Monday, August 10, 2009

Night Guards Sleep Best

Last week, we had two night-time robbery attempts at our centre in Ouaga. One was successful. The other was foiled.

In the early hours before dawn, at least two people appear to have climbed over the back wall of our centre, despite the iron spikes around the top. A close-growing tree and overhanging branch helped them get in. The fact that there’s no light around the outside of the wall at that point probably was a factor too. Anyway, the thieves managed to get two nearly full gas bottles from the shared guesthouse kitchen facilities, simply cutting the rubber hoses that connected them to the stoves. The value of their haul? About a month’s wages here in Burkina.

Of course, this was not welcome news to the several women staying in that part of our facility! Shared kitchen and bathroom facilities mean leaving your room to use them, and the thought of men with less than honourable intentions possibly lurking nearby meant that most of the ladies would prefer enduring a night with tightly crossed legs to a quick sortie to the restroom. Needless to say, they quickly requested a transfer to other facilities with interior-accessible washrooms.

I should mention that we have night guards on our centre who perform more or less regular patrols around the inside perimeter to discourage such night-time entrepreneurs. So where were they? Well, the theft probably happened on one of their less regular patrols. That is to say, the night guards were probably sleeping instead of doing guard duty. True, it’s hard to stay awake at night. I know. I did a night guard shift once when one of the guards failed to show up for work. But that was after a full, normal day of daytime work too. These guys should be getting rest during the day, but most end up moonlighting (or should I say “sunlighting”?) at other jobs to help make ends meet. And then there’s the fact that it’s hard to sleep at home during the day with all the other family members there making noise. But hey, that’s the way the job is.

So both these guards got written warnings

I’m going to have to give our night guard here at home another written warning too. He just got one last month for sleeping on the job. Last night I went out and found him sound asleep on our neighbour’s veranda before it was even 10 p.m.! I walked right up to him and took the cell phone charger he had laying beside him as proof that I was there. I’ll give it back to him when he comes on duty tonight, along with the warning.

Unfortunately, this does not inspire us with confidence for the next few weeks when we’re going to be away and only the guards will be on duty here. Kathy is already waking up several times a night and getting up to check on our night guard. I suggested that she take his place. After all, it was she who said, “It looks like our guard is getting a better night’s sleep than we are!”

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