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I Am A Security Guard: Working Stiffs

On a recent Sunday morning, I stood near the front of the store along with the Lazy Cashier and Pitbull. Pitbull cracked jokes about yet another bad date.

"She got the most expensive steak on the menu," he cried. "I did not even get a kiss goodnight."

The Lazy Cashier did not say anything. I laughed.

Pitbull kept riffing. I kept laughing. Then I felt myself getting light in the head. My knees buckled. I passed out and fell backward. The back of my head hit the carpet. My glasses fell backward.

Pitbull helped me up and retrieved my glasses. I appreciated the simple act of kindness. He cared about my welfare.

I thank him, co-workers, and customers who have been nice to me at the store. Although I don't like my job, the kindness of others has helped me to survive.

Some have provided guidance. Others have offered fellowship. All have made my job more tolerable.

* * *

Pitbull earned his nickname the hard way. He's shorter than most men. His intense personality, however, helps him detain shoplifters.

He was the first person I met at the store two years ago. Given that almost all of my work experience had been in downtown offices, I feared working in an inner-city store.

Pitbull helped ease my worries by greeting me warmly when I introduced myself, giving me a tour, and calmly laying down expectations. He told me to watch the goods and help detain shoplifters.

He still gives me tips about known thieves and tells the occasional perverted joke.

* * *

Pitbull shares many qualities with the Head Guard. The Head Guard delivers performance and demands it from others. He's kind with a sense of humor that occasionally borders on the crude side. Unlike Pitbull, he's built like a linebacker and projects a laid-back persona.

The Cool Assistant Manager, who tackled the cigarette thief, has maintained his pleasant disposition despite a recent cut in his pay.

Unlike some other assistants, he will interrupt his work to retrieve a sale item in the basement for a customer.

Although he has talked to me about mistakes I've made, he's given me nothing but positive evaluations.

* * *

Although the Cool Cashier has survived some hard knocks, she remains a very kind and professional type who would give someone the shirt off her back. She has housed relatives, bought snacks for co-workers and driven for late-night meals.

She also watches for scam artists and manages to keep her cool when dealing with ignorant customers. Once she held her tongue when a man yelled over one dime's difference for aluminum foil.

She has a close friendship with the Nice Cashier. The latter is the younger of the two, stands a head shorter, and sports a squeaky voice. Yet, she's also a professional. She knows the prices and locations of goods better than the other night-shift cashiers. The Nice Cashier was tough enough to send me out in the rain to retrieve a $2 DVD from a small boy who had snatched it.

The Cool Assistant Manager, Cool Cashier, and Nice Cashier occasionally work together. Their teamwork makes the store run exceptionally well.

* * *

Although I've griped about customers who are obnoxious, I have to acknowledge others make the night more enjoyable. One is Bear, a tall, beefy nightclub bouncer. He has great stories about knuckleheads dumb enough to challenge him. Despite his rough job, he remains a pleasant, thoughtful man with keen observations about local politics.

Another thoughtful sort, Bulldog, has a strong upper body and walks like John Wayne. His physique looks intimidating, but he can persuade a homeless man to leave the store by gently talking to him and expressing sympathy for his plight.

Two cops, a mixed plainclothes team, occasionally stop for snacks. They often crack jokes about each other in an affectionate way. Because of their camaraderie, I call them Hunter and McCall, the main characters from the Hunter television series.

Other customers with bright smiles and pleasant conversation include Bobby, a waiter; Ron, a bartender; and Marie, a waitress.

As time passed, I realized that all of these people have one thing in common. They are all working stiffs who've managed to remain kind despite doing jobs that are not very glamorous. I've learned a lot from them and remain grateful that they have accepted me.

When I arrived at the store, I didn't know how long I'd last. My first meeting with Pitbull calmed my fears. Thanks to him and others, I have survived in a different world.

-

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

-

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 December 16, 2010


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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