Monday, April 11, 2016

The dangerous life of a mall cop

I am sure there are hazards associated with the job, but do mall security guards really need to wear bullet-proof vests?
I was strolling through a local mall recently when a SWAT wannabe walked by with his Kevlar-covered chest puffed out in a you-better-not-mess-with-me strut.
He did look pretty fearsome I must admit, and once I was done chuckling at the show of machismo, I was actually almost close to being intimidated.
I’m all about the safety, ask anyone, but I just thought the body armor was a little over the top. Or maybe the black vest was fine, but the swagger of the little man wearing it was the over-the-top part.
Either way, something was over the top and, for me anyway, kind of humorous.
I mean it was a mall, not some drug-addled, inner-city ghetto where he had to take down crack dealers on a regular basis. Not all security guards wear the vests, but I have seen a few mall guards donning the black body armor.
I can understand why there is a need for security, and to be honest with you, it is not a job I would want because who wants to deal with obnoxious and ignorant shoppers all day? I guess there is the possibility of being stabbed and in that case the vest would come in handy.
I hope it would anyway. If the thing can stop a bullet, I assume it can stop a knife. So I guess there is some justification for wearing a bullet-proof vest, but the sniper helmet, balaclava and jump boots were definitely too much.
I saw some security guards working the downtown core, and for those guys I could appreciate the vests because of their clientele, but having been to the mall many times in my life I have never viewed it as a hotbed of danger.
The downtown security guards need a certain attitude, a certain aura to do their job. They need an aura of, “Mess with me and you will be wearing your butt as a hat.”
The ones I saw were also quite big and strong and somewhat scary looking, but that is kind of an occupational requirement for those guys.
I talked to one and he said it was not unheard of to get into a “scuffle” on a regular basis.
Not to diminish the dangers the mall guards face, I have just never felt my safety was marginalized while walking past the food court.
“Hit the ground, a small child is running down the hall.”
“Everybody scramble, a group of teens are talking loudly and laughing.”
I did feel some concern the last time I was in a mall in the United States. I half expected a crazed gunman to come in and start shooting people at random because the store did not have his favourite type of cheese doodles.
At 6’4” tall, I would make an easy target.
“I hate tall, bald guys. I was frightened by a tall bald guy once when I was a kid.”
I wished I was wearing a bullet-proof vest, and bullet-proof underwear (with optional diaper attachment because if someone starts shooting…), and a bullet-proof helmet and gloves and neck protector and – well, basically just wrap me in Kevlar like a mummy and point in the direction of the tool store.
The most frightened I have ever been in a mall in Canada was when it was just my wife and myself and I noticed a sign at a ladies clothing store boasting “Everything 50 per cent off.”
Eeeek, nooooooo.
I had to think and act fast. At first I tried to walk between her and the sign hoping she would not see, but felt that tactic left too much to chance, so I tried distracting her.
“Hey look over there. Doesn’t that guy resemble Brad Pitt?”
My cleverness turned out to be my demise as she checked out the Brad Pitt look-a-like, reflected in the window where Billy McStudbagel was walking past was the 50 per cent off sign.
Of course in the window it was “ffo tnec rep 05” but she quickly reversed the numbers and letters and spun on her heels like a military drill sergeant and headed straight to the store.
It was like an invisible force was drawing her.
I began to protest, but upon hearing my words of disharmony, a security guard, dressed from head to toe in medieval battle armor, intervened and asked me if everything was alright.
Everything was fine, and besides who could argue with someone dressed like King Arthur (with a bullet-proof vest of course.)

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

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