PW: Ever work security? What traits make for a good security guard?
RL: I worked the door at an underground nightclub a long time ago. That was kind of like being a security guard. I was six three and weighed maybe 150 pounds, so I wasn’t exactly an imposing figure. Luckily, we hired a few bruisers who took care of any real trouble. I once bum-rushed a coked-up transvestite down a flight of stairs without spilling my beer. I was pretty proud of that, not spilling the beer.
During college I worked for four years at a supermarket in South Central Los Angeles. I got to be buddies with a lot of the security guys there. They were mostly angry white dudes who couldn’t get hired as cops. One of them told me he was the guy who did Steve McQueen’s motorcycle jump over the wire in The Great Escape. This was before the Internet, so I couldn’t call him on his bullshit. You could lie like a rug back then. Life was more fun in that way.
One day at the market an old woman dropped dead from a heart attack as she was being arrested for stealing bologna and tuna. Another day an ex-employee showed up on PCP and took off his clothes in the cereal aisle. There was no security around, and I had to handle it. Another time a woman was being forced at knife-point to cash a check. They called me — I was night manager by then — to take care of it. Again no security around, so I went into the liquor department and got the mean old black guy who worked the register there to come with me. Him and the .38 he kept under the counter. Good times, man, good times.
What traits make for a good security guard? As far as I’ve seen, the ability to tolerate long periods of complete boredom interspersed with rare moments of heart-stopping, oh-my-God-it’s-my-job-to-stop-