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I Am a Security Guard: Karma and Condoms

One night about 1:30 a.m., a tall, thin man chained a bike to a rail near the store's entrance. Although he wore a dirty T-shirt and torn shorts, he strutted toward me as though he were too cool for school. He held a two-pack of Nyquil and a receipt. The visitor sought a refund. I paged an assistant manager.

I knew he was bad news because he's tried this scam before. He goes to another store in the chain and rummages through its trash for a receipt. Then he steals the item on the receipt in order to claim a refund. Because the original store has given him too many bogus refunds, he visits my store. Usually, he fails.

On this night, the man showed the Nyquil and receipt to an assistant manager. The assistant, a taciturn type with stern eyes, scanned the items. Then he told the man to go back to the original store. The thief hopped on his bike and pedaled away.

Of course, the Nyquil thief eventually notched a win. He showed up a week later and hooked up with a different assistant manager. I told the manager that a co-worker had just made him take a hike. The new fell on deaf ears. This time, the thief got his money.

That is one of several recent noteworthy events that have taken place at the store. This column contains several more for your enlightenment.

Dude, Where's My Car?
On a recent Tuesday night, a man spent about 15 minutes in the store before he selected a pair of headphones. After paying for the goods, he headed to the parking lot. Then, he ran back into the store. "They towed my car!" he screamed.

His eyes grew wide and his mouth quivered as he recounted his ordeal. According to him, the towing company claimed he had left the car in the lot without shopping.

The man asked me to call the towing company and verify that he had shopped at the store. I declined to get involved. He asked to speak to a higher authority. I paged an assistant manager.

After hearing the customer's tale of woe, the assistant manager called the towing company. Of course, the customer had lied. He had parked in a spot designated for handicapped drivers. Therefore, his car got towed.

Bad Karma
Later that same night, a man wearing a pink sweater, black skirt and tall black boots paid for his merchandise and left. A man in line chuckled.

The mirth annoyed me. Truth be told, that cross-dresser ranks among the store's most polite customers.

The laughing man got his reward. He tried to use his food stamps card, known as LINK, to pay for a bottle of orange juice and a donut. But he forgot his personal identification number. He left empty-handed.

Don't Ask Don't Tell
Occasionally, someone waiting in line will ask me what time I get off work. I usually say, "In the morning." If the customer persists, I repeat my answer.

The response makes me look like a rude jerk, but I give it to protect myself and the store. I don't know how the questioner will use the information. What if the person wants to stalk me or shoplift a half-hour after I leave? I can't take the chance.

In short, never ask a security guard that question.

TMI
Occasionally, a man will buy condoms with his date in tow. Perhaps the guy deserves some credit for protecting himself and the woman. But the scene always gives me the creeps. At least two other people, the guard on duty and the cashier, know the woman's business. Men should consider the dignity of their friends and buy the gear ahead of time.

I'm Not The Police
A couple with three children walked into the store on a recent Monday night. One little boy grabbed a bag of M&Ms. His mother pulled him away, pointed at me and said "policia." The little boy stared at me while his mother looked at makeup.

I hear that warning at least once a week. It makes me uncomfortable because it scares the kid and makes me feel like an ogre. I'm not a monster. I'm a humble third-shift security guard trying to survive the recession.

The family eventually took a spot in the New Cashier's line. The boy resumed staring at me. I smiled and waved. He continued to stare, but did not wave back.

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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 June 22, 2010


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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