Questions from a hopeless newbie

Flea

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Yes, that's right! I'm working security!! Sort of ...

A major new sports arena had its opening in my home town last night, and I answered the cattle call for staff. I've ushered at theaters and art houses for years, herding hipsters and little old ladies back and forth, and it's fun. Until now I've always done it on a volunteer basis.

So when I reported for duty last night I expected it would be about the same, give or take 75 decibels. Instead I found myself assigned to a position that I think of as Security Lite. I was on the floor at a staircase right under the home team goal, behind the cheerleaders. ( :fanboy: ) I was supposed to direct traffic, and tell most people not to use these particular stairs unless they have one of 10 different types of access pass. Well and good. Since it was opening night they tweaked the rules every half hour and I kept track as best I could. There was one point where I screwed up and let someone through without asking any questions, and rightly got a Talking To for that.

For the most part I think I did pretty well. My section was all the millionaire VIPs who'd contributed big bucks to the arena, and they were cool! I took a couple of pictures for them, and shepherded a littlun back to her seat a few times.

As the final buzzer went off, one of the real security guys came over and told me that my stairs were strictly for UP use for the rest of the night. "Nobody comes down." Okay. I wanted to ask him how literal that was, but he vanished. People were pretty cool for the most part except for one princess. Either she was very wealthy or had a severe compulsive shopping problem - Hollywood hair, perfect clothes with tons of makeup, and a bearing that screamed entitlement. "I'm very sorry ma'am, these stairs are for exit only." But - (gasp!) - I have to talk to [the billionaire tycoon the arena is named after!!] And she forced her way past me.

Oddly, there was no Talking To for that. It's a small city so maybe there was some unspoken thing about Who's Who. I've only lived here for a few months so there's no way I could recognize any bigwigs by sight. My job title was usher, and there was a real security guy nearby and a LEO and neither of them lifted a finger. Earlier I did get a Talking To for taking off my glasses and scritching my eyelid, so it's not like they weren't paying attention.

So ... for the bouncers here, how would you handle a situation like that? How literal is "nobody" at a time like that? And how emphatic do you get, especially when there are more qualified people nearby? I wasn't about to get physical for at least a dozen excellent reasons.

As touchy as my immediate supervisor was I'm a little afraid to bring this up to ask about it.
 

jks9199

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You need to talk to your supervisor. As an usher, I wouldn't expect your job to be more than guiding people and being the first "stop here" person. The real "stopper" should have been the security officer, backed up by the LEO. It sounds a whole lot like they were taking advantage of the new employee not to do their job. They also shouldn't be changing the access rules in such a haphazard manner; you can't keep it straight if they change the rules and permissions every few minutes. You have every right to expect them to explain your job to you properly.

Also -- if they're chewing you out over something like scratching your eyes... they really need to start working. Heaven forbid you sneeze or blink...
 
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Flea

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You need to talk to your supervisor. As an usher, I wouldn't expect your job to be more than guiding people and being the first "stop here" person. The real "stopper" should have been the security officer, backed up by the LEO. It sounds a whole lot like they were taking advantage of the new employee not to do their job.

This afternoon I was telling a friend about it; he's worked for the same company for years at a different venue. As soon as I got to the "and they put me on the floor" part, he slapped his forehead. "There's corporate logic for you! Put a total first-timer in one of the most important positions!" And he's right.

Last night was the very first event at a completely new facility. They have lots of people they know well whom they've imported from other venues, and it would have been a lot smarter to put one of them in this position. After clocking out I walked past other ushers wearing Five Year Buttons on their vests standing out in the corridors.

They had another seasoned usher right next to me, technically in another position. After the security guy told me to screen the stairs, they talked separately to him. In the chaos of the crowd I only noticed after quite a while that he was at the bottom of the stairs (to my 10 steps up) as backup. It was too loud for me to make out what he was telling people, so I can only assume they assigned him to back me up. *shrug* It would have been nice for me to know whether he was backing me up, or doing something else entirely.

They also shouldn't be changing the access rules in such a haphazard manner; you can't keep it straight if they change the rules and permissions every few minutes. You have every right to expect them to explain your job to you properly.

