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I Am A Security Guard: Nicknames

In order to alleviate the pain of working my crappy job, I've started creating nicknames for some of the store's more obnoxious customers. That provides a bit of levity which helps prevent me from crying or performing a rash act.

The coping mechanism allowed me to survive a recent Saturday night. Four class acts I've christened Churros, Coupons, Diapers and Mr. Stinky arrived one after the other.

Churros often puts trays of the treats on a rail just outside the door and sells to passersby. I should chase him away, but a rare dose of sympathy keeps me from doing the deed. He's a short, middle-aged local with a limited knowledge of English. I give him bonus points for showing some hustle instead of begging.

After he makes a few bucks, he boxes the goods and leaves them beside my post. He expects me to watch his stuff while he shops.

Shortly after I started work, Churros set up his goods on the rail. Twenty minutes later, I walked outside to gather carts. Churros mumbled and pointed to someone panhandling in the parking lot. He wanted me to muscle his competition.

That rubbed me the wrong way. So I simply said "Okay," stayed by the door and scanned the lot. Sure enough, a man carrying a backpack chatted with men by a car. The beggar left the lot after they gave him change.

Sometimes, karma works. Churros did not make any sales. He soon packed up and left.


Coupons earned his nickname because of a fondness for last-minute shopping. My store's weekly sales start on Sunday and end on Saturday at midnight. He often arrives during the final hour. When Coupons does not find a desired item, he interrogates a cashier before demanding a rain check. Because he's friends with a manager, he's rude to the staff.

On this night, he grabbed a sales paper and a cart around 11:55 p.m. and strolled around the store. He approached a cash register about 40 minutes later. As the Nice Cashier scanned his goods, he noticed the sale prices had expired. He left the register to hunt for an assistant manager. A few minutes later, the assistant showed up and told the cashier to charge Coupons the sale prices.


Diapers, an elderly man, earned a unique honor: two nicknames. He acquired the first, Toilet Paper, several months ago when he berated a manager to learn when his favorite brand would go on sale. But a later incident spurred me to give him a more fitting moniker. He asked the Nice Cashier if he could open a package of adult diapers and try on a sample. Diapers got outraged when she said no.

After walking by my post, he grabbed a Chicago Tribune, parked himself at a register and read. A musty smell wafted from him. When a couple needed to pay for donuts, he fell back a few feet and continued to read. When he finished, he put the paper back on a rack and bought two gallons of milk.

A half hour following Diapers' departure, I had to contend with an even worse smell. Mr. Stinky was in the house.


Mr. Stinky usually shows up late at night in the same dirty T-shirt and jeans. He rocks an odor that consists of funk and urine. The Cool Cashier sniffs hand sanitizer to combat the smell, which lingers after he departs.

He also calls the cashiers "sweetheart" while forking over the money for potato chips. A few nights before my shift, he took it a step further by touching the Nice Cashier's back. She told an assistant manager, who ordered me to chat with Mr. Stinky during his next visit.

When he arrived, I pulled him aside. The same assistant glared while standing behind him at an angle. While trying to ignore the odor, I told Mr. Stinky that customers can't make inappropriate comments to cashiers or touch them.

"I didn't do anything," he said.

"The cashier said you did," the assistant manager said. "If it happens again, I'll ban you from the store."

"Okay," Mr. Stinky said. He found his chips and walked to the cash register. After exchanging small talk with the Nice Cashier, he paid and left. Of course, he did not apologize.

Since then, he has not returned to the store. Fine with me. One down. Three to go.


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


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


Posted on November 12, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
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BOOKS - All About Poop.


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