Back in the 80’s, I was trying to break into radio and worked at a small market station as an on-air talent while doing overnights for the AM station. I worked the midnight to 6am shift and I believe I even had one fan. His name was Don from Lawrence and he was an insomniac who stayed up all night listening to AM radio and drinking coffee; sometimes his wife would say hello from the background if she happened to wake up at 4 am in the morning. They were definitely an odd but harmless couple and since I was always alone in the building, at least there was someone who was listening and passed the time with his calls to the show.
I encouraged the station to hire my best friend from broadcasting school to cover the shift before mine, which aired the Casey Kasem weekly countdown. My friend Michelle was to be the board op person from 8pm to midnight every Saturday night right before my overnight shift.
We joked about the necessity of putting our time in a small market station north of Boston in order to break into radio and begin our lofty dreams of becoming almost famous. The station was in a seedy part of town, we were young, it was fun, and it was the eighties.
One weekend, Michelle begged me to cover her shift so she could go on a ski weekend. While I wasn’t looking forward to working straight through from 8pm to 6am, I reluctantly agreed to do this-once. At about 10:30pm, the buzzer rang from the downstairs door. I was the only person in the entire building on the top 4th floor with offices on the three floors below. I had total control of who entered the building to proceed to my floor since the other 3 floors had no access through the elevator. As I waited for the Casey Kasem feed to end, I answered the buzzer, only to hear our drivetime on-air personality named Joe Harvey at the door.
“Hey, its Joe Harvey, can you let me up?” My immediate response was, “Sure,” as my hand reached for the door release. Right at that moment with my finger on the button, something in my gut, that I cannot explain, whispered for me to stop and ask a question, “What are you doing here this late Joe?” “I forgot something, can you just let me in?” he seemed annoyed. And again, my finger went straight to the button on the wall to allow him in, and again something held me back.
“Joe, can you just humor me and walk out under the streetlight?” I laughed a little embarrassingly, “I just want to make sure….”
I ran to the 4th floor window, which I had the ability to slide open and looked out, fully expecting to see Joe Harvey walk out into the desolate street and appear under the street light just like I asked… but he never did. My eyes darted back to the front of the building directly below me and I could see a dark shadowy figure all dressed in black slowly walking away from the building.
Just to be sure I yelled, “Joe, are you there?” The only response I got was a very menacing reply that simply said, “Yoooo” in a deep male voice that actually sounded nothing like Joe Harvey after all. It scared me so much that I immediately ran into the studio and looked up Joe’s phone number to call his home. His mildly irritated wife informed me that they had been together all night and had just returned from a movie. My next call was to the police who promised to drive around the area for me but it still shook me to the core that I was so close to letting a strange man up into a dark unoccupied building while I was completely alone. Did he know there was a lone woman working and if so, how? Could it have been Don who I always thought harmless? So many thoughts.
After the weekend, I told my friend Michelle about the incident which took place on her shift and then a sickening realization came over both of us, when she screamed, “I would have let him in!! If I worked that night like I was supposed to, I definitely would have been intimidated, being the new employee, and I would not have questioned someone’s reason to possibly come back to retrieve something from work!!” I also believe she would have let that man in that night.
Was it a coincidence or something else as to why on that night she asked me to cover her shift and how could I explain that feeling that took over me to not open a door in a split second’s time. That was not the last time I probably escaped death but that is another story for another day. Always TRUST YOUR INTUITION!