A 4-3-4-10

"So, what's the gig here?"
"I've got a 4-3-4-10."
"Yeah. That 4-3-4 is tough, especially when I'm on nights..."
"...but the 10..."
"...yeah, the 10 is sweet.

As far as I can tell, the one good thing about having your wallet stolen--right from your office, no less--is getting a bit of cop-to-security guard argot.

All the security guards here at school are retired NYPD "brass." (That was the other little snippet: "Do you have to be brass to get this gig or can you just be a grunt like me?" Turns out, you have to be brass.)

When I went to leave the office yesterday and found my purse was gone, I walked down a flight to where I'd been trying, fruitlessly, to fax our daughter's health records to her new preschool. The purse wasn't there. Was it down on the third floor, then, where I'd been in a meeting? I kept walking down, and found, in the stairwell, three coupons from my favorite children’s bookstore, my proof of car insurance, and my pens.

Stolen. Damn.

I rushed to the ground level and found the security guard. He came to my office with me, sweetly reminded me how very, very, very dumb it was to leave my door open and my purse unattended even for a moment. I muttered something about preschool pre-registration and the exhausting distraction of endless copyediting and then, seeing my own inanity, just shook my head. He then walked back down the same stairwell and found my purse, minus the wallet but with the checkbook, the iPod, etc. I had my keys and cell phone with me, luckily.

We called the NYPD. And I waited. The guards changed shift. I got to hear them talk over their incident reports. I got to hear them describe me as a grand larceny case. And I learned that the guards here work 4 twelve-hour night shifts, with three days off, 4 twelve-hour day shifts, and then have a ten day break before starting all over again: a 4-3-4-10.