
A young woman, growning in pain, hunched over in agony accompanied by a young man whose facial expression portrayed a terror so intense that it was physically palpable from across the hallway.
For no obvious reason i rose out my chair as the woman began, not to scream, but to howl like some animal, writhing in unimaginable agony approaching it's death-throes.
As they neared me the woman screamed for me to call the OBGYN on call and while doing so i heard a sound that etched itself into my memory like glowing red-hot steel into soft, malleable flesh.
Water gushed down her legs and onto the marble floor.
Shakily i dialed the number for the doctor and begged him to come.
She had been pregnant for only 13 weeks and 5 days.
Two hours later a woman came down the stairs and wordlessly handed me a grey envelope and left again, without saying anything.
I opened it and poured the contents slowly over my available workspace.
It took me a moment to realize what it was.
It was a death certificate for "Newborn 1".
I began to cry, to shake and then threw up all over my shoes.
I thought this was the worst moment of my life.
That this job couldn't possibly get any worse.
I had no idea how terribly wrong i was.
This wasn't even when the bad part really began.
Chapter 4: Merry Christmas
Sometimes i think back and try to remember wether i had ever experienced a Winter like this before. When it got cold outside i usually curled up in a ball and played Super Nintendo until i almost forgot that there could ever be such a thing as snowstorms.
For the first time in my life i had money. REAL money.
By that time i had saved about 7000€ in just a few months.
I managed to ignore the sudden harshness of my reality by impulsively buying any and all consoles i could have ever wanted during my lackluster childhood.
I had never considered how to actually display them, let alone configure them in any useful fashion. I stored them in boxes reaching up to the ceiling, leaving only a corridor to my bed and PC.
I was standing in my little warehouse wondering wether 55inches was really big enough, or if i should trade my brandnew TV in for something bigger, after all.
I lived in blissfull ignorance and never really considered for how long i could go on working aproximately 250 hours of night-shift every month.
Everything was always blurry and hazy.
Sometimes i went from sudden outbursts of laughter directly to sobbing without ever knowing why.
I had developed a slight tremor in my fingers and they never stopped shaking entirely.
Never before had i been so exhausted.
Just going to the bathroom took an effort that was almost beyond me.
Even winters faint rays of sunlight hurt my eyes like daggers rammed right beyond my retinas.
God, how i loved those consoles.
I wished so much to have time to just play a few games once in a while.
Then christmas came around and i had to work.
A giant amalgamation of houndreds of christmas-trees strung together reached up through the glass-hallway up into the empty space between the sixth floor.
If Frankenstein had been a more festive person, he would have loved this monstrosity.
I barely made it in to work. A snowstorm wraught havoc on this city and i could neither rely on public transportation, nor my mothers brandnew company-car.
I decided to walk and when i arrived i was frozen so stiff that i was scared i may have peed myself, without even being able to feel it.
Christmas Muzac was blaring through the loud-speakers and i couldn't see or hear another living soul in this empty building made of stone and glass.
I was informed that not all the attending doctors had yet managed to arrive at work.
At the time i did not think much of it, but it would forever shape that night into something so cruel, vicious and barbaric that i have never since lit a single candle on a tree or heard another christmas song without feeling a sudden surge of violent anger.
Many calls came in which had no interest in speaking with me at all, but wanted nothing more than to connect to our on-call priests which had phones with them at all times. This was done to avoid something which goes with christmas, like trees and the music of WHAM.
A man was pacing up and down and the hallway and when i inquired wether i could help him, he began to talk to me. Nervously, at first.
He came in for a CT/MRI and had to wait for his results.
He had beaten cancer before and when he told me he began to smile.
He told me about Chemotherapy, about radiation and the toll it took on his family.
I listened. I related. I connected.
He told me of how "that damn machine" is malfunctioning and he is stuck here waiting for the results when all he wants to do is spend christmas at home.
He made this appointment. He wanted to make sure that the battle was truly over before he could join his family in the evening-celebrations.
He seemed calmed by having someone to talk to and i was only to happy to share my loneliness with such a brave man.
He was called away, presumably for the results he was so excited to hear and left.
The phone-lines had gone quiet and i relaxed. Still, i was anxious. By then i knew enough not to trust my perception and go with my instincts.
A beautiful lane of bushes usually surrounded the small slope down the entry to our clinic and close to the sidewalk was a windproof alcove where smokers could enjoy their chosen source of nicotine.
I noticed someone lying there on the bench, presumably a unfortunate soul who sought protection from the storm raging on around him.
It was and still is policy to immediately intervene in such situations it could "Tarnish the perceived imagine of this establishment" and displeased about this, i slowly got up to wake him and ask him to leave.
