I don't know how to describe my feelings after today. I had one of those moments where you just shake your head and hope that you never had to deal with this level of stupidity again--and heaven help you if it is your own stupidity.
Where I work, there is a security system installed by one of the big names in building security. The name isn't relevant. Because of my geekiness, I often get called in to help on all sorts of computer- or electronic-related issues. So I wasn't surprised when J. asked me to help out with the security system. Apparently we were getting messages on the system that indicated the backup battery was dead. She worked with a security guard to find out where the backup battery panel was stored--which room, which panel.
J. did some research and discovered what kind of battery we needed, so once the battery was purchased she called the security guards to come in and open the room so the battery could be changed. As J. only works half-days, I ended up taking the call from a different security guard. He arrived and we went into the room where the system's backup battery was stored. He knew exactly what he was doing. He went straight to a grey box mounted on the wall, opened it, and we proceeded to change the battery. It was really quite straightforward.
I was surprised that even after changing the battery we were still getting "dead battery" messages, but a call to the manufacturer of the system said that the battery needed to charge up. It could take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. That didn't quite sound right to me, but I thought that their system may be slightly different, so I didn't say anything. According to the company, everything should be fine after two days.
Two days came and went. We were still getting "dead battery" messages. First we called the company who sold us the battery. They assured us that the battery was fully charged when we bought it. So it couldn't be a dead battery.
After several more phone calls, an engineer from the manufacturer arrived to help us. I was asked to talk to him. So we went into the room where the backup battery panel was located, and I followed him in--and watched, stunned, as he proceeded to a different panel, a white one.
"Wait a minute--that's the box with the backup battery?" I asked.
"Sure," he replied.
"So what is this box?" I said, pointing at the grey box the security guard and I had been messing with earlier.
The engineer opened it, and after looking over the wiring he said, "This appears to be a card security system. You know, the kind where you have to pass an access card through a card reader to gain access. It looks like it's been out of commission for years."
So the security guard opened the wrong box. A second security guard went to the wrong box. And here's the worse part: the white box the engineer opened clearly was labeled with the security company's logo.