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I Am A Security Guard: Bad Moon Rising

As I left home for work on a recent Friday night, I glanced upward. A full moon shone through the clear sky. Lyrics from "Bad Moon Rising," the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, danced in my head. I wondered if that was a bad omen.

Yes, it was The night turned into a comedy of errors.

As soon I stepped inside the store, the other guard walked toward me. "I have a favor to ask," he said.

I paused, recalling the night I stood at his post for 25 minutes while he left for bread.

This time, however, he did not need an emergency trip. Instead, he asked: "Did you have $2.50 for bus fare?"

Feeling generous, I said sure. In case he really needed the dough, I did not want him stranded in a bad neighborhood. I bought some coffee for change and forked over the cash. Then we talked about security matters. He told me two men had recently been busted while stealing body wash. I made a mental note to watch the stuff.

He was giving me more news when the Lazy Cashier walked toward us. She had been off the previous night. She asked the other guard if any cops stopped by the store. She has a crush on a few and often spends time chatting with them when she's supposed to be working. He gave her an update. Their rudeness pissed me off.

She walked away just as the other guard's shift ended. He took off with a wave.

When he left, the cashier walked up to me for a chat. He's a husky young man who's good for a joke. But anger consumed me. I griped about the interruption and hit the cashier's right shoulder for emphasis.

It was the same shoulder he had recently injured. He doubled over in pain. I kept apologizing. He straightened and walked to the break room. He returned a few minutes later with a grin on his face. "I owe you one," he joked.

Dread washed over me as I stood at my post. What else could go wrong? Then an Asian couple with a toddler walked in the store. The husband said a man had asked him for change in the parking lot.

I walked outside. A man stood in the lot shaking change in his right hand. He asked: "Do you have any cheap Tylenol?"

"Don't know," I replied.

He walked away.

I went back inside.

"Leave it to the Asian guy to be scared," the injured cashier said.

A short time later, a loss prevention honcho from headquarters stopped by my post. I had met him once before, but had forgotten his name. "Phil," I guessed while shaking his hand.

"Paul," he said with a smile. He did not take it personally.

We walked outside. I told him about the parking lot incident. He advised me to handle such situations carefully. He drove away to another store.

Ninety minutes later, a man left his bicycle just outside the sliding door. He walked toward the automatic teller machine and said, "I'm coming right out."

"Sir, please move your bike," I said.

He kept walking. I adopted a stern tone. "Sir, your bike is in front of the door. Please move your bike now."

He leaned it against a railing, then walked back inside the store. After getting money out of the ATM, he thanked me and left.

By about 2:30 a.m., the store had gotten quiet. Still, a feeling of dread stayed with me. I have the same bad temper as my father. It often takes a lot of effort for me to stay calm. I feared the one incident that would put me over the edge.

Forty minutes later, I thought it might happen.

A man accompanied by a chatty sidekick grabbed a lighter and put some change on the counter. At the time, the Nice Cashier was busy cleaning an aisle. I called for her. But the customer was in a hurry. He said he had already paid and wanted to leave. I said the cashier would be there soon.

As we waited, I kept my eyes on the customer. Some men get brave when they have backup. The thought occurred to me that he may try to run out the store with the money and the lighter. And I could overreact and end up fighting two men over cheap merchandise.

My luck prevailed. He waited. The Nice Cashier arrived and rang up the sale. I exhaled with relief.

The rest of the shift passed without incident. My mood improved. I had faced Creedence's prediction of nasty weather and prevailed.

-

A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain.

-

See more tales of security guards, pizzeria waitressing, barista'ing and office drudgery in the Life at Work collection.




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Posted on September 11, 2009


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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