I work in an office building with an underground parking garage. It is private, which means you must be an employee who works in the building to obtain access to the garage. When I began working here, I was given an access key/button to use at the entrance of the garage. Each morning, you must stop the car, roll down your window and touch your access key to the reader, which allows the arm of the gate to raise so you can enter the garage. Even better, if you have a toll tag in your car (which I do), you can register the number so all you have to do is pull up to the gate and it reads your toll tag so the gate opens automatically.
This has become such a convenience that I forget how difficult it is to use the access key. If the toll tag reader is not working, I have to stop and search for my access key. This means I usually start digging through my purse, drop my phone on the floor, spill my drink on the passenger seat, finally find the key, roll down the window, and touch the key to the reader. I try once. Twice. Nothing. Finally on the third try it works. In the meantime, five cars are now backed up behind me impatiently waiting to enter the garage.
Apparently this difficulty with the access gate was becoming more common for many of the employees in the building. Now each morning when you pull up to the gate, one of the two security guards for the building is standing next to the access card reader. If the toll tag reader fails, they will wait to see if you fumble for your key before they calmly step forward and press the button to raise the gate and allow you to enter. This helps keep the backup of cars entering the garage to a minimum. It also keeps my anxiety levels low so I do not delay everyone behind me.
Here is my real dilemma. The security guard that stands less than two feet from my car as I drive past each morning – am I supposed to acknowledge him each day? Most mornings my toll tag works and I don’t have to stop to search for my key. I slow down over the speed bump, drive past the security guy and head into the garage. Should I wave? Should I smile? Can he even see me smile as I pass by? Does he get tired of waving to dozens of people that drive past him each morning? Does he think I am rude or stuck up for not waving?
These do not appear to be naturally smiley men. Maybe they are just annoyed that they have to stand outside in their suits smelling fumes for an hour each morning. It is interesting to note that they do not show up to let us back in the garage at lunchtime. We are left to fend for ourselves by midday. Nope, mornings are the only dilemma for me. After much consideration, I have decided that I will only “smile back” if “smiled at”. And hope that they don’t think I’m stuck up.