MT Business Lifeforms: The Security Guard

Management Today, March 1, 2006 | Go to article overview
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MT Business Lifeforms: The Security Guard


Haven't you read the rules? Nothing gets past Bill Pullman, especially post-9/11.

Whereas receptionists are generally chosen for their bubbly personalities, warmth and general attractiveness, security guards seem to be selected for broadly opposite qualities. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough, but Bill Pullman isn't one of them. A permanent and curmudgeonly fixture in the foyer of the HQ of Wendower plc ('stationery solutions since 1937') his vocabulary rarely goes beyond 'security' and 'pass'.

Nobody grows up wanting to be a security guard, but Bill had certain leanings. He considered the police (they didn't consider him); he was a soldier for a while, then worked in pest control. In the army, he'd lacked the overt brutality to be a drill sergeant and wasn't keen on the strict regimen and constant vigorous exercise, so he found a vocation where small acts of cruelty could be meted out in a more sedentary environment.

At 25, he joined Exat Security as a security guard. He had to patrol a large and partially wooded site. Bill wasn't keen on this: it was too far out of town and there was too much walking around in the dark. He stuck it for three years, but when his company German Shepherd bit him, it was time to move on. He left for Dungeon Security, an outfit that hired him out to Wendower Stationery. Two years down the line, in 1985, a permanent position opened at Wendower. Since then, Bill's career trajectory has been a barely perceptible slope. His snail-like upward mobility has been neatly mirrored by a slightly more precipitous downward physical mobility.

Nowadays, practical sessile, he rarely moves, except to fetch endless cups of orange tea and chocolate digestives. When he joined aged 28, he looked like an angry whippet; now the effect is more that of a fleabitten bulldog.

But while he may have neglected the physical side of things, he has not been idle mentally. He has devoted most of the past two decades to a thorough reading of the Wendower company handbook and sundry employment regulations.

Such cogitation has given him an encyclopedic knowledge of every rule - even the corporate equivalents to those 'drunk in charge of a cow' laws still on the national statute books.

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