In recent years, high profile cases of security guards being abused or abusive have been reported via online media. Well, those few cases were brought into the cold light of day to be commented on by the general public but, as an industry insider, I can assure you that such unhappy incidents happen on an almost daily basis.
So by putting out this list here, I hope that those of you who have never worked as a security guard before can understand our job better. And with this understanding, perhaps we will be treated better by our clients and members of the public.
#1. Threats Of Bodily Harm
We get that a lot, due to the nature of our job.
Security guards, even though they are usually called “security officers” nowadays, do not have the powers of actual peace officers. Such as the power to lay charges. And the public knows this. That’s why we are considered safe targets for abuse and threats. And so, words that your average “beng” will never ever dare say to a real cop can be liberally heaped on security guards.
But despite not having great powers, we are still burdened with responsibilities. If you happen to spot delinquents smoking or exhibiting rowdy behaviour at the mall, who do you call? Yes, the security guards.
#2. Actually Getting Hit
It happens. From time to time. We have all seen the videos. The fare evader hitting a security guard at Enggor Street. The security manager slapping and punching his subordinates at a condominium. The security guard and delinquent fighting at The Cathay. And like I said earlier, unhappy things happen to security guards on an almost daily basis, so there are probably hundreds of such incidents that haven’t seen the light of day.
Also, as if to rub salt into injury, some security guards who were assualted either resigned “voluntarily” or were taken out of their usual stomping grounds and transfered to unfamiliar work assignments.
#3. Delayed Salary Payments
When I started working in this industry back in 1999, I heard a horrible story from a fellow guard who was working at a mall. For nearly a month, his employer had been paying the guards at the mall with nasi lemak. Yes, nasi lemak instead of cash.
See, they were supposed to be paid in cash every week but, somehow, their agency kept delaying payments. If I remember correctly, the reason given was “no cash flow”. But being the nice boss that he was, the agency owner went down to the mall every day to reward his employees with nasi lemak. Compensation for a 12-hour shift.
At least, with that one meal per day, my friend wouldn’t starve so he kept on showing up for work. So yeah, they were just getting strung along with meals of nasi lemak until the boss decided to pay their salaries.
And then in 2009, I myself became the victim of delayed salary payments. I remember I had to beg and pester my Operations Manager for my salary every single week, and it felt like I was working as a debt collector rather than a security guard. Eventually I got fed up and resigned.
We security guards have to put up with long working hours and a lot of unpleasant situations at work, so is it really too much to ask for that our employers pay our salaries ON TIME? I don’t think so.
Let us not get into a religious or scientific debate here. I don’t care if you don’t believe in the supernatural world and spirits and other things that go bump in the night. Just know that there are many security guards who do, and they are the ones who have to work the night shift at empty office buildings and out-of-the-way warehouses.
Also, most security guards do not have college degrees in disciplines like physics and neuroscience, so they cannot readily come up with non-scary explanations like “convection causes cold spots” and “sleep deprivation causes visual hallucinations” to explain away their strange experiences on the job.
But even if you have a host of scientific facts to fall back on, can you really recall them to mind at 3 a.m. in the morning when you suddenly start seeing shadowy figures here and there? And in all likelihood, you will be alone. That’s right, alone. Unlike soldiers and police officers, we don’t patrol in pairs or groups.
Professional ghost hunters sure have it easy in this regard. When a ghost hunter has to go investigate hauntings, he does so with teams of cameramen, lighting technicians and miscellaneous gophers. A security guard has to walk through allegedly haunted buildings alone.
#5. No Life Due To Long Work Hours
Well, what can you actually do for leisure when you are working 12 hours per day and 72 hours per week?
It’s fine if you only have superficial interest in an indoor hobby like stamp collecting. You can stay in on your one off day a week to sort out your collection. No problem there. But something that requires a deeper contribution of time and energy from you is probably impossible. When I was writing Guards Gone Wild!, I had to stop working as a full-time guard and work weekends only in order to make any kind of progress. And during the final leg of manuscript writing, when I had to give my all and everything, I had to stop working completely.
So if you are the philosophical type and think that Life is more than just making money to eat and defecate, then you should avoid working as a full-time guard. The combined stress from the job itself and your unfulfiled desires to make something out of yourself will make you extremely unhappy.
Oh yeah, needless to say, having a meaningful dating life is also impossible.
Okay, now that I am done explaining what the 5 stresses are, I have something to say to my fellow guards.
Don’t underestimate the amount of stress you can accumulate from having to deal with volatile people and situations for 72 hours a week. So talk to someone if you are having problems at work and don’t just bottle up your feelings. If you find it difficult to talk to high-handed administrators or unsympathetic colleagues, there’s always the internet.
About The Author:
Loh Teck Yong is a security guard who aspires to become a published writer. His completed manuscript, Guards Gone Wild!, is a collection of short stories about his adventures in the private security industry. He can be found at his blog – Guards Gone Wild.