Ghosts – Part Two

midtownhomesm.jpg“What was the worst thing you’ve ever done? I won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me…the most dreadful thing…” – Peter Straub Ghost Story

For a short time after college I worked as a night security officer. The city of Minneapolis had spent several hundred million dollars remodeling the old Sears complex, turning it into The Midtown Exchange. Part of that money included the hiring of several security officers. It was our job to monitor the facilities, which included patrolling the building and the grounds. As the new guy, I spent the first 3 nights tailing two other officers until I got familiar with the place. It was a BIG place:

“The Midtown Exchange contains 88 for-sale historic lofts, 219 rental units and 52 for-sale condos; the headquarters of Allina Hospitals and Clinics; a Hennepin County service center; the Sheraton® Midtown Minneapolis Hotel; and the Midtown Global Market, which will be the city’s largest public market. The development also includes a new transit facility.” –Midtown Exchange website

All of this (minus the hotel) was inside one massive building (like I said, BIG). We took turns patrolling the building and grounds; it took one hour for a person walking quickly to complete one patrol, and we did this twice each night. After a few weeks of this (getting turned around often, you can imagine), I became familiar to the point of boredom. The graveyard shift in security is a combination of near total freedom with the constant challenge to remain awake. But there were two places in the building where I never worried about falling asleep.

The first was in the basement. Our patrol required walking down a long corridor, ending in a set of stairs that led to an open furnace room. The corridor had a high ceiling but was well lit. This meant that from the time I stepped into the basement and rounded the corner, I could see the stairway opening at the far end, except the furnace room was dark. There was a light inside, but we kept it off. The walk to the stairs took three minutes, the inspection took about 30 seconds, and then I would turn off the light and head back. And every single time I walked back down that hallway, I felt like a little girl was watching me. Why a little girl, I could not say. But for three terrifying minutes I resisted the urge to look back, sometimes managing not to, often not. I never saw anybody, but there was always that feeling that I had just missed seeing something.

The second place was the $1,000,000 condo.  This was in the top of the tower (I believe it was the 29th floor). This was also part of our patrol, only because the building managers had sold the other three tower condos but hadn’t managed to sell this one. At first this was great. The condo had the best view of the city with 3-story windows looking out over both the downtown and the river. But then I felt it… something terrifyingly threatening. A feeling like something wanted very badly to take the nightstick off my belt and bash my head in. I would try and fight this feeling, taking out my nightstick and rushing through the condo, turning on all the lights and peeking into each room, but even with the lights on (and there weren’t enough lights) the feeling lingered. There was something wrong with the place, and I finally decided it wasn’t worth the bother. On my patrols, I got in and got the hell out of there, almost running from the elevator to the stairwell.

One night back at base I struck up a conversation with the other guards. It went something like this.

“You guys ever get freaked out on your patrols?”

“Oh hell yeah.” Everyone agreed.

“Where?” I asked.

The first person to answer my question was Dave (Dave of the bushy mustache, the sailor’s tongue, and the not-so-subtle hoops and hollers to passing ladies. I think Dave was in his sixties).

His answer scared the hell out of me.

“Well, there is the girl down in the basement,” he said. “She hangs out around the stairs; she’s scary, got killed down there, you know, but she mostly just likes to look. Then there’s the wandering guy. He gets around the building, but he’ll mostly just give you a jump. The guy you got to watch out for is up in the suite. The big suite, you know the one?” We all nodded. I was bug-eyed, trying not to smear my Hanes.

“Yeah, he’s one angry sonabitch. You don’t want to fuck around with that guy,” Dave finished.

I was stunned. I was petrified. I may have smeared my Hanes.

What was this? I don’t believe in ghosts – Dead people wandering around old Sears’ buildings, I just don’t buy it. But I had asked a vague question and gotten a terrifyingly precise answer. And I wasn’t the only one; I could see fear on the faces of my co-workers.

My response was something straight out of The Exorcist: I prayed my guts out. I walked down that hallway praying loudly, “Jesus is Lord here.” “Perfect love casts out fear.” “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.” And lots of others like it (I’m not big on mantras, but I may have said a few “The power of Christ compels you!” as well). I sang songs of praise and thanked God for his protection. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” and so forth.

I did this for a week in the hallway and the furnace room. At first it didn’t help much. I felt a little better because I was making a lot of noise. Then something started to change. I felt fear being replaced with peace; I felt love and the presence of God in the furnace room, and when I walked down the hallway, I did not feel like somebody was watching me.

With this confidence I went up to the suite – and prayed and sang for another week until I was able to stay there for several minutes, in the dark, without feeling afraid. The view was better in peace.

What do I conclude from this?

I won’t presume to understand exactly. What was I experiencing? What were we experiencing? I won’t answer this because I don’t know. What I know is that prayer drove it off. Whatever it was, I felt fear not love, threat not peace. After two weeks of consistent prayer, I was able to sit on the suite’s stairs and pray prayers to God high above Minneapolis. There was a change. That place became those places:

altar stones set in worship, a tabernacle of praise, and a table in the midst of enemies.




Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 7:52 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, that’s scary. I don’t do scary well especially living in Heritage Hill were it is widely accepted that some houses have ghosts. Especially the Phillip’s mansion on Prospect up the Hill from me.

    I think mine is fine, it was originally Mel Trotter’s. Though I’ve found myself speaking the word (much like you did) in the basement many times while doing laundry. It’s just dark down there.

  2. I read up on the history of Phillips Mansion (not a bad name, that one). My favorite part is the story of the man getting his big toe pulled while reading in bed.

  3. Hey I remember you working there. I wonder what ever happen to those times. Thats scary about the little girl thing. I remember talking about the scariest thing in the world is pale little girls in nightgowns. It might of been with you. I dont remember. Good luck with the website.

  4. I think you have this thing set on London time. Its not five am.

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