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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life with High Security

I'm not quite sure why this is the case, but it seems like every building I live and work in this year has security that would make Fort Knox proud.  Let me give you a sense of what I mean.

To get into my office at the Collegium, I have to go through two sets of doors just to get into the building, both of which have electronic locks that are active between 5 pm and 8 am.  Since I tend to work normal business hours, it's no harm, no foul.  Once I get through the doors and up to two flights of stairs to one of the main Collegium floors, I come to the first electronic lock that's actually a hinderance.  I go through that by waving my electronic key, then walk past about 8 offices and the xerox room to reach yet another door with an electronic key.  This is the one I completely don't understand, since I have to use my electronic key to get OUT of the series of corridors I'm already in and, when I go out that second electronic door, I enter a landing for a flight of stairs.  I mean, it would make sense if I was entering somewhere, but I'm actually LEAVING one set of offices--there's nothing there but stairs and an elevator! 

In any case, after going through the second electronic door, I walk a whole five feet across the landing to the THIRD electronic door where I swipe my key, walk c. 10 feet, and arrive at my office.  There I only have to use a regular key to get in.

By the way, I have to go through this rigamarole every time I want a cup of coffee or need to go to the bathroom!

If the electricity ever goes out, we're doomed. :-)  I say this because I can't even exit the building without going through at least one electronic door.

And this is the least complicated entrance into the Collegium and my office.  On one of the other routes, I have 3 electronic key stops and 1 time I have to use the electronic key to get the elevator to move.  Thank goodness I saw someone else wave their key in the elevator, or I'd probably still be stuck in it!

From what I've been told all the university buildings are like this, whether you're in the City Center campus, like I am, or out in the Medical and other campuses in the suburbs.

And that brings me to the Towers, which is a university building, so--you guessed it!--has the same high security.  To get into my apartment, you go through a locked front door, catch the elevator, go through another locked door to enter the second floor hallway where all the apartments are located, and then use another lock to get in the apartment itself.  There's no way to "unlock" your apartment door, so if you forget the keys, especially on the weekend, you're stuck.  Actually you're out 50 Euros because that's how much they charge to unlock things, that is, if you can call the security company, but that's another mystery which will be explained in the following paragraph.

Now all this security sounds fine, if a little extreme: you become obsessive about your keys and quickly learn where in the neighborhood you might be able to borrow a phone to call the security company, since there are no land-line phones in the Towers.  Yep.  Officially, if you lock yourself out, you can call the security company to let you in.  That means you must have a phone on you at all times.  Now I ask you: if you're likely to forget your keys, how likely is it that you'll always remember your phone?

Now I ask you to consider something seemingly simple: a dinner party.

The complications there came to the fore yesterday when I walked outside with Ted to find one of the nice Canadians I'd met pacing outside the building, staring at the second-floor balcony.  It turns out she had been getting ready to start yelling my name at the balcony because she wanted to invite me to dinner.  Good thing she didn't; my apartment doesn't actually attach to the balcony.  :-)  She'd tried to come down to my room, but all the various hallway doors were locked, and none of us yet has a European cellphone.

So she comes for a walk with me and Ted, and we strategized (her life with security here is even more complicated than mine because the Towers' personnel only gave them two keys for a family of 2 parents and 2 kids).  I planned to come up to her place at 6 pm, and she'd have one of the kids waiting in the hall (basically sitting in this corridor loitering) so that I could get into her apartment.  We also had to do some planning about dinner itself, because she doesn't have an oven or even one on her floor (unlike me), and because of the security thing, she can't use the oven on the floor below hers.  (We had this great laugh about stealth oven break-ins.)  So after much back-and-forthing together to each other's apartments, we managed to get food cooked and through all the locked doors.  I then made sure I arrived at 6 pm on the dot--I felt so sorry for her kids sitting in a dark, cement hall waiting for me!

All of this craziness but dinner was lovely.

I'd love to know the story behind Fort Knox Helsinki-style.  It's also made me want to try to organize a dinner party just to see if I can manage the logistics!

Off to my balcony and to get something productive done this weekend!  Don't worry; I'll remember my keys!

1 comment:

  1. You should see the History Department. No eletronic locks or security measures there (I guess historians would never learn how to use them;).
    It is said that Helsinki is one of the safest cities in the world - now you've proven this true.