Working as a Security Guard
A Security Guard
Working as a Security Guard
In the late summer and fall of 1979, I worked as a security guard in Toledo, Ohio. At this time of my life, it was difficult finding other employment, and I was happy to find minimum wage work. For three months, I worked nights primarily as an industrial security guard. Details of how I became a security guard and my job assignments are narrated in this article.
How I Became a Security Guard
In the middle of July of 1979, I had just returned to the United States from six years of living in Taiwan. I was accompanied by my Taiwanese wife and son who were anxious to live in America. Little did they know at the time that life would be tough and challenging until I secured employment with the federal government in December of 1980.
After a two week visit with my parents on a farm in Wisconsin, I headed to Madison and the University of Wisconsin in my used "71" Dodge Polara which I had purchased for $500. I remember staying with my family for about three to five days in the old Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity house which now housed coeds. My plan was to possibly find work at the University or line up work as a translator at the United Nations.
When neither plan worked out, I drove with my family to Adrian, Michigan, to visit my old college roommate. Jeff was working in a small chemical company in Adrian, and I thought he could possibly help me find a job as a chemist with his company.
Jeff did the best he could, but his boss Andy was not hiring. At the suggestion of my friend, I drove 30 miles south to Toledo, Ohio, and visited the state of Ohio Job Placement Service. While being interviewed by a job placement officer, I learned to my dismay that my Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry awarded in 1966 and one semester of graduate work in chemistry was now worth actually only one year of college chemistry. Unfortunately, I had never worked in the chemical field since leaving college in February of 1967.
The bad news at my job placement interview that morning was followed by the even worse news when I returned to Adrian later that afternoon. I returned just in time to see my son lying on the side of the road with a badly broken left arm. Mike was transported by ambulance to a public hospital in Toledo and my situation was getting worse and worse.
I was in an unfamiliar city with no job, a badly injured son, and a foreign wife new to the United States. After spending a night sleeping in my car, one of Jeff's friends helped my wife and I find temporary lodging with an unmarried woman in South Toledo. At the same time, I was searching through the help wanted ads of the Toledo Blade hoping to find any kind of work.
Finally, I found a listing for security guard wanted by Intercontinental Security Service. Although the job only paid minimum wage which was $1.95 per hour, it didn't require any previous experience.
Right after reading the ad, I drove down to Intercontinental's office in downtown Toledo and applied for a job. After filling out some forms, I was hired on the spot, given a badge and company shirt, and told to report to my first assignment at 11:00 p.m. that evening.
Third Shift at Art Iron in North Toledo
My first job assignment was at Art Iron, a small iron, and steel plant in North Toledo. Upon arriving a little before 11:00 p.m., a supervisor met me and explained job responsibilities. I was responsible for guarding the interior of a small warehouse. In making sure that I patrolled all around the warehouse, I was given a time clock which had a card enclosed inside. Once an hour, I had to visit about six to eight stations around the warehouse, and at each station stick the key from the station into my time clock. This only took 10-15 minutes. During the remainder of the hour, I could sit in an office in an adjoining building and call the company once an hour. It was an easy boring job which lasted until 7:00 a.m. I was not armed with a club or gun.
Third Shift at Vroman Foods
After a few weeks at Art Iron, I was transferred for duty to Vroman Foods in West Toledo in mid-September of 1979. My job responsibility there was to guard on weekends five to ten ice cream containers parked outside in the company lot. I would fulfill my duty by inserting keys at the various containers and checkpoints along the perimeter into my time clock and by also recording the temperatures of the containers. Patrolling the containers and periphery only took about 15 minutes. In keeping warm, I would have to sit in my car and run the heater. One benefit of the job was being able to eat all of the ice cream I wanted. Once again, I worked from 11 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and I was unarmed.
Other Security Job Assignments
During my last month employed as a security guard, I had an assignment guarding a personal estate and also one of patrolling a Catholic Church parking lot in East Toledo.
On weekends from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. for two weeks, I was assigned to guard the Ritter Estate in a northwest suburban area of Toledo. Once an hour I had to walk the periphery of the estate and then call in an hourly status report by radio. When not patrolling on foot, I sat and kept warm in my car.
My last assignment was patrolling a Catholic Church parking lot in East Toledo on Mondays from 6:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. On Monday evening the Catholic Church there ran Bingo games in the church basement hall. When I started this assignment, I was replacing a security guard who was working for a different security company. I was shocked to see him armed with a big club and a 45 caliber weapon. I reported unarmed without even a club. Fortunately, the only problem I ever had was breaking up a fight between two women in the bingo hall.
For one month, I did security guard work full-time until I started an ESL daytime job in Toledo. Then I only worked weekends and on some weekday evenings until the end of November of 1979.
My experiences as a security guard were interesting, but thankfully it was a job I only had to do for a short time. Surprisingly, I never felt like my life was endangered while on duty.
© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn