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Seven Reasons Why (Some) Security Guards Are so Irritable

Updated on August 3, 2014

A security guard in Orange County, Florida

My first knowledge of mall guards

My very first visit to a shopping mall was at the tender age of 15, the stupid, awkward, and no direction for my life age. I was just happy as could be at my parents agreeing to go with my sister and husband shopping in Florence, Ala., to take-in this “new” thing to our rural area: The mall.

When I set foot inside this “Mecca of Merchandise,” I felt the same thing that The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) felt in the Wizard of Oz upon realizing that he had a brain. Inside my young heart I was yelling, “Oh joy! Oh rapture!” That’s the neat thing about being able to converse with yourself at anytime of the day or night.

Since that ground-breaking event, I have visited malls of every design, shape, and location. I’ve visited malls alone, with my wife, with my wife and daughter or with a few friends when I was nearing adulthood and over the years I have kept in memory one thing that is common to all malls: Irritable mall guards.

This mall guard is sad due to the low pay

I respect the "Don't mess with me," look on guards' faces

Malls are not crime scenes

I kid you not. I only recall three out of many, many mall guards who did know how to smile and speak as they made their rounds. But the remainder were so serious-looking, stern, and wearing their “I mean business,” looks on their wrinkled faces. I used to believe that look was to send out vibes of intimidation to youngsters like me who are prone to get into trouble in malls, and to scare-off any gang member who was contemplating a meeting of him and his gang friends in front of the Orange Julius. Not a cool place for gangs.

The thought of these irritable and depressed-looking security guards working the malls never left me over the years and, funny how time has a way to remind you, I haven’t really took the time to understand the “why’s” of these good-hearted guys and girls who do such a great job and yet so unappreciated feeling the way they do.

"Why am I here?" might be what this security guard is asking

(Some) security guards only make minimum wage

I was scared for a moment

I share this example with you that I was privy to in the Regency Square Mall, Florence, AL. (Truth be told. I was sitting on a comfortable imitation wood bench).

Elderly customer: “Sir! Oh, sir!”

Guard: (irritated) “Yes, ma’am. What’s the problem?”

Elderly customer: “No problem, sir, I just . . .

Guard: “Well, what is it?”

Elderly customer: “I just wanted to know where the JC Penney store is located.”

Guard: “See that huge board down that way? The store is listed on that board.”

Guard walks away without asking if the elderly customer needed anything else. That one instance troubled me. Not much at first, but in the past few weeks, it has grown to be like a briar stuck in my foot and never removed—painful and makes my heart throb with pity toward the memory of the elderly woman.

"I know that I'm not a cop. That hurts."

I am only one person. Alone, I am helpless to do anything about this problem that is just below the vision of the owners and operators of these shopping malls.

Maybe there isn’t much even these people of power and riches can do about it. Maybe the problem is one that is unsolvable. All I know is that if that one guard got away with talking to that one elderly customer, he could get away with talking that way to more customers. And this is not a good representation of the mall.

So I am sharing some items below that might lead us all to some respectable amount of understanding of

“Seven Reasons Why (Some) Security Guards Are Irritable”

No wonder he hates his job

Did you know that these superstars used to work as security guards?

Eddie Vedder – Before touring the world as the lead singer of rock band Pearl Jam he held many odds and ends job to support himself while he perfected his music and established himself as the musician that he is today. He once worked as a contracted security guard at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, CA.

Joique Bell – The Detroit Lions running back actually gained the inspiration to pursue his NFL dream while he was a security guard. While working at Ford Field Joique ran into an NFL recruiter and asked if someone could go to the NFL if they played at Wayne State, the school he was currently attending. The recruiter responded, “If you’re good enough they’ll find you.” The rest is history.

Shad Gaspard – Before beginning his professional wrestling career Shad was actually a bodyguard to several rappers and celebrities including Puff Daddy, Brittany Spears, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Mike Tyson. Maybe his refined security skills helped him become “The Beast” for the WWE.

