Esprit de Corps: Chetan

Narrative article, written for Condor Security in 2018.

This is a fictionalized version of true events. Some details have been changed or invented, and all names (except Chetan’s) have been changed for privacy.

A resident at risk

Chetan could feel his pulse beating in his throat as he knocked on the door to number 407 again. Nothing had happened—yet—but there was an alarm going off in his head. Something was wrong.

After a moment of quiet, he called out, “Ms. Linden? Are you alright?” and knocked again. There was no noise from the unit: no music, no movement, no sound of approaching footsteps. It may as well have been empty, but Chetan knew very well that it wasn’t.

He traded a glance with the Property Manager beside him. She was looking more puzzled than anything else. Another silence stretched out from the unit in front of them, and then she pursed her lips and said, “What do you think?”

“I’m not sure,” Chetan said. There was a knot of unease sitting in his stomach that he couldn’t quite pinpoint a source for, but as a professional Security Guard, he had learned to trust his instincts: often your body could tell there was a problem long before your brain caught up. “This doesn’t feel right, Ms. Martell. I think we should give her husband a call, just to be safe.”

“That’s a good idea,” Ms. Martell said. “I have his contact information. Let’s go back down to the front desk.”

They rode back down the elevator in silence. Chetan could feel his unease sharpening as he returned to his workstation at the front desk with Ms. Martell. He quickly pulled up the Lindens’ emergency contact numbers, and Ms. Martell picked up the phone. Chetan watched as she dialled the number and the line began to ring.

There was an indistinct response on the other end.

“Hello, is this Michael Linden?” said Ms. Martell. A pause. “This is Hillary Martell, your Property Manager. We received a call about your wife that gave us reason to worry.”

Chetan could hear Mr. Linden asking something, and then Ms. Martell said, “No, of course not, there haven’t been any problems. We were concerned there might be a medical issue.” Another pause, longer this time. “No, someone from the Honda dealership called us—no, Security Guard Chetan took the call. Would you like to speak with him?”

Chetan stepped forward, taking the proffered phone from her hand. “Hello, Mr. Linden,” he said.

“Chetan,” said Mr. Linden, sounding relieved to be talking to someone he was familiar with. “What’s going on? Is Christina hurt?”

“We don’t know for sure, Mr. Linden,” Chetan said. “As Ms. Martell said, I took a call from a man at the Honda dealership. He’d been speaking to Ms. Linden on the phone and he said she didn’t sound well. Obviously, that could mean a lot of things, but—”

“But he was worried enough to call you.”

“Yes. Exactly,” Chetan said. “Ms. Martell and I went up to your unit to check on Ms. Linden, but she didn’t answer.”

“I see,” said Mr. Linden. There was the sound of shuffling papers, then he said, “I can be home in about fifteen minutes. Thank you for letting me know.”

“Of course,” Chetan said. “We’ll wait for you in the lobby.”

The line went dead, and Chetan handed the phone back to Ms. Martell. Her eyebrow quirked in inquiry.

“He’s on his way,” Chetan said. “About fifteen minutes.”

Steadfast through uncertainty

It was a tense fifteen minutes. Ms. Martell went back to her office, promising to join him in the lobby before Mr. Linden got there. Chetan stayed on the front desk, trying to soothe his worry with the familiarity of his routine security tasks, but it was hard to focus on anything but concern. Aside from his responsibility for the safety of all the residents of the building, Christina Linden was a kind and friendly woman, and he enjoyed speaking with her.

At last, Mr. Linden arrived. Chetan left the front desk and joined Ms. Martell. Mr. Linden came straight up to them.

“Has there been any change?” he said.

“We haven’t heard anything,” said Ms. Martell. “May we come up to the unit with you, Mr. Linden?”

“Please,” said Mr. Linden, already making for the elevators. Chetan and Ms. Martell followed him.

On the fourth floor, Mr. Linden unlocked his unit, throwing the door open on an empty living room. “She must be in the bedroom,” he said. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

They waited. Chetan could hear Mr. Linden moving around, and then the murmur of his voice, though it was far too distant for him to make out any words. After a few minutes Mr. Linden’s footsteps started up again, and he came back to the front door, his expression confused and worried and uncertain.

“Is she alright?” Chetan said. He wasn’t feeling optimistic.

“I don’t know,” said Mr. Linden. “She doesn’t seem sick, but—I don’t know. Something’s off.”

“May we check on her?” Ms. Martell said.

“I have first aid training,” Chetan said. “I might be able to tell what’s wrong.”

“Yeah, of course,” said Mr. Linden. “She’s in the bedroom. Go ahead, I’ll follow you.”

Chetan started down the hall, Ms. Martell right behind him. He found the bedroom without any trouble and knocked on the doorframe before he pushed the door open. “Ms. Linden? It’s Chetan. Are you alright?”

Ms. Linden didn’t answer. She was lying on the bed on top of the covers, fully clothed, and she was crying. As Chetan and Ms. Martell stepped into the room, she closed her eyes and turned her face away, her movements lethargic and strange.

Chetan glanced to Ms. Martell, but she seemed frozen in shock, staring at Ms. Linden with a helpless look in her eyes. His training taking over, Chetan swept the room, looking for details that were out of place—and spotted an empty pill bottle, the cap absent, lying on the floor beside the bed. There were two more empty bottles on the nightstand.

“We need to call an ambulance,” Chetan heard himself say, and then he was picking up the phone and dialling 911.

A life in the balance

Everything happened very quickly after that. Mr. Linden came back to the bedroom in time to hear the beginning of the emergency call and rushed to his wife’s side, already crying in panic. Ms. Martell snapped to action at Chetan’s words, gathering up the pill bottles and reading off the medicinal ingredients for Chetan to relay to the operator. Chetan stayed on the line until he heard the door slamming open at the front of the unit, and then the paramedics were in the room and loading Ms. Linden onto a stretcher and he very quickly got out of the way.

“Stay with me, honey, you’re gonna be okay,” one of the paramedics was saying, and then they were out the door.

Chetan and Ms. Martell followed them out of the building and met Mr. Linden by the ambulance. He was hovering anxiously as he watched his wife get loaded into the back of the vehicle, but the edge of panic had gone out of him. “They said she’s going to be okay,” he said without preamble. “That we got to her in time. I can’t thank you enough. You saved her life.”

Chetan squeezed his shoulder comfortingly. “Keep us updated, okay?”

“Yeah. Yes, of course,” Mr. Linden said. One of the paramedics called for him. “I need to go.” He started for the ambulance, climbing in the back with his wife. The paramedics shut the doors, and then the ambulance was off, lights already flashing.

Chetan watched it pull away with Ms. Martell. At last, she said, “Chetan, that was amazing. I don’t know how you kept your head.”

He allowed himself a small smile. “Just part of the job, Ms. Martell.”

“Well, then, you’re very good at your job,” she said. “You were incredible.” She let out a long sigh, then straightened up. “I need to go write this up. Are you alright? Do you need to take a break?”

Chetan nodded. “I’m fine, Ms. Martell. Don’t worry about me,” he said, and together they turned and walked back inside.

Condor Management is proud to recognize S/G Chetan for his diligence and care towards his duty, and the manner in which he handled this incident serves as a strong example of Condor’s values in action. We are proud to have Chetan on the Condor Team. Thank you to all Condor Staff who continue to uphold the company’s standards day in and day out; your actions make a positive difference.