Yes, absolutely. Since "nobody" was left to my discretion, I decided it included just about everyone. It was the main staircase for the press, the ball boys, lots of miscellaneous arena employees, and of course, all the millionaire VIPs. Am I supposed to block the press? The arena staff? I think not. I started blocking the VIPs, but with no feedback from anywhere on that, I finally just let them through too. I just blocked the obvious gawkers. Not even my "backup" gave me any feedback. I was on my own with that.

Also -- if they're chewing you out over something like scratching your eyes... they really need to start working. Heaven forbid you sneeze or blink...

My co-usher was standing looking out over the audience the whole time. "I'm trying my best not to watch the game!" My position was such that I pretty much had to. He dropped some other random kernels of wisdom like that, so maybe he was trying to mentor me. He's the one who jumped on me over The Eye Booger Conundrum.

My next shift is tomorrow, and I'm pretty apathetic about the whole thing right now. I don't expect anyone to hold my hand, but it's nice not to be yelled at the first time I make a mistake. Basically, I'm in it for the next opening at the arthouse. As soon as I can get paid for seeing the symphony, I'm outta there. :uhyeah: But I still have some pride in wanting to do a good job in the meantime.
 

jks9199

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Did they give you any training or just hand you vest and say "Go forth and ush"?

This company isn't impressing me from what you're saying...
 
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Flea

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'Deed.

When I applied I was very honest about having ushered at the theater. We had our orientation last Sunday where they walked us around and discussed customer service at length. It's silly, but I can't help but wonder if they put me on the floor for the sake of the cameras - I have adorable doe eyes and maybe they thought it would be good PR, just like the hawt cheerleaders.

At any rate I'll do my best to stick it out. I've been out of work for three months now and I'm desperate. I'll do just about anything that doesn't involve wearing pasties.
 

Ken Morgan

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'Deed.

When I applied I was very honest about having ushered at the theater. We had our orientation last Sunday where they walked us around and discussed customer service at length. It's silly, but I can't help but wonder if they put me on the floor for the sake of the cameras - I have adorable doe eyes and maybe they thought it would be good PR, just like the hawt cheerleaders.

At any rate I'll do my best to stick it out. I've been out of work for three months now and I'm desperate. I'll do just about anything that doesn't involve wearing pasties.

? You have issues with pasties??
 

mook jong man

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Mmmm pasties.



menu-pasties.jpg
 

Brian King

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Welcome to the world of security Flea. It is as much art form as science and has rules and a feel of all its own. To drift the thread from pastries and pasties back towards the subject. Ill start a couple of unofficial rules to try to keep in mind. There are many more.

First the head game.
1. Try to treat all people as you would want to be treated. From the person picking up the trash to the VIPs (this includes your employers and fellow employees). Always be professional and courteous to them all. This starts with your mental attitude. If you lose your respect for the people around you not only will it then be a unhealthy environment for you but your physical mannerisms and articulations will betray your thoughts and feelings. Remember that all of us are human, fallible and imperfect beings. When we realize this it allows us to accept others as they are, to see them as they really are and not the facade that they are presenting to the world. This vision and acceptance gives us the power to not take personal any of their attacks on our person whether verbal or physical. Work on learning how to maintain your professional comportment no matter what the situation at hand. If you are still practicing Systema the various breathing lessons will facilitate these things.
2. Remember what your job/duty is. You are there to safely facilitate people gathering and having fun. At the end of the night you go home with a few more dollars in your pocket and some interesting observations and stories. Protect your soul but remember that you are not a morals judge or karma facilitator, although it is nice to be on hand when murphy and karma combine to those that are deserving. Learn to see the happenings and situations around you as your own personal no cost life university.
3. Their emergencies, whatever they might be are not necessarily your emergencies. If it is their time to bleed out, have their heart stop, suffocate, then it is your time and job to remain calm and professional. Good people sometimes die or become horribly crippled and there is nothing that could have been done to prevent it. Learn to healthily deal with any guilt, excess tensions and stress. Do not keep it inside and do not bring it home. Again most Systema drills will also help with these things if you study the lessons that the various drills can offer.
4. Have and maintain your boundaries. You are not to be mishandled or abused. Know what your buttons are and how to keep them from being pushed and how to deal with them should they be pushed despite your efforts (poznai sebia). Practice this survival skill so that you will not be in shock or freeze when manipulators and offenders try you out, and yes they will try you out. Deal with it.
5. Increase your sphere of awareness and sensitivity. If you try to watch and see evereything you will over excite your nervous system which causes excess stress and given enough will damage you. Instead gather a internal map of feelings, learn to feel when something is about to kick off, learn to recognize a troubled person or a person in trouble with-in a crowd. Learn to hear separately with-in all the other loud distracting sounds. A voice raised in combative anger or fear sounds much different to a trained ear than a voice merely raised by excitement of the moment. A glass breaking from slipping sounds different from one thrown. When doing the work keep aware of who and what is behind you. A acquaintance I knew long ago suffered multiple stab wounds to his his back (high teens or low twenty something stab wounds) he received while forcibly walking a belligerent up the stairs and outside from a downstairs club. He felt the repeated contact against his back but it was just the jerks girlfriend and the punches were not that hard. He didnt see the icepick in her hand. He didnt realize he had been injured until he sat down on a bar stool and felt the squishiness of the seat. Using a bar rag to wipe up the spelt booze was rather surprised to see it bloody. Other than experience, remaining calm and curious helps maintain awareness of the surroundings and carrying on of the crowds.


