Walk Down Misery Street

The interviewer, glancing briefly at my resume, inquired why I needed this job. I lied that I was a police officer in Russia and it was my cherished dream to become a cop in New York. However, as I said, I was not yet ready to be a cop in New York, because I had lived here for a short while and this job had many requirements which would take me a long time to meet. But I have to pay my bills now, and this is why I am here, looking for a job as a security guard.

Apparently, the boss liked my guileless, honest explanation. After all, I could not convince him that I dreamed of working as a security guard all my life!

“Okay, man, you’re hired, for 15.50 bucks an hour. It is a decent salary for a first job. I am sending you to a great spot.”

Right after the interview in the office, I was handed a uniform, gray wide pants, a heavy jacket, visor with an emblem, a winter jacket, and two white shirts. The next evening, I was on my way to the new job, which the boss referred to as the “great spot.”

This great spot turned out to be a five-story supermarket in the famous Time Warner skyscraper on Columbus Circle.

My new supervisor greeted me there and, after a brief introduction, commanded me to go to the Security Operations Center to get a walkie-talkie and then quickly get back to patrolling the first floor.

Thirty minutes later, I was walking along the wide corridors, from the revolving doors at one end of the corridor to the door on the other end, eyeing the shop window displays.

The shops were closing, and patrons were exiting the supermarket. I was walking around, waiting for the action to start. I expected that I would be restraining law-breakers every hour, chasing thieves, and discovering terrorists. However, it was quiet and calm there. I kept roaming, waiting for when I will start doing something specific. Yet on the first day I had no clue what my new job entailed, its essence.

I didn’t expect that when one became a security guard, he would find himself in a purely surreal world of what security guards call “making hours.” “How many hours did you do today?” “How many hours do you plan to make tomorrow?” “I want to do three,” etc. These commonplace phrases are found in the security guards’ vocabulary.