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I Am A Security Guard: My Brief Foray Into Crime

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite when I stand at my post and watch for shoplifters. I once stole candy from a store.

The incident took place while I attended elementary school. On a June afternoon, my sister and I walked to a Jewel to buy candy. I was 10 years old, and she was eight. We planned to share treats during the end-of-the-school-year parties organized by our respective classes.

Once inside the store, we split up. I saw an open bag of Hershey's Kisses, looked around, and grabbed a couple. I stuffed the goodies in my mouth and put the wrappers in my pocket. Then I walked about 10 feet down the aisle to avoid getting caught in front of the bag.

About five minutes later, my sister stood to my left. Her closed mouth moved rapidly. I noticed a telltale wrapper next to her feet. Then I saw a frowning female cashier behind us. The cashier dragged us up metal stairs to the top floor.

There, two security guards in plain clothes made us stand in a corner. While they huddled at a table a few feet away, I pouted about my sister getting us busted and fretted over our parents' likely reaction. Both could wield belts as forcefully as Serena Williams handles a tennis racket.

I also felt shame. Our parents had taught us right from wrong. We had failed them and ourselves.

Meanwhile, a sobbing woman wearing an orange long sleeve shirt and brown pants sat on a metal chair. Her hands covered her face.

About 20 minutes later, a pair of police officers took the woman away. After they departed, I wondered whether the cops would come for another pickup.

Of course, the guards did not phone the cops. I should have known the police had bigger priorities than the theft of a few pieces of chocolate. And we caught a huge break. The guards did not even call our parents.

One of the guards, a tall, sandy-haired man, looked at us with steely blue eyes and asked: "Are you sorry?"

"Yes," we replied in unison.

"Good," he said. "You can go now. Don't come back up here."

My sister and I said, "Okay." We hurried down the stairs, and bolted out the exit.

Given the theft incident, my current job provides a mildly amusing example of life's ironies. Stronger sensations, however, eliminate the humor. Although decades have passed since the theft, I have not forgotten the fear and shame I felt that afternoon.

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

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See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.



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Posted on July 28, 2010


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