Physical skill sets to practice
1. Learn to work in very crowded conditions. It seems every week we read stories of hundreds of people killed in stampedes. It behoves any person that might find themselves in these kinds of situations to have some training on how to recognize the dangers and how to survive them if caught up in one. Crowds are a like a beast. They have a feel and life of their own. The anonymity of them makes the excitement contagious flaming and magnifying the arousals that can easily get out of control. That same anonymity of the crowd allows people to not get involved and Flea they will watch you bleed without a thought of helping. Learning how to recruit assistance is a great survival skill that should be practiced. Konstantins and Vladimirs work and drills Flea offer great insights into these situations.
2. Learn to work very close. The noise and environment means that people will be inside your comfort zone, develop methods of both dealing with the often subtle stress this causes you, and how to subtly position yourself and others when approached so that if it is an ambush you have a better chance of successfully dealing with it. Make both a natural autonomic habit. The same skills will allow you to better approach others, positioning yourself to do the work, positioning yourself to manipulate their tensions to give yourself advantage in the work, be it physical work or merely a verbal negotiation.
3. Learn to use contact to your benefit. Being in close physical contact allows a person to use that contact to more easily read another. A hand placed strategically can bring calmness and reassurance, that same touch can feel for weapons, can feel for pulse rate and excess muscular tensions and/or perspiration. With practice that touch does not have to be a hand but any body on body contact can offer lots of information to those that know how to read it. Understanding that body contact is another method of communication is a powerful tool that can be used both defensively and just as important for this discussion offensively. That same diagnostic touch can also become a barrier, it can be a means of saying enough nonsense, it can easily turn into a method of body manipulation for take down or control or can turn into a percussion tool depending on the need of the moment.
4. Learn to recognize and to make obstacles into opportunities. It is a very powerful shift in perceptions. From your post it sounds like you will be working in hallways and stairwells. Both can be very dangerous for physical conflict and should be practiced. This includes doing takedowns on stairs, learning how to safely roll or fall down stairs. Working against walls, handrails and hard corners offer dangers BUT with knowledge can easily be used to your benefit before and during physical events. Let the others have their fear of falling in those situations, fear their arms and legs becoming tangled in the railings, that fear can be manipulated. Learn how to use the stairs when walking someone to your benefit.
5. Learn improvised and edged weapons work. Learn to recognize potential weapons for what they are or can become. Learn this for both defensive and offensive reasons. Learn to use clothing (ball caps, baggy pants, pockets, belts, etc) offensively. It is fun and rewarding practice. Learn to recognize when someone is accessing a weapon, learn to both see and feel the intention and movement. When walking somebody you will if sensitive feel them going for a weapon long before you will see the movement or the actual weapon. This sensitivity and awareness is especially important in crowd work and where there is possible physical contact prior to the actual conflict starting.


