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I Am A Security Guard: Where Is The Love?

Many people show their love and appreciation for others on Valentine's Day. And a lot of my store's shoppers did exactly that. They bought balloons, cards, boxes of chocolates and stuffed bears.

Even one of the assistant managers got into the spirit. Normally, he wears a stern expression and doesn't talk much. That night, he smiled and joked with the staff.

"Maybe he got lucky," the Cool Cashier said.

But I did not feel any ardor. The commute to my job turned into a nightmare. Two northbound Red Line trains delayed by equipment issues and a slow bus nearly made me late. Eight bucks in cab fare and tip got me to work two minutes before the start of my shift.

Thus I had a sour mood. Some of the customers didn't help either.

A scruffy man trailed by a woman walked into the store and disappeared in the aisles. Then the man approached an employee I'll call the New Cashier.

"Has the Valentine's Day merchandise had been discounted yet?" he asked.

I braced for impact. The New Cashier has a good heart, but can be flippant when someone ticks her off. Also, she had just dumped her loser boyfriend.

This time, she didn't even smirk. "No," she replied.

The man found his date and resumed looking at goods.

A few minutes later, he approached the cashier again. His date trailed him while talking on a cell phone.

"I heard the stuff would be discounted at 1:00 a.m," he said.

The New Cashier kept her cool again. "I don't know," she said.

The couple left.

The scene presented a juicy hanging curve that I could not resist. "Nothing says love quite like a half-priced Valentine's gift," I said to the cashier.

"Yeah, I want a man like that in my life," she said. "Love on a budget."

We both shared a needed laugh.

The parade of wacky customers continued.

An elderly couple arrived in the store with a toddler. The woman usually wears a frown and makes the cashiers miserable by arguing over prices. A couple of weeks ago, she shopped at the store. She then returned twice to claim she had paid for nail polish. A check of her receipt revealed she hadn't. The Cool Cashier usually gets someone else to ring up the woman's purchases.

On this night, the elderly woman gathered goods in a cart and stood in the New Cashier's line. After she reached the front, the cashier started ringing up the sale. During the transaction, the woman left the line to get one more washcloth. Three other shoppers had to wait until she returned.

One man bought soap with a credit card, but somehow pushed the wrong button and got a cash advance as well. He pouted when the New Cashier told him she could not undo the transaction.

Another man bought a small teddy bear and chatted with the New Cashier. He had a sly grin and took his time telling his story. After he left, the cashier gave me the dirt. Earlier in the week, the man had given a girlfriend a giant bear. Of course, the woman had a jealous husband who tore up the gift. The customer thought the small bear would be easy for the wife to hide.

The coup de grace took place shortly after midnight. Surprisingly, it did not come from a customer. Instead, the boss of the new floor-cleaning crew put on a show.

A couple of weeks earlier, the store hired a new cleaning company. The previous outfit provided pleasant employees who did a good job. But my store ditched them for a different firm that offered a lower bid.

You get what you pay for. The new crew finished its work. The assistant manager looked at the floor. Afterward, he found the crew boss and pointed out some spots that needed additional cleaning. The boss, a barrel-chested man, pouted while doing more scraping and mopping.

Afterward, I asked him if I could check the equipment. It's standard procedure. Floor cleaners at other stores have used scrubbers, buffers and buckets to hide pilfered goods.

The request offended the crew boss. He said he did not steal and had to do additional work for free. His voice grew louder. The Cool Cashier paged the assistant manager, who told the man I had to do my job.

The crew boss complied. I performed a check and said okay.

He left and started loading the equipment into his van. By then, the cashiers had stepped outside for a quick smoke. He launched another tirade by telling them I needed to take a chill pill. The whining continued until he drove away.

Like me, he did not feel any love on Valentine's Day.


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 February 25, 2010

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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