I made slow progress against the heavy snow and the ice-crystals that ravaged my face.
When i arrived i tried my best impression of someone used to authority and asked him to "Wake up and leave the premises".
I had no success and he did not even seem to budge.
I came a few steps closer and nudged him, so i would perhaps get his attention.
There was no movement and all i did was loosen the frost that had turned his blanket solid.
This close i saw his face, blue and lifeless.
I said nothing. Did nothing. Felt nothing.
I can not recall how long i stood there motionless.
How long it took me before i dialed the emergency room.
I don't even remember calling or speaking to anyone at all, but i remember what came next with crystal-clear vividness.
Two young men approached from the side-entrance, rolling a stretcher through the snow, cursing loudly when it got stuck in and then their conversation when they stood next to me.
"Jesus Fucking Christ. As if i didn't have to put up with enough shit tonight."
"Just look at that shit! Why do they always go to die on our fucking doorstep?"
"Yeah, i never heard of shit like that happening in any other hospital around here"
"Fucking bastard must have dragged his drunk carcass here to die, so we would have to deal with this."
I spare you the rest.
I didn't say anything and i still didn't move until they bumped the stretcher hard into my side and it rattled me out of my stupor.
Unable to think and feeling frozen to the bone i went back inside.
Sitting. Staring in the distance. Hearing nothing but white-noise and a shrill atonal hissing in my ears.
Nothing happened for the next hour. I felt feeling returning to my limbs and felt an urge to pee so strong, that i jumped up and ran to the bathroom.
When i returned i looked out of the front of the hospital. Nine giant windows that, combined, formed the large glass-front on the right side of the main entrance.
I remember wondering wether the frost on the window-pane was brought about by condensation or how else this might come to be, when i heard a large thump coming from the right-side of those windows that obscured the concrete-slope down into the underground garage under the hospital.
I thought maybe something was rattled loose by the snowstorm and went to investigate when medical personel stormed past me, right out of the main entrance.
I followed and saw where that sound had come from.
It is a common misconception, perhaps perpetuated by movies, that when a human being drops from great height that the overall integrity of the human body is preserved.
This is not the case.
Nothing about the resulting tragedy is even remotely reminiscent of a human being.
Not in a narrower sense, at the very least.
What was spread all over the lower part of that slope was not human, but the vague shape of the impact area and the parts that seperated on impact were still, very much, human.
Only days later did i learn what has transpired and i took another day for it to actually hit me with full force.
The brave man who endured so much hardship, who fought so bravely to beat cancer, had in actuality... not.
He fought a losing battle.
When he realized that he could not win this war he decided to end it the only way he knew how.
By not fighting the war at all.
By not even attending the battlefield.
He lept from a balcony on the sixth floor.
An Oncology-nurse told me that he reached terminal velocity after only a few moments.
That he felt nothing.
That it was practically painless.
I did not believe her.
I have not celebrated christmas ever since.
I haven't spent a single-day since without taking heavy anti-anxiety medication.
Chapter 5: Grounded
About half a year had passed since i started working at the company and even though i had been promised relief, no new employees had been hired.
By now i had mastered my job and have, through trial and error, learned everything necessary to perform my job well.
The unrelenting workload never let up and while i enjoyed the constant cashflow i noticed that with every passing month i felt weaker, less focused and more likely to make mistakes.
One night, comparatively a rather uneventful one, i spent a lot of time pacing back and forth next to my table, since not even caffeine-pills were able to keep me awake.
Many people seem to believe that sitting and resting helps to deal with extreme exhaustion and while that may very well be true, it is far more likely that it will lead to something referred to as "microsleep".
What happens is that you don't really fall asleep, but that you lose consciousness intermittently just to be jolted back to consciousness seconds later.
While it may seem like something that provides at least a modicum of rest, it is actually draining the tiniest reserves of energy you have stored away and leaves you in a state of confusion.
When experiencing this i have learned that slowly pacing back and forth keeps you from falling asleep.
At least that was what i believed at the time.
Until suddenly all lights went out, all sensations seized, all noise went quiet and my mind left my body behind.
I finally collapsed.
This was the first time this happened to me.
I would like to tell you that someone found me.
That someone woke me, picked me up and carried me to a doctor to get some help, but this isn't a story like that.This is real-life and no one even noticed me lying on the cold marble floor.
I woke up and all the feeling that flooded back into the foreground of my mind was pain.
I stayed there, motionless for two more minutes.
A 28 year old man, lying on the ground, sobbing quietly into his shirtsleeve.
I lifted myself back on my chair, somehow managing to cling on for the last hour of my shift and then took the last bit of strength i could muster and followed the Hallway to the ER where i found a nurse that knew me.
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