The mere sight of blue-uniformed security guards evokes a feeling of courtesy, respectfulness, and dedication to service while on duty. You see them everywhere, posting at the shopping mall entrances, gates of high-rise condominiums, and even government offices. It’s not unusual either to have police barracks or military garrisons that utilize security guards as front-line gatekeepers.
They stand in attention, usually armed with hand-held radios and 12-gauge shotguns, but without the menacing look of a hoodlum. Over the years, their powder blue uniforms morphed into the white and navy blue combo, although plain clothes men on duty. These guards withstand the punishing heat of the day and challenge, all for little pay and no security of tenure at their jobs.
Back in the university, we identified the characters of the guards on duty. One may be strict on everyone and gets a bad rap for being a killjoy, while another is labeled too easy and could get the campus bombed for his lackadaisical attitude towards security.
Guards are also part of jokes we hear every now and then.
Navy: No Guts No Glory
Air Force: No Pain No Gain
Marines: No Retreat No Surrender
Security Guard: No ID No Entry
They may grace the news headlines handing recovered misplaced high-value items. That wasn’t supposed to be in the news, but in a society where it’s not uncommon to have an unattended item stolen, these Manong Guards have become a beacon of home in humanity. Yet, despite their valor and integrity, security guards don’t get the proper respect they deserve. In one high-profile case, a guard trying to guide motorists in a busy intersection in Mandaluyong City became a victim of a hit-and-run incident involving an SUV.
It’s a sad fate facing some security guards, many of whom greeted us with a polite “mam” or “sir” when interacting with us.
However, becoming a security guard may not be a life-long career for many. After all, their ranks don’t get promoted from a mere entry-level security guard to, say, captain guard or general guard as what they do in military practice. So I guess they pursue other careers while on the job.
Priority number dispatchers
You’ll find them outside banks or government institutions whose customers queue in line for their turn to be served. Perhaps an overzealous human resource officer thought guards just stand (or sit) idle in their posts, doing nothing. So these guards are told to do the additional job, not necessarily found in their job description, but part of how a bank or a utility agency should function more efficiently without adding manpower.
So, on top of their guard duties, these uniformed personnel are tasked to give out priority numbers to customers before settling down in their seats and waiting for the number to be called.
The pandemic has added a new career for our hard-working security guards, who now have an additional weapon at their disposal: digital temperature kits. As people enter an establishment such as a restaurant or any other public establishment, they are subject to the routine read-aim-fire (with no bullets of course) check from guards as they aim these kits into every individual’s foreheads.
A would-be customer can only hope the reading is within the required level; exceeding this level could only mean no entry.
Usually observed at shopping malls in the Philippines, these guards act as a checkpoint before getting through the entrance. This is also practiced in high-security risk establishments like government buildings or foreign embassies.
Guards are armed with body scanners, and drumsticks to poke through bags that must be opened for a quick inspection. This is a routine function that Filipinos are used to, as it’s been in place to help protect business establishments and the general public from potential terrorist attacks. But it’s not foolproof. In 2018, two people were killed and dozens wounded when a bomb detonated inside a Cotabato City mall.
Nonetheless, security guards should receive proper recognition for helping keep the peace in these establishments while we enjoy our movies, eat to our hearts’ desires at restaurants or do a shopping splurge without a care in the world.
Customer inquiry officers
Security guards often are the first to greet customers as they open the door of a bank, hospital, or government agency. A casual encounter may also include customers asking about filling out forms or a list of requirements.
Having heard about these questions for oh-so-long, security guards must have built a Wikipedia-level compendium of knowledge on which documents to fill out to open a bank account, and which floor to go for a CT scan appointment, or procedure for obtaining an OEC.
Therefore, in many cases, security guards can solve a lot of problems and answer almost every question relating to the office he is serving. If there’s a year-end award on customer service a company will hand over during the Christmas party, Manong Guard should be a perpetual nominee for his invaluable contribution to how customers should be served.
Crowd control officers
During periods of high-leverage situations, like a renowned shop opening for the first time or a tax return deadline at a Revenue District Office, guards are on hand to keep order in the area. As throngs of customers try to get in line first, or tardy taxpayers waiting to file their returns on the last day before the penalty, security guards impose procedures to keep a rowdy crowd at bay such as forming a line that snakes from the entrance door to the teller.
Their patience is often tested, and these guards do a remarkable job getting things done.
Assigned outdoors to welcome patrons behind the wheels, guards do a fine job of getting cars to obey a carefully orchestrated routine: tell the driver to halt the car, open the trunk and scan the vehicle’s chassis using a mirror’s reflection, while peeking through the car’s interior for passengers with potentially sinister intentions.
At airport departure gates or the hospital’s discharge department, security guards can also be seen assisting mobility-impaired patients and passengers. They push the wheelchair towards the ramp leading to a waiting rehab vehicle or ramp towards the airline priority lane.
On the receiving end of an arriving flight, guards also wait for passengers in need of mobility as they park their wheelchairs at the arrival lounge.
Occasionally, security guards keep a blue log book for employees to sign in and sign out as proof of presence at work. Otherwise, they will look after the daily time records or Bundy clocks for employees’ check-in/check-out procedures.
Customer greeting officers
Visit a typical Jollibee branch and you’ll be greeted not by that ubiquitous girl that blurts out “hello mam/sir, welcome to Jollibee,” but by a security guard who doubles as a door opener and greeter. They do this with pride, seeing the eyes of a hungry customer ready to pounce on a crispy chicken joy.
Doubling as a nurse, security guards also check patrons for proper placement and wearing of face masks, and maintain social distancing. For added measure, they also press the trigger of alcohol spray on their hands, making their jobs closer to a health professional than ever.
Traffic police don’t usually supervise the road situation within private properties such as mall parking lots. So who does this? Of course, you got it right: the security guard. He directs traffic flow, checks the parking meter, and does a vehicular inspection (see Car scanners above). This is the unfortunate outcome of a poor security guard who was still nursing his aching body weeks after the hit-and-run incident.
In addition to greeting restaurant customers while opening the door and saying hello, a guard may occasionally help maintain the cleanliness by cleaning tables from leftovers or mopping floors in some restaurants. This is totally different from a security guard’s duty, and can potentially make an establishment vulnerable to robbery or acts of terror.
It’s a shame to employ a security guard who will double as a higher-paying job, neglecting, in the process, their main duty to serve and protect. But it is what it is, from a third-person’s perspective. Security guards have become ubiquitous within society and in one way or another, they make life easier for us.