Hotel Security Career - Tales From the Field
For those of you thinking of taking up a career in security work, here's a little slice of life from my own experience:
I worked security jobs as my first career out of high school. This enabled me to work my way through higher education and keep an income stream coming. Security work is normally the best choice for that kind of situation; you certainly don't want menial labor, it pays better than most entry-level unskilled jobs, and if you get the right post you can bring your homework with you. Most security supervisors won't care if you bring books and homework with you - at least they know you aren't going to sleep on the job!
But the post that sticks out in my memory as not being the one you can bring homework to was the hotel post. I pulled this stint for the better part of a year, before they rotated me out to a more sedate position. The hotel was known throughout the security company as their "action post". Boy, was it ever!
First off, it was only two blocks from Disneyland in California, so we had guests year-round. Next, it had a formal restaurant attached, which had been one of the more happening spots in the metro Orange County area until the current owners of the chain bought it out. Now the restaurant was more of a sports bar and grill. Next, we had banquet/ball rooms, which were booked throughout the year for conventions, receptions, group events, and just about everything from high school proms to weddings. Now on top of that, add 1000 rooms in three buildings, plus a pool and jacuzzi.
There was never a quiet moment. My first duty on arriving on the graveyard shift was to close the pool at 10 PM. The pool was usually full of some group like three busloads of tourists who just got here half an hour ago from Arizona (summer) or Minnesota (winter) and were just getting a full-scale party going, when out comes the guard to kick them all out and lock it up. If I was running for a popularity contest, that blew my chances right there, and the night was just starting. Diplomatically convincing 50 people to abandon the pool was an exercise in crowd control which I won every night. We had to do this, because the noise would echo between the buildings and if we didn't close the pool we'd have 500 guests complaining that they couldn't sleep!
Then there might be an event or three going on in the three banquet rooms. These might be just winding down, but the event coordinators seemed to get a perverse thrill out of creatively booking the different groups in the banquet rooms so they'd come out in the hallway and clash. A Muslim wedding in Banquet room 1, a teen Christian Awana club event in Banquet room 2, and a goth/punk/alternative lifestyle singles dance in Banquet 3, for instance. I pictured the event coordinators cackling and rubbing their hands in glee, "Let's see how the guard keeps THOSE THREE from fighting!" Quite a few of my calls were for breaking up fights, especially when alcohol was involved.
If I successfully got the pool and courtyard dumped out and the banquets to a peaceful conclusion, then it was time to watch the bar at the restaurant close at 2AM. The barkeep needed me on hand in case anybody got rowdy. They might get rowdy if we had to call a cab for them to go home when they'd rather not leave the car behind, but usually things went smoothly and I hardly even found people passed out in the bushes.
Then the actual business of patrolling the hotel through the night began. If I was lucky, we had a pretty sedate group of guests whose primary motivation was to actually sleep at night. If not, I might deal with noisy guests that everybody complained about, rooms full of kids jumping out their third story window to bound on the chain link enclosed yard below, unrequited lovers and the disputes they dragged out into the lobby, and the occasional college kegger. Quite a few times, we had drug dealers, who would send one person to book a room, then pull around back, unload their product, and do business for the city all night. They were a little hard to miss with people coming and going all night and the lobby switchboard showing a phone call every second at 3AM.
At about 5:30AM the checkouts began. These were people eager to get out and catch their flight out of town, back home, or to the next stop. This little flurry of activity would be dealt with by the desk staff, and I primarily helped by keeping out of the way... and rounding up the last of the night's action. By the way, the hotel staff was always around, so I had plenty of "back-up", and in fact at least as far as my co-workers were concerned, they were wonderful people.
I was actually on a first-name basis with the city police, so often did I have to call them to deal with the more troublesome guests. In the course of my time there, I busted five dope rings, foiled two attempted burglaries, caught three homeless people sneaking onto the property (one of whom was in the jacuzzi at 3AM in full view of the windows looking down on the courtyard), busted half a dozen underage drinking parties, and interrupted countless couples making out in their car in our expansive, dark, cozy parking lot, where I pointed out that maybe what they were doing wouldn't look so good to families with kids coming home from Disneyland.
No, this isn't a typical security job at all. Most night watch jobs involve a sleepy factory complex where your toughest problem is keeping awake and your most active time is when you run a punch clock around to make rounds. But this is just one example to show... how wild it gets!
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