Man, it has been a wild ride! I have been pounding the pavement for just over a month now and it has finally paid off. That’s right, I am once again part of the employed world! It has been crazy though. I have been floor surfing for a month now! I wish I remembered what a bed was like! So many exclamations! I was laying in the coffin-like room I now call home for a bit longer and I started thinking about my new job. The prospect of being in a position that is different from what I am used to. It’s a desk job but it is good money and shall be worth it but , as always, I let my mind wonder back to four years ago when I had the greatest job I have ever had.
A job fraught with danger, intrigue, beautiful women and car chases. You may be thinking I was a spy but you may be wrong. I was SAM- 13. A “Mall Cop”.
Has your laughter subsided? Good. Now, I must say that I am being completely truthful when I say that all of those things are true. I lived in the Midwest and worked at a rather large mall in a rather large city. I started working there to pay my way through college. I thought it would be boring but with a director that treated it like the military and a crew of guys who wanted to pretend they were in “Die Hard”, it was a recipe for excitement.
In light of remembering those glory days of wearing the awful black, white and gold uniform and the sweater that made me look rather dashing, here are three of my favorite stories.
Mystery of Where Did The Gun Go
– When being mall security we had a device known as the d3. This was a digital log where you would scan areas for each hour and put in reports of incidents that occur. You then sync it at the end of the night and it uploads to a computer. This had our routes in it as well that told us where to be at any given hour. We affectionately called it the babysitter.
One day I was on the upper tier, being completely bored. We would often go by the Victoria’s Secret store and chat up the young ladies there (Give me a break , I was 22 and wore a uniform). I was talking to a lovely blonde woman when I hear over the radio that a man was spotted at the lower level with a baseball bat. I leave her and head downstairs. I am pretty nonchalant as I go down the escalator. I was young and dumb, thinking nothing can hurt me. It didn’t help that I was 6’7″.
As I got to the bottom I bumped into the man. He was visibly upset, pissed off is more accurate.
“Hey man, you can’t have that in here,” I said, smiling in disbelief.
He then mumbles through a long story that I won’t bore you with. He basically had an altercation with an employee at a shoe store the night before at a club. He came back with a bat looking for a fight and then I hear something an unarmed security guard going solo never wants to here.
“Mother****** has a gun, mane,” he exclaims. I tell him to go take his bat to the car. My jovial nature fades. I can remember this part going slowly. I radio in, “we have a 10-32, person with a gun.”
That was the longest walk. Going to that store with no one in it. I look in the doorway and see a tall employee who reaches into his waistband and then runs to the back room. He comes back out and I cautiously ask him about his weapon. We talk for a moment as he looks at me, fear in his eyes. Then a female employee, the manager, comes out from the back room and we relay the events to her.
It took about ten minutes for multitudes of police and my director and assistant director were there as well. I stood guard out front to not let people in. Three stocky little guys pushed passed me and I yelled, “Hey, we are closed right now. Come back in a while.”
A man with a skull cap turns and gives me the dirtiest look I have ever received. I stood guard and then went back in service. In the following days I found out some things. Those thugs that came in including the mean-mugging savant were related to the employee with the gun and were, in fact, gang related. The police didn’t find the gun because it was hidden by…can you guess?……..
The manager! When I came in, he gave it to her and she placed it in her car outside by slipping through the back loading dock.
Finally, I learned that next time someone has a gun, I should probably wait for back-up or at least someone who has a weapon better than a mini Maglite.
– I was on the lower tier and we got a call from LP at a store, LP meaning Loss Prevention, about a woman needing first aid. I was with a fellow PSO, Public Safety Officer, and we hustled to the back hallways and then sprinted down them until we got outside. I remember seeing a car with its’ front end planted firmly against the side of the mall. I run into the glass entryway and see a PSO giving her first aid. He looks at me and yells, “Gloves, 13.”
I had learned by then to never question anyone when they yell “gloves”. I pulled on my latex gloves from my utility belt and look around. I see a person, won’t be specific for legal reasons…never know, leaned up against the wall. They are coughing and light red blood leaks from the corner of their mouth. The person looks dazed and in pain. I call in to base to get an ambulance out to the location.
“Watch your step, 13,” he says.
I look down and see these bright pink pieces of flesh that the individual had been coughing up. It made a grim, colorful trail that lead to where they sat. I was surprised by how pink they were. Not a deep, ruby red but pink much like opal. The person’s cough brings me back to reality. We administer ice to stop their fever and we give the person water water to stop the dry cough causing more damage.
The ambulance took the person and we find out the whole story. The person had just had throat surgery and a vessel burst in their throat while they were driving. They drove into the building and stumbled in for help. That was one of the first times where the normally funny and crazy job got serious. It could have went wrong in a lot of ways if we hadn’t been first aid certified.
It’s A Trash Can
This is the story I tell everyone about. I got a call about a man in the upper entrance that was causing a disturbance. Me being bored and thinking I was amazing, I went up to the call alone. I got out there along with my best friend/ supervisor. I see a man in rags, digging through the trash. He is mumbling to himself incoherently. His hair disheveled and his beard mangy.
“He looks 10-96. I’m calling pd,” said my friend.
“I’ll keep him occupied,” I said.
You see, 10-96 was code for mentally handicapped and possibly violent individual. So, I begin a conversation with him that I have yet to forget.
He tells me that he is looking through the trash to get differennt things. He pulls out a brand new bottle of orange crush and tells me that it is vintage from the 1920s and it is worth millions. He pulls out a coke can and tells me that the mall is sitting on a gold mine of old coke syrup in a bladder underneath.
A few more of my fellow PSOs come out. My friend signals for them to stay back and he hides behind a corner as well. The man was becoming visibly upset by so many people. I just wanted to calm him down and make it a conversation between us. That way he would be distracted until pd, police department, got on scene.
He yells for me to come to the trash can in a harsh, deep croak. I see my supervisor start to come out but I hold up my hand to stop him.
He shows me a Styrofoam cup with a straw in it and tells me if I put it in the backseat of my car, I can get free satellite radio. He pulls out a crusty, nasty, disgusting, old shirt and says it was his from when he was a kid.
I say, “Oh, okay, so it is like your time capsule, huh?” I was not patronizing by the way. Just trying to be involved. I was scared, actually. It’s hard to calculate the actions of a man who believe you can get XM radio through a straw in a cup.
He answers me and to this day I wonder who was really the “crazy” one, him or me. He blinks twice in disbelief and says, “Nah, man, It’s a trash can.”
He is taken away and I found out from pd that he brain damage from meth use and they knew him well. I was a bit unnerved but I was commended by my director for how I handled it.
There were so many great stories and these were just a few. I got in a car chase, drank beer in the squad car with my fellow officers on an overnight shift (22, remember?), broken up an 11 person fight by myself and been flashed by a woman trying to show that she stole nothing. We wanted to look in the bag not her bra. It was wild and fun and it will never happen again. The people I met are still in my life just not in the same facet.
I have been a videographer, a broadcast journalist, a marketing intern and a Teacher’s Aid since then but I know, when I am sitting at the desk with a plate that says Chris, that just above it, visible only to me, it will read: SAM-13.
Thanks for sticking with me in my absence and through this long story!