After two failed attempts in trying to engage in conversation with a security guard, I finally find one who’s willing to speak to me.

I like this security guard. He’s cute, feisty and very frank in his conversation with me.

Disrespected, powerless and lowly paid, it’s hard not to feel for him. As a security guard at a school, his duty is from 8am to 8pm each day. According to him, working here is already “okay”. It’s hard to imagine what’s not.

When I ask him if he thinks security guards are respected, he tells me that nobody respects security guards. “No, no, nobody respects security guards. ”

Why?

“Non-educated, non-educated, lazy people. I think you heard before la, “You ah security guards all lazy people la.” “

I tell him that I’ve never heard this before.

It’s hard not to sound ignorant of this man’s situation. Indeed, many times, I have thought of security guards as pretty useless people, more like figureheads rather than people who are responsible for our security. How many times have I walked through condominiums without being stopped or even given a second look?

But this man is changing my impression.

He then recounts how sometimes, visitors don’t even bring down the window to allow him to check their identity.

“Then sometimes they come – eh you don’t know me ah? I so many times you don’t know me ah? Like this ah, got problem.”

Why you say you all got no power? (Please forgive the English)

“Security is no power what. Who want to listen to you? Example ah the police coming ah, they stand there, no need to talk you know. Who dare to parking (sic) there? “

“If policemen stand there, who dare to parking (sic) there? But security talk how many times, they don’t care ah. Wait wait wait. I call first, I call first.”

This comparison between the powers of a policemen and a security guard allows me to see how hard the job of a security guard is. “They can summon, we cannot summon.” Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that these security guards are trying to do their job also.

“We got no power.”

Are you paid a lot as a security guard?

He is paid a basic salary of $900 a month. With allowance, his pay doubles to about $1800 a month. There is a compulsory 4 hour overtime. “You want to work, you work 12 hour. You don’t want to work, you get lost.” With the CPF cut, he takes home about $1500 a month.

Working during public holidays is also a must. If they work during public holidays, they earn an extra $30. But if they don’t, they take away one day from their unpaid leave or off. They have four off days a month.

As one of the canteen aunties file out from the gate, he jokes with her, asking her to introduce her daughter to him. 我还年轻嘛! (I’m still young!) It’s heartening to see how little jokes like this make jobs like his more bearable.

“Okay la so far, Hwa Chong okay la. The condo is more worse ah.”

He then proceeds to recount his experience as a security guard at a condominium previously.

“Okay, let’s say at night, at night one. Condo sometimes is round one right?” I gather that he’s speaking about the layout of a condo.

Sometimes like a bottle “clang!”, cannot listen one you know. At the bottom, you can see that the sound is rounded one you know. Like our hifi ah, round one you know.”

Then the intercom come already, why the guard stand there ah, nobody come to attend the the..

Because you want to search out where the sound come from, so you just stand there, you sure stand there what.

You just stand there the intercom come already say you never.. why the guard so many there stand there, never go to check the situation, what happen there.”

“But actually we don’t know where the sound come from leh, how to go?” He gives me a pained laugh.

“Then the swimming pool, management say, one unit only can bring four. Some don’t care, then how? The guard go and quarrel with them ah?

What I want to say lah, the guard ah, the security, nobody respect one. Go everywhere the same. Nobody respect.”

What is your worse experience as a security guard, I ask, as if the previous questions were not painful enough for him to answer.

“Worst ah, so far okay.

Day by day la, just over one day one day. Want to say what. One day pass one day no complaint okay ah.

We try to do our job la, don’t get other people to complain.”

P.S The writer’s block I initially faced was the worst ever. I sat at my table for hours, going through introduction after introduction, trying to find one that would best describe this security guard’s situation. If you notice that this post has had a lot of excerpts of my conversation with the security guard, it’s because I can find no other way of expressing his emotions, and I thought it would be best if you could read what he told me.

Some parts of the conversation may sound strange, and I hope you would forgive me on that, for I’ve tried to make the conversation as unadulterated as possible so as to maintain the integrity of the dialogue we had.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the first post, and hopefully this also helps me to overcome the initial hurdle in writing.