A few other thoughts.
1. Learn first aid. You do not need to become an EMT but you should know how to deal with somebody chocking. You should be able to recognize heart attack and stroke victims even if they do not recognize it themselves. You should know CPR. You should have a basic idea of how to control bleeding. Know the good samaritan laws of your state. Have a small first aid kit on you (including something that you can use to control bleeding, something that you can use as a tourniquet (and apply using only one arm), surgical gloves, and a CPR mask. Learn how to render first aid to yourself not just others.
2. Dress comfortable but nice. Perception is a tool. If you look a little more professional, people subconsciously will notice and that noticing can be manipulated. It gives the perception of a little more authority, a little more understanding. This perception along with appropriate articulation can go along ways to calming potentially tense situations. Going to the used clothing places can be a treasure trove of good clothing that you do not have to overly worry or care about getting bloody and torn. Wear long sleeves. They can be used for control and choking as well as keeping blood spray and smearing off your otherwise exposed skin. For females if you are going to wear a skirt wear clothing underneath (shorts for example, the pockets are handy as is the extra modesty protection if the work gets physical) Wear shoes that are comfortable and will stay on your feet. All types of shoes can be used as weapons (improvised weapon work) as well as the usual stomping and cutting aids.
3. Get a good small tactical flashlight. There are many situations where a good flashlight is very valuable and possibly life saving. Get one, learn to use it and keep it on you. While using the flashlight learn to see and read shadows. Learn to see and use the backlighting/splashing. Learn to bounce the light to see. Make a game of it.
4. Cherish your fellow employees but do not trust them. Learn to work with your fellow employees with minimal verbal instructions or comments. Learn to make eye contact with them from a distance and to read that contact and communicate with it. Get in the habit of knowing and seeing who is working near you and get int he habit of visually checking on them repeatedly throughout the length of the event. Make eye contact along with a nod, smile or some other method of recognition. Do not make it flirty just and acknowledgment, I see you and see that you are ok and letting you know that I am also ok. Sometimes a slight change in that look is enough to communicate that you or they might need assistance. Before a conflict is going to kick off making eye contact with other employees can start them on the way over. That said never count on them for back up, they will be late or not show at all. Do not count on them backing up your story or seeing the events as you did. Work accordingly and be grateful when they do actually have your back.
5. Look out for busses and being thrown under them. Often security in the venues like you described in your OP are layers. Multiple layers. There are the friendly helpful faces, the big dumb (bullet sponges) easily recognized security, the obviously professional competent security professional, and the grey invisible (mostly) security as one example. Another example is the layers of risk and liability. Often these big venues contract out the security. Then they do not have to insure proper training of employees and are protected from negligent or criminal lawsuits, the contracted firms have full time employees and part time employees who have different training requirements which offers them limited protection if an employee screws up. It might not be fair but understanding this at least lets you know what to expect if a situation goes south. If you stop and insult the wrong person you can be fired with out too much trouble, if somebody is injured on your watch it will often be your judgement and actions under intense scrutiny. The lawyers will try to work up to the deeper pockets but each layer gives them obstacles to overcome. Being the bottom rung sucks as you will be the first speed bump but there is also some limited protection from not having assets for the lawyers to target and possible being able to point fingers upwards to the next level if indeed it is their negligence and not your own.


