Updated: May 20
Ali - Security Unlimited.
During the mid nineties, it was common for small businesses to incorporate offices into warehouses because that was a cheap way of housing a work space.
I did just that at a warehouse facility called Trademart Singapore located at 60 Martin Road. My rent was $600 a month for a 600 sq feet space. I airconditioned the whole space and there it served me some of my best years in business.
This was a twin tower, fifteen floors each, mine was on floor 13.. My unit faced the Singapore River and the Feng Shui was simply fantastic and I was in the company of the biggest international brands who had their storage there. My neighbour was Prada.
There's a dedicated team of six security officers, three in two teams, most in their 50s and 60s. Friendly and firm at the same time, they kept the order within the premises and in my years there, no serious accidents.
The night team starts patrolling on three-hourly sessions from dinner time. They will check in if there were people working and ensure all were secured if the units were locked up for the day.
I used to work late, sometimes past midnight because it was peaceful and this warehouse was not your normal industrial building, only storage for dry merchandises.
There was this officer, I believe to be in his 50s called Ali who checked on the block of my unit. He was friendly, 1.6 meteres there and about, slightly hunched with a ready smile. I will leave my door open when I worked alone at night so that I knew who's coming and going as we were tucked in the last unit of a long corridor about a hundred meters from the front of the building.
Ali knew I work late and he dropped in often, knocked on my door so as not to alarm me, telling me not to work too late and be on his way.
One night at around 10pm, as I was working on my desk, I head a jangling of metal keys and steady footsteps outside. I presumed it must be Ali but this time, before reaching me, he sounded as if he was turning back. I got up, went out of the door. The corridor, lit intermittently with pale flourescent lights way up in the ceiling, was empty and silent. I packed up and left.
Two nights later, also at around 10pm, as if anticipating to hear the same footsteps and jangling of keys, it happened again. This time, I decided to stay put. Sure enough, Ali appeared at the door. But oddly, he did not knock, stopped at the door and simply give me an assuring look. He looked his normal self but I could see he was a happier person. I asked him how he was. He did not speak, returned a courteous smile, turned around and walked away.
The day after, I passed by the security post and during the small chat, asked how was Ali. His colleague casted me a sad look.
Ali passed away two weeks ago, working till his last day.
The buildings were demolished and in its place today is a premium residential developement. I am not sure if Ali is still walking the grounds.