Rick Ross – The Hustlin’ star rhymes of a rough past and actually denied reports that he once was a prison guard in Miami before making it big time. Reports actually did link his social security number to a payroll at a prison. Nothing to be ashamed of Rick Ross!

Bruce Willis – The highly acclaimed actor grew to fame from a self-described blue collar family. After graduating from high school he reportedly took a job working as a security guard at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey.

Michael Clark Duncan –The recently deceased “gentle giant” best known for his role as the prison mate on The Green Mile started his Hollywood career as a celebrity security for stars like Martin Lawrence and Will Smith before being discovered and starting his own acting career. He joined a traveling show as a security guard and when the show landed in Los Angeles he decided to stay to pursue his dream of acting. Note: Duncan passed away, Sept. 3, 2012, in Los Angeles. He was 54.

Sheamus – Before his initial debut in the WWE Shemus was once a security guard. Now the reigning world heavyweight champion for the organization, he once did security for a nightclub. He occasionally did private security for Bono, Larry Mullen Jr. from U2 and Dennis van Oute

Steve Wilkos – He was once a police officer in Chicago. Then he went on to be a security guard on The Jerry Springer Show--to help keep order not back stage, but while the show was being filmed.

- See more at:

  1. These guards know in their hearts that they are NOT real police officers. This fact alone probably eats away at them every day.

  2. Most mall security guards only make minimum wage and that can really make a person miserable for the amount of hours they work. Most shopping malls use contract security services and have their guards work for a set low price whereas the mall owners do not have to pay the high-prices for a professional security service. It’s all about business. What a shame.

  3. Lack of respect by customers is evident. I have watched in anger as a gang of juvenile teens stood and made light of a couple of mall guards to their faces and the guards knew if they offended the teens, that they might get fired, so they just hung their heads and walked away from them.

  4. Limited power is another reason for the guards’ depression. Example: A mall guard sees a shoplifter take a necklace from a jewelry store, but he can only use his walkie-walkie to summon the mall manager who in turn calls the “real” cops to make the arrest, but many times this takes so much time that the thief is long gone.

  5. Guards having to do double-duty on the job really makes a security officer feel low. Some mall guards not only patrol the mall, but also picks up litter that some jerk has thrown on the floor. This is, to me, taking advantage of a person trained to spot lawbreakers. Now he or she has to double as a sanitation technician. And this is not a slam against sanitation tech’s.

  6. Most of the security guards who work the malls have other jobs they have to do in order to make a decent living. I was talking to a mall security officer at the mall in Florence, AL., recently and I asked if being a security officer was his only job. He laughed and said that when he finished his shift at the mall, he was “the” only law enforcement officer (a real cop) that a nearby town (away from Florence), had to call on for patrolling their town at night. Working two jobs. I know that has to be wearisome.

  7. Self-image counts for a lot of why these guards are mostly-depressed on the job. If this is the only job they have, the human ego must kick-in when they attend a school or family reunion and have to tell everyone, “I am a mall security guard.” And he tries to muster a smile. Then some jerk spouts off, “Oh, you are only a “rent-a-cop.”

    I rest my case.

    Coming soon:

    ”Exposing The Painful-Truth of Homemade Dentistry”

The late Michael Clarke Duncan is only one of the many super-stars who once worked as security guards.

Michael  Clarke  Duncan
Michael Clarke Duncan

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    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      Lol! Nice one Kenneth, calling it out like it is. So many different guard personalities in various employment arenas I've met, ranging from the extreme professional to the thug who's just looking for a dust up.

      Remember taking a job a few years' ago working 13 hour night shifts as a tower guard at a music festival ( thought it would be a great way to see, for free, an overpriced concert ), but apart from that, had absolutely nothing else going for it, but when the bills needed paying then beggars couldn't be choosers. Rarely met a happy guard as the employer usually tries to take the p*ss by undercutting or swindling them out of their wages.

      A great, honest Hub article, and thanks for the engaging read.

