I finally had my own firsthand experience with him tonight. I think he's shy around newcomers, and so it took him a couple months to want to properly welcome me. Another server, Jean, and I were closing the restaurant after all the customers were gone. We were sitting at the bar, organizing our receipts and money, when we heard an indistinct crashing noise come vaguely from the direction of the staircase to the second floor behind me. Jean and I were the only ones left there, the cooks having already left for the night. I brushed the noise off as probably a cat in the alleyway, or something clanging on the train tracks right outside, but Jean was a little more spooked by it.
Jean went downstairs to fetch the vacuum and I started moving chairs around so we could begin the annoying nightly ritual of thoroughly vacuuming the shabby, navy blue carpet in the dining room. Just as she re-emerged from the basement, we heard a high-pitched beep come from the bar/kitchen area on the other side of the dining room. We paused for a moment. There it was again. "Where is that annoying beeping coming from?" I demanded as the sound continued to repeat every few seconds.
We walked over towards the bar, only for the beeping to cease. Eager to get back to work so we could both go home, we moved back toward the other side of the dining room and resumed our work. About ten seconds later, the phone screeched, abruptly shattering the relative silence of our work. Ok, now it was officially creepy. It was after 10:00, we'd been closed for over an hour, and the phone never rings this late in our sleepy, small town little restaurant.
I was closer to the phone, so I hurried to answer it, firmly trying to deny the eerie feeling pervading my senses. It was Adam from the security company. A smoke alarm in the hood over the stove had been set off, and they wanted to make sure everything was ok. "Wait," Adam said. "The alarm just reset itself, so everything should be fine now, but let us know if you need anything."
We hung up, and Jean and I went into the brightly lit kitchen to investigate. We could still feel some heat emanating from the industrial burners, but that was no surprise in view of how recently they had been on. All the knobs on the stove were off and we couldn't see any fire, smoke, black marks on the wall, or any reason at all that the alarm would have been set off.
Many would just write this off as a malfunctioning alarm, but we knew better. Maybe Herkimer was finally ready to welcome me, or just wanted to get some attention or cause some mischief. In any case, I see no viable explanation for the night's creepy and unusual series of events except our resident spirit.