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I Am A Security Guard: Origins Part 2

The shift from my old office job to my first security gig proved smooth and pleasant. Training sessions had provided valuable tips about service to clients. The assignment to a condominium building west of the Loop represented proof of a fairy godmother. Most of the tenants were yuppies. I assumed they possessed social skills. I looked forward to handling the job.

On the first day, I arrived in full uniform: a blue blazer, white shirt, black tie, gray slacks, and black shoes.

The supervisor, a short man with a warm smile, showed me around the building. Afterward, he gave me the duties: watch the security monitor, check in visitors, log in deliveries, handle emergency phone calls and write reports. He also introduced me to the other guards and several tenants. Everyone greeted me politely.

Finally, I plunged into the job. I sat by myself at the security desk most of the time. That suited my personality. I tend to be a loner.

The security company's emphasis on keeping a professional demeanor paid off on a Saturday night.

While watching the monitor, I saw two men climb a fence and walk into the building's courtyard. Alarmed and irritated, I walked outside and saw them standing with others. They were guests of a man hosting a party. I calmed down and asked them to enter through a door next time. Then I talked to the tenant. I explained the situation and he apologized.

But dark clouds soon appeared.

The firm had given me four days per week, a total of 32 hours. According to the company's handbook, that amount was three short of the standard for full-time status. That meant no benefits. Later the company neglected to pay me for a few days of work due to a missing time sheet.

As time passed, it became clear that several of the guards were lazy, incompetent or both.

The supervisor liked to call off, especially after a night of drinking. The guard who relieved me had a nasty habit of showing up late or not at all. The teammate I relieved often left early. Another guard liked to take excessively long breaks.

One night, an especially dumb guard let a male visitor proceed to a woman's unit without calling her. The tenant had given the visitor a key while they had been dating. Yet, no employee knew she had recently dumped him. The woman freaked out after awakening and seeing him in the bedroom.

The company did not punish the lackadaisical employees. That forced the rest of the crew to stay even more vigilant and work extended shifts. Morale deteriorated.

Dealing with whiny tenants made matters even worse.

One was the younger half of a lesbian couple. One afternoon, she yelled at me in front of another resident. She claimed I had not left a voice mail about flowers left at the desk for her. I had in fact left a message on her answering machine and taped a note to her mailbox.

Taking abuse from a liar made me boil.

A month after the controversy, she walked past the desk without making eye contact with me. A younger woman, who did not live in the building, closely followed her. Another guard told me the scoop. The tenant often cheated on her partner.

Other condo owners exhibited bad behavior. One woman griped whenever she had to wait two minutes for a cab. One man threw loud parties packed with rude guests. Another complained about a car left in a no-parking zone in front of the building. A few days later, he put his car in the same spot.

Between the bad guards and obnoxious residents, I began to dread coming to work.

My misery ended after only six months at the job.

The building's board started evaluating my company at the same time a guard committed a major gaffe. Thieves broke into the parking garage overnight and vandalized two cars. The guard who often showed up late did not call police because he had been sleeping on the job.

The incident morphed into the straw that broke the camel's back. When the security contract expired, the board hired another company. That ended my assignment.

My company found another site for me two weeks later. But given my negative experience with the firm, I chose temp work and later started my current security gig.

Two months after my last day at the condominium, the back pay arrived in the mail. Too little, too late.


Part 1.


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 October 13, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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