Of those passer-thru jobs I had after resigning from the ministry – from car salesman to clerk to customer service rep to security guard – I find it almost hard to pick an all-time worst contender because each had variables that added to or subtracted from their value, but if I have to pick, I could narrow it down to several. In the running for the worst is car salesman, which you’ve heard me rattle on about elsewhere for the delightful people you have to deal with and the stench of personal failure that flows liberally under every door crack.
One such misadventure simultaneously defined bad security work (there is good security and bad security) while introducing me to why those from the high class hate those from the low class. With a tool-belt on and an itchy uniform, I was posted downtown San Antonio at a VIA bus station right next to the mental hospital. My training was minimal. I was new and it was a post nobody wanted—go figure why they put me there.
High Class and Low Class
Now working security at a bus station is gun-carrying work. You need your firearm, baton (or 4D Maglite is just as good), cuffs, OC spray, gloves, keys, a radio, and good training. The wrong person might feel like a badass, but that is where the training comes in. The real tool for the job is the training and a high enough verbal IQ to talk your way past idiots and their mischief—something most in security simply don’t possess or aren’t trained for.
Knowing your area is very important. The types of people who come through your post you need to know. You have to understand how quickly things can go to shit on a post because the people you are dealing with are very poor, seriously undereducated, mentally ill, whores, pimps, dangerous drifters, or outright criminals on the run. Those that aren’t in the aforementioned classes are the true “poor unfortunate” while the rest are gang members or (aspiring?) gang members, or else stimulating combinations of the above categories.
If you want to see what extreme poverty will do to a person, hang out at a bus station on your “bad part of town.” Anywhere is good enough to see it. Listen to the way they talk. Watch them interact. You can see the difference in intelligence. You can see that what they face on a daily basis is a world of difference from those who don’t need to take the bus.
Providing Security at the Bus Station
To get an idea of what it is like, pretend you are security here for a moment. You are approaching your post for the day. You drive by the benches and rain covers/sun blockers. The benches are all taken. Mostly, those sitting down appear to be older Hispanics, but occasionally, you see some East Indian couples holding hands and stepping onto a bus. You see groups of Mexican girls, only a few college-aged, talking and dressed in black and purple, some with book bags, most without. Part of the challenge is discerning when they are getting into arguments with each other or members of another group they don’t like. Arguments can break into hair-pulling “cat fights” very easily.
Across the street are long masses of people, some black youths, not usually a problem, and some white skater kids. Some of them you recognize because you’ve asked them not to skate here before. They mostly listen. They aren’t your problem, either. The drunks right next to them are. They repeat slogans that sound like they’d be sympathetic, but are telltale signs of aggression like: “I’m a Katrina Survivor!” Everyone who ever said that came to the station and started a fight or tried to!
Angry black Cajun dudes, college-aged or above, with big biceps carrying around open containers of Jim Beam and picking fights or else saying fight-worthy, provocative things are a problem. You’ve got to say something about that open beer container. You can’t let it go. Looks like you are going to have to write up another incident report before you head home.
There are those that are innocent, even sweet in their own way, like the trannies. I can’t relate to being born with gender identity issues, but I do try to relate. It must be tough. You can tell these “beautiful women” aren’t exactly women after less than a minute of noticing that Adam’s apple. But they never cause trouble. The false vets, on the other hand, do cause trouble.
Beware the Homeless
So many people are ready to gush tears of sympathy for the homeless, but you are hearing from someone with more than a few years’ experience dealing with them that the homeless you see on the streets with signs that say “GOD BLESS. Will Work for Food” and/or are tagging along with small dogs to increase sympathy from strangers are either outright frauds or are on the streets because they want to be. They won’t abide by the shelter’s rules and keep getting kicked out or leave. It usually involves alcohol. I know because I’ve talked to many, including honest ones, who admitted this was so.
The false vets are a problem. They aren’t vets, but they love everyone to think they are. There are troubles with real vets, but not often. They are most noticeably physically disabled, sometimes missing legs, but they’ve been through hell and use swearwords and are as rude as anyone can be. The PTSD shows right through. Sad, huh?
On the funny side of things, the occasional pretty but confused-looking woman will emerge from the restroom with her blouse nearly fully unbuttoned. When I or someone points it out, she smiles and resumes the conversation she was having with that invisible something or someone next to her. She heads off to her bus without a beat.
The pervos are there in a seemingly endless supply. I remember this one cool-looking black college kid. He dropped out of college or else got kicked out...probably because he was a perv. We called him “PG” because we used to say “keep it PG around the ladies.” Old PG would walk up to women minding their own business and take off his large headphones and strike up a conversation like normal. It would start out with “How is your day going?” and then move on to things like “What do your panties smell like right now?” He’d be [again] banned from the station, but it would never solve the problem for very long. As with many that came my way, it was amazing this type wasn’t doing 35 to life already.
Psychos and Unsupervised Kids
Now the schizophrenics are scary. The first time you catch a Tourette Syndrome sufferer start cussing up a storm for no reason, it can be shocking. You don’t know how to handle it. But you have to say something. It’s a 30-day ban for repeat use of obscene language in a public setting.
So, you get out of your car and head inside the terminal. You look to your right upon entering where you must ask an old white man with a walker to leave the counter when he curses out the ticket lady for not getting him some special senior discount he wants (on top of the one he already has). He doesn’t make much sense when he talks and the line is getting pretty long. Attached to his walker is a big Walmart bag of medicines you hope you will never have to rely on to live like he does. That hunched-over back and lizard-like skin would make you want to end it all.
You turn to your right and unsupervised toddlers are ramming the gumball machines. You have to ask them to stop, but their ghetto mother sees this as an affront to her parental authority and she curses you and reports you (although nothing happens from it). By the end of your week, those kids or someone else’s will have set off the fire alarm. And this is all just in the first few minutes of arriving—and we never tackled watching the fatherless young Latino gang kids to keep them from rolling joints in the restrooms or tagging the place like stray dogs.
And then there are the smells. The homeless – but not just the homeless – aren’t experts on keeping themselves clean. I have had to remove wheelchair-bound patrons from buses because they smelled so bad that no one else could stand them. Their odor would make you want to lick the urine off of the floor of a New York subway restroom as a delicacy! I never knew chemical elements could come together in such a way as to produce such a vile, horrible odor!
So, now you have at least an idea of what it is like. If any place will make you hate humanity (particularly the low class) in express time, it’s this place, dealing with this crowd. I endured it for a paycheck, though not much of one. Certainly these people are beyond help. Certainly they are beyond learning or even wanting to live. Or maybe that was just a moment of self-reflection I had while observing them?