      Mind how you go;


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      I agree with your comment. You taught me something in what you said. Maybe, in some instances, guards have to play the "rude" card, but overall, I just misjudged from that one event with the elderly woman.

      Thanks for the comment and wisdom.

      Visit with me anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank you for this sweet comment. It makes writing it worthwhile. And you keep up the fine writing yourself.

      Thank you too for the following. That made my day.

    • JaneA profile image


      4 years ago from California

      Nice, sensitive exploration of these folks with a hard job. Jobs where mostly nothing happens are the hardest. Respect: That movie "Mall Cop" probably didn't help.

    • imtii profile image

      Imtiaz Ahmed 

      4 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      Sometimes guards have to be rude to maintain the security. There are some people forget to maintain discipline guards are there to recover it with a rude look. I think maximum people hate the guards for this reason, they think the guards are rude. I had a teacher who also was a security guard. He was rude when he was in duty and totally peaceful and shy in personal life. I respected him very much! And I respect guards very much! I really liked reading the post Kenneth.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Hey, there you are. Nice to see you in comments. And thank you for this warm selection of words.

      I enjoyed your comments as well as all of the other hubbers' remarks, but yours struck home with me because I too was grateful to have this job as a guard to help my family, but one instance of being used I am sharing with you:

      My boss owned a small delivery company of his own. He carried packages cheaper than UPS or any big rig company.

      One of his guard clients also made and sold pottery all over the place. Well, my boss told me to take a load of this guy's pottery to a place called Mount Chehah, Alabama, reportedly to be the highest place in the state and deliver some of this man's pottery.

      My wife went with me for we had to leave at 6 a.m. one Friday morning and we got home at 4 p.m. that evening.

      I reported to the boss to let him know things went well, I was expecting a check or even some mileage . . .No, sir. Nothing. And this guy even had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to do some weedeating at his house the next day, Saturday?

      I said NO, in as humble tone as I could find.

      This was what I meant by some guards being used.

      Thanks, dear Mary, for your comment.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      You are welcome for the raising awareness to security guards. And thank YOU for the sweet comment, dear friend.

      I hope to see more of you on HP as our friendship grows.

      And you keep up the great writing.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hey, maggs224,

      I love your comment and the great points you made. You are absolutely right on all fronts.

      I do know about low-pay, being used by my own boss, and no respect, but I was glad that I did have SOME income coming into our home.

      We were not allowed to wear guns and from what I seen out of a guard where I was sent to help guard one week I do not blame the management.

      It was a strike zone. A dangerous strike zone. The picketers had fired shots into the guard shacks and factory they were striking against.

      He loved it apparently.

      My first day he bragged on never going home, but filling out timesheets on himself, his wife and son who never showed up. But he got two free checks. I never opened my mouth in fear of a beating or being talked to death.

      Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

    • maggs224 profile image


      4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Because there are more workers than there are jobs these days, many workers are being shamefully underpaid. When I was young it was no shame to be working class, terms like salt of the earth were associated with working class. We did not tack on the word only when talking about our jobs, like only a security guard, or only a shop assistant. We have some how been conned into equating how little someone can get away with paying a worker, with the workers worth.

      Often our society would grind to a stop if the low paid, and so called low esteemed jobs were not done, where as if all the bankers and the 1% with the lion's share of everything disappeared, after a short hiccup life would still go on.

      The value system at work in our world at the moment is ludicrously skewed, and those in power are doing all they can to keep it that way. Hubs like this serve the purpose to to point out how we are taking advantage of the working class, by paying as little as we can get away with while demanding as much as we can in return. Voting up and hitting all the relevant button on my way out :D

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      In addition to my regular job as a letter carrier I also work part time security. I mostly work in pharmaceutical companies where I don't have to deal with the public, but I've been in a lot of places where I have had to work alongside these "wannabe" cops that you describe. Some of them are really frightening and I can understand why the police force won't take them. Their psychological profiles were obviously unacceptable and they have very aggressive tendencies. They want to bust heads - they love the power trip. Fortunately these are in the minority. I can see why this type would actually want to work in malls, however, because if offers them the opportunity to have a measure of power over the public. The rest of us good guards just want to hide somewhere and get a paycheck. Great hub.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      4 years ago from Florida

      I was brought up to respect any person in uniform, and that includes Mall security guards! I had a son-in-law who was out of work for six months before landing a job as a Security Guard at out local mall. He was happy to have that job even though it was a "step down" for him.

