Reminder: I’ve served as a Military Policeman long enough to reach supervisory positions. A big part of that job was securing facilities and controlling access. I’ve spent some years getting it wrong sometimes, but generally getting good reviews for doing it mostly right. What doesn’t appear in those reviews is how very much I hated such work. Not because it was boring; I knew how to handle that. It’s because it made me feel dirty so often when I was required to be such an asshole.
Let me be so bold as to assert that it was not a simple mismatch between personality and job, but something truly awful about the thing itself.
Surely you realize that a major portion of humanity is terribly uncomfortable when confronted by someone with the means and permission (on some level) to use physical force against them. If the context of that encounter includes elements of surprise and no graceful way to avoid it in the first place, the agitation is even higher. On top of that is the Orwellian impossibility that this perfectly normal agitation is taken as a sign by the armed guard that you are up to no good.
This is a paradox security folks deny publicly, but it’s written into the security guidelines and becomes a joke among members the guard force. If you don’t make it a joke, you’ll refuse to do the job. In other words, it’s a diabolical plan to put the squeeze on folks for no good reason. You sucker them into approaching and offer no graceful exit.
Meanwhile, we all know that people who are a security threat won’t give themselves away that easily. Sure, fools can be trapped and manipulated into doing something they’d rather not do, but it doesn’t take much training to recognize their agitation as quite different from the agitation of a fearful victim of abusive security procedures.
On top of all this, the more poorly paid and trained the guards are, the worse they treat everyone trying to enter this supposedly secure facility. Trust me; I’ve read the high-level studies aimed at reforming bad security procedures. The large bureaucratic institutions actually wallow in human misery and cannot imagine a serve-the-customer attitude. Inspiring confidence in the security system? The bureaucrat cannot imagine such a thing.
And I’ve been on the receiving end of this abuse, as well. It was all the more infuriating because of my professional knowledge of how wrong it was. Trust me: Good sensible people would refuse to work in security operations. What’s left are thousands of idiots who are morally unfit, who by their overwhelming presence help to shape the worst of security policies. Most guards are either blithering idiots or sadistic goons who enjoy making you cry.
I took a lot of heat for refusing to conform to that image, but somehow it didn’t show up on paper. By the time you get into the higher ranks, you become cynical. My superiors knew I was very frustrated but that wouldn’t justify a bad review. Toward the end, I did everything I could to make it comfortable for people coming through that gate. That’s when my superiors recommended me for other specialized work.
Here’s the dilemma for us today: Private security is the worst there is, and it’s a serious growth industry in America today. You and I will encounter it more and more every where we go. It’s already in a lot of places where it can do no good at all, but it makes the bureaucrats comfortable. It’s going to get worse.
I cannot reach out and make you less fearful about this. What I can do is trust God to use my words to help you see a way through these tribulations. By explaining the background, I hope you’ll see through it more clearly than before. Let your sense of conviction guide you through the coming days.