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Working the Night Shift

Back in 2001 I worked with a company called Metawave. It was a cell phone tower enhancement company. They had a new type of antenna that could focus the coverage better. My main job was traveling all over the country (and Mexico & Peru) installing the new equipment. I wasn't involved in the antenna work, I just worked on installing the new radios and configuration for the cell site station.

Can you hear me now?

My co-worker Dan and I got assigned to a tower in Worcester Massachusetts.
(locally pronounced "Woo-sta")
It just happened to be located on the top of an abandoned insane asylum. Oh Joy!

Most of the place had burned down 10 years earlier but it was still a large building. About a football field wide it seemed and the only entrances we could use was on either end. Naturally the cell site was located in the "center tower" which was accessible only thru the center stairs. So to get to it we had to walk the entire half length of the hospital. And the same trip twice more to get to the work van and back if you needed anything.

Worcester State Hospital
Worcester State Mental Hospital

Not only was it a LONG way to go to haul heavy equipment, it was scary as hell.
There were still old beds in the hallways and rooms, old rolling trays everywhere, all kinds of miscellaneous medical crap on the floors. And who knows what else.
We double checked and triple checked all the tools and equipment we would need, didn't want to make any unnecessary trips. That was our plan.

We got there at about sundown (cue the music).

Our initial few trips weren't too bad and there was still some sunlight shining thru the windows when we got all the supplies up to the top of the tower.

The job went pretty well for about 3 to 4 hours until we started needing things.

Being the junior worker I was naturally the one to fetch stuff. My first trip was almost exactly at the stroke of midnight. There was no electricity thru out the building, the only power was for the cell station. So it was pitch dark.

I had a great flashlight. It picked up every open door, shadows of every imaginable shape and size and most of the debris on the floor.
I managed to find the rest of it with my feet while I was busy concentrating on holding back the sheer terror and panic.

I finally made it back to the van which we had stupidly parked under a giant old dead oak tree, you know, just for the dramatical effect.
I was able to find the needed supplies with too little effort, got some extras just in case, and smoked me one of the best cigarettes I've ever had, hell, who knew, it might have been my last one.

Pride and self respect won out and I bravely went thru the whole process again to get back to the cell station.

I had to do this twice more. My legs feel weak just sitting here typing this out from memory.

The fourth time we needed something, good ole Dan volunteered to go. I think he was ready for a cigarette himself.
Ha! Little did he know.

He was gone for a very long time. I began to worry. What a mess!

Dan finally made it back, sort of pale, with the tell tale smell of chain smoking reeking from his body. I think I detected a slight shake in his voice as he stated:

"The next time we need something from down there we are BOTH going"

Luckily we didn't need anything else and finished the job at about daybreak.

We got the hell out of Woosta and never looked back.

More info about this old hospital:

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Living the good life in Southeast Alabama, father, grandfather, cancer survivor, part-time writer, and webmaster - Read More

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