      Voted UP, etc. and shared.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice hub and it is so kind on your part to bring out the truth in the life of a security guard. Surely they deserve more respect and need more salary.

      Thanks for drawing attention to the Mall security guards, the problems they face! Voted up!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Grand Old Lady (Who is NOT Old)

      I know. I have seen guards do litter work as well as guard the mall. And they looked as if they hated it. I do not blame them. That shows you how cheap SOME security services can be.

      Thank you, dear friend, for your comment.

      Have a Safe and Peaceful night.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Didn't realize that security guards have to even pick up stuff that people throw on the ground. That's kind of exploitive. He should be able to tell the person to pick up his own junk. This was an interesting look at the life of guards.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, teaches12345,

      I am so sorry. I did not realize that you were away on vacation. I did enjoy your Kale story about healthy veggies for children. My grandchildren love yellow field corn, beans and cannot get enough cucumbers.

      I am so grateful to have a friend and follower such as yourself. You were among the first followers I was blessed with and I will always be thank ful.

      I mean it.

      You go and be blessed in all that you do.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Sheila,

      I agree with you 100%. These workers DO need a pat on the back and some encouragement, so I tell you that the next time my wife and I go to a nearby mall and I see a mall guard, I will do as you suggest and tell them just how much I appreciate their work--and I am sincere in this comment and in what I will tell them.

      Thank you for your nice comment.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I don't think I would have messed with Duncan when he was a security guard. I can't thank these individuals enough for the times when they have escorted me from the mall or my work to safety. Great post and I hope it makes people appreciate these dedicated people. (Sorry for the delay in response to your comment on my post. I just got back from vacation and am catching up today and this week with posts). Enjoy your day, dear friend.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I haven't seen many mall security guards for the simple reason I don't often shop at the malls. The ones I have seen haven't looked irritable, but they also didn't look like they were the happiest people in the world. Maybe we could help them out. Any time any of us are at the mall and see a security guard, we should go up to them and say something nice like we appreciate the job they do or something like that. Of course, they may decide that makes us look suspicious, but if more people did it, they'd get used to it and be a little happier.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Ann,

      Thank you so much for the nice comment. You may be right on all accounts on why security guards, some of them are so irritable. The point about the guy who was rejected at the Police Academy makes my case well.

      And thank you for pointing this out.

      Come back and visit anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Brie,

      Thank you so much. I admire your understanding.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, carrie Lee Night,

      You are very welcome. And I thank you for the sweet comment. It made me feel that my writing is worthwhile.

      It does make me sad for these guys and gals who depend on these jobs to make a living--at the time I was grateful to have a security guard job, but all I made was enough gas money to get home and back.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Carrie Lee Night 

      4 years ago from Northeast United States

      Thank you for writing this excellent hub :) You nailed it. I know someone close to me that has this kind of job and the pay/benefits are not that good.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image


      4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Sometimes I think security guards take the job because they can't get into the Police Academy. I know that was the case of one young man I knew. He had a physical defect which kept him out of the academy. He wasn't aloud to carry a gun, either. All of this may add to an ego problem.

      Well done on the job of raising awareness, Kenneth.

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I'm not angry with you, I just feel sorry for the guards because that job sounds awful. I'm unemployed.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Brie,

      Thank you for the comment, but this is NOT a slam against guards. I was a guard for about a year and was probably the worst job I have ever worked. Low pay, no respect, did extra duties . . .all of the seven reasons applied to me.

      But do not be angry with me.

      What do you do for a living if I might ask?

    • Brie Hoffman profile image

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I feel a little better about my life after reading this!


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