Monday, August 11, 2008

A Night at the Lucky Dragon

CD in Play: WholeNewBrain, The Minutes