Confessions of a Corporate Security Guard

It's 3AM, Do You Know Who's Watching Your Stuff?

security guardAs the sun goes down and the magnetic doors clamp closed, a band of brothers (and sisters) begin their day so you can sleep well at night. The security guard is one of the most common sights in today's corporate culture -- but other than a quick wave or the head nod or the "Have a nice day" that you exchange with your local security professional, how well do you know them, and what they do when you are gone?

Well, it's time to find out.

I have been working security for over six years. I've worked for several companies and have worked at many different kinds of accounts -- but there has always been one consistent theme regardless of my assigned location: Nobody has ever asked what my name is. Other than the people I work with, or my immediate supervisor or manager, I've never had someone ask me my name. That's OK, because knowing my name shouldn't be your main concern. What I do inside your office when your gone, should be.

Keeping your secrets

Take a minute to think about what you leave behind when your day is over and you head home for the night. Your laptop? Your bills with account numbers and other personal information on them? Your prescriptions? Yes, I have access to all of it. But it's OK, you can relax. I'm not going to tell anyone you take medicine for shingles. Just make sure you put the bottle in your desk drawer next time, and not leave it on the edge of your desk so it can fall off and have someone like me come along and pick it up. Although, the truth of the matter is you want me to find your medicine. And I'll tell you why:

There are two types of security guards. The kind that care, and the kind that would rather stick a fork in their eye than guard your things. Fortunately for you, I'm the caring type. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority. (What do you expect for $9 an hour? There's a reason they say "You get what you pay for.")

Doing the job

So, what's a typical work day (or night) for a security guard?

Security Guard Overview

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, security guards held approximately 1.1 million jobs in 2008. Employment opportunities for security guards are expected to grow faster than average through 2018.

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$23,460: Median annual wages security guards according to the May 2008 BLS report.

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Well it all starts with showing up on time -- which also isn't always assured. Many guards work security as a second job. Single mothers are common, as are college students. Which means other matters can take precedent over being at work on time. Making sure the baby sitter shows up or a classroom lab exam ends as scheduled, can put a dent in the "on-time" performance. But no matter, most supervisors and managers are unsympathetic and routinely write up and fire folks without blinking an eye. This is why turnover is so prevalent in the profession, and one of the root causes for the less-than-stellar job performance of most security outfits. But, I digress.

After a guard arrives, he or she takes stock of what the previous shift has encountered. Broken door locks, water leaks, malfunctioning alarm systems, intruders, unexplained odors, and all other relevant information is "passed on" to the arriving shift. And then the work begins: watching static video monitors that rarely reveal anything and walking around the property for the next eight hours. As I mentioned, I'm one of the kind of security guards that care. So, I do my appointed rounds. I check to make sure doors are locked. I check to make sure the lights are out. And I check to make sure your coffee warmer or space heater is turned off. (Which is why I found your medicine on the floor.) I've encountered homeless people in hallways, and raccoons in stairwells. I've been spit at, threatened, and chased. I've also helped lost people find their car and kept drunk people from getting in their car. I have found and returned wallets, paychecks, and cell phones.

Enjoying the "down" time

But, there's one thing I enjoy most of all:

The quiet. Working from 11PM to 7AM may be isolated and lonely, but that's exactly why I do it. In between making my rounds and checking the video monitors, I write. I write blogs, short stories, screenplays, and yes, articles. As a matter of fact, I'm at work right now. Which is why I have to end this, because I have to go on another patrol.

But please do me a favor:

Along with making sure you turn off your office lights and unplug your space heater, and keeping your prescriptions in your desk, take a moment to truly say "hello" to your security guards and go ahead and ask them their name. It may make the difference in having them actually want to watch your stuff or not... at 3AM or otherwise.

Next:Confessions of a 911 Operator

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