Owein R. knew that security at the government facility was going to be a big deal, but it wasn't clear how big a deal it was going to be until he started his job.
To get anywhere in the facility, you needed a pass, and these were granted on a least-permissive basis. Even if your clearance was high enough, you still needed a pass to get into certain areas. To be granted access to a restricted area, you either had to have a pass, an appointment, or to be escorted at all times by someone with a pass – this included lunch and bathroom breaks.
One of Owein's tasks required him to gain access to a restricted area of Building A, and since he had no clearance to the area, he'd discussed ahead of time with the security officer that he'd be needing access, and that he would come by and grab the pass the following morning. The entryway opened into the security desk and offices, which was as far as you could get without a pass. The security officer was in a secured area, but it was literally on the other side of the wall from the publicly-accessible security desk. Since Owein wasn't allowed in that area, he called her from the security desk.
"Hi, my name is Owein R., I understand you have a pass for me?"
"Yes, I do," she said, sounding a little flustered.
"I don't have clearance to enter the SCIF, could you please bring the pass to me? I'm in the main sec-"
"Sorry," she interrupted, "I absolutely can't break away right now, I'm terribly busy."
"So you'll need someone that's approved to be in here to escort you in."
So Owein moseyed back to his area and asked around, and thankfully his friend John was able to help him out. "We'll go after lunch," he said. A few hours later, they were back in the non-secure desk area of the SCIF.
Owein got on the phone with the security officer while a man at the sign-in desk listened to their conversation. "Hi, it's Owein again, I have someone with clearance with me now, can I come back and grab the pass?"
"Sure!" she said politely.
The man at the sign-in desk cut in; "just sign in here and I'll send you on back."
The sign in form was simple enough; name, date/time, reason access was requested, and a wide column labeled "appointment." "Uh, excuse me, what do I put under 'appointment?'"
"You do have an appointment," he said, more like a statement of fact than a question. "Don't tell me you don't have an appointment?" He paused, then continued "I'm sorry, you can't come in without an appointment. If you don't meet the required clearance level you have to have an appointment."
Again, Owein got the security officer on the line. "I can't get in without an appointment, what should I do?"
There was a pregnant pause while Owein hoped that she'd just walk five feet to give him the badge. No such luck, however – "I guess you'll just have to make an appointment with someone that's working on the same project."
It was back to square one, except not really, since Owein hadn't actually left square one yet. He and John walked back, and Owein furiously dialed everyone on the project. Of course, none of them had the necessary clearance level, and since John wasn't on the project, he wasn't acceptable as a chaperone. In short, Owein had no official reason to enter the facility.
The following day, Owein woke up ready to kick the day's ass – first thing, he marched up to the security office and got the security officer on the phone. "To get an appointment requires official business. The only business I have in there is getting the badge from you. Can I make an appointment with you?"
"Sure can," she said, ruffling papers audible over the intercom. "Looks like I'm free... ahh... in a little over two weeks, the 23rd at 3:00 PM."
Owein slumped his shoulders and sighed – when he got confirmation that his pass was ready, the note also mentioned that it would only last for two weeks. In fact, this project was supposed to be completed before then. "My badge will be expired by then, and at this point it's too late to reschedule my work authorization. You can't fit in a five minute appointment some time today? Do you have any other ideas?"
"Sorry, booked solid, plus all of the paperwork required for the appointment... I guess you could send someone in for it."
With a new lead, Owein called John, who showed up at the security desk ten minutes later. After disappearing in the security officer's office building for a minute or two, he returned empty handed. "She won't give me the badge because I'm not you."
With her on the intercom again, Owein tried to keep his temper. "Didn't you just tell me to send someone in for the badge?"
"Well..." after a few seconds, she launched into a tirade. "Have you read our security protocols? And are you aware of how badly you're asking me to violate them?" She went into great detail about how wrong everything Owein had asked her to do was.
Trying to calm her down, Owein calmly pleaded "look, can you just bring it with you to lunch or something? I can meet you in the lobby if you'd be willing to bring the pass with you."
Three hours later, he was back, and he finally met the security officer face-to-face. She held the badge between her index and middle fingers, held near her temples. Uh oh, time for another tirade. "I'm not a delivery boy, you have no regard for security, you've wasted my time for several days," she scowled. Owein tried to calmly explain that they were on the same side of the security argument, he'd just been trying to find a way within the security protocols that he could get the pass that had already been approved and created for him.
Once Owein finally got his pass, it was a Pyrrhic victory. Thanks to several days' worth of delays, he didn't get the chance to finish his project on time, and he was downsized the following week.