Final thoughts.
1. Go into work knowing that it could go bad. Anything is possible from a Mumbai style of attack to massive earthquake or fire. When you leave your home do not leave anything unsaid.
2. Sometimes even good people go to jail or the hospital. Know that you will be working with people, some will be ignorant thugs and others will be powerful voices of business and government. Interaction with these people at these kinds of events can be wrought with misunderstandings or violence. These can even lead to your own arrest or hospitalization. Have a prearranged means of making bail. Have a prearranged means of taking care of your other responsibilities i.e. children, animals, plants etc.
3. Recognize other employees strengths and weaknesses as well as your own. Sometimes having a big stupid muscle bound neanderthal show up is just what is needed to calm a situation, sometimes a empathetic female is what is needed, other times a wise older father or mother figure is what is needed. Do not be afraid to let someone else step in to calm a situation or be afraid to step in your self. A change in the dynamics can often produce wonderful results.
4. Tag teaming is a good tactic. Never take any of the work personal. If you have to get physical with someone, let one of your fellow employees take over right away. Just because you dont take it personal doesnt mean the client doesnt. A change in dynamic is just that, it is not a personal rebuff or admittance that you were in the wrong. It is just work and remember what the goal of the job is. Let someone else run a little interference while you collect yourself but do not go far, be in the area to help if further help is needed, or to CYA if needed. If one of your fellow employees needs help be willing to step in if it is needed and in your authority. Sometimes just helping with a little crowd control or watching six is plenty of help.
5. The event will happen deal with it with what is there. Sure, that other employee might be better able to handle this or that position, the rules and guidelines should be written in stone and memorized by everyone, people should not get drunk,high, violent, sick or injured. Life doesnt work that way. Murphy as in Murphys laws will try to bite you in the backside if it can. That other employee might be more experienced but five minutes before show time they told the boss that their knee was injured and they cannot work the stairs, or remember they had to throw out that drunken underaged girl last month and now here rich team owner father is in the stands and so is the press. Bosses will try to put the best tool (employee) where they will be most effective. Sometimes it works out great, other times not so much. Rules are guidelines and not all animals are equal. Rules apply to everyone but not really. It is the way of all kingdoms. Sports arenas, bars, concerts etc are all little kingdoms with their own rules and the rules and who they apply to can and will change by the moment. People will get drunk, high, violent, weepy, sick and injured on your watch. Handle it with discretion, grace, humor and understanding, then go home.

Good luck
Brian King
 

Bill Mattocks

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In such situations, I keep in mind the US Marine Corps 12th General Order: "To walk my post from flank to flank, and take no **** off any rank."

If I am ordered not to let anyone past, no one goes past. If they try, they bounce. I don't care who they are.

For some reason, I don't get asked to do things like that anymore.
 
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Flea

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Brian, wow ... :asian:

My shift this afternoon was everything Thursday wasn't, and vice versa. I'm so grateful. They put me up in the nosebleeds. In a house this size, that was just 2nd tier. All I really had to worry about was standard ushering. Best of all, part of my section was the wheelchair-accessible seats. So I got to stand next to a whole clique of old codgers who hadn't missed a game in 30+ years. They were all best friends and they kept telling me corny jokes between plays. Tough life!

Your many excellent suggestions are too numerous to respond to, but a flashlight, pencil and paper are part of our uniform. We wear white button-down shirts, black pants, and black shoes, and they provide hopelessly dorky green smocks and bow ties. (And yes, I thrift shop compulsively.) They serve alcohol at the VIP club but not at the concessions, so that helps cut down on a lot of potential trouble right there.

We can pick our own shifts. On Thursday night, I brought my bike with me on an intuition. Thank God I did, because I missed the last bus home by five minutes. So from now on the bike always comes with me. Better yet, I've decided only to work the daytime shifts. That way, even if I miss a bus there's likely to be a lot less drunk driving. And I think the games will be less rowdy too. Basic pre-emptive self-defense. ;)

If they had originally advertised for security personnel I would have run screaming for the hills. Instead it was a call for "crowd management." As I think back I've handled lots of high-stress "people situations," and I'm pretty decent at it. I've worked in a domestic violence shelter. I developed a crisis management protocol for a mental health support group, and it's been tested successfully. And I even (god save us all!!) staffed a customer service phone line. My style is always more like a negotiation - even if I'm not negotiating I always want people to feel like they're getting something they want whenever possible. It works beautifully in these contexts. Here? I'm not so sure. I guess it depends a lot of the individual situation, and the position I'm assigned to.

The people on actual security detail are impossible to miss. We peons have been instructed not to confront any patrons who are misbehaving, but simply to contact security. I have no intention of laying down the law with anyone - they can pay me a real hourly wage and give me real training for that, thank you very much. I think I need to work more on my demeanor - projecting more charisma and confidence. And projecting my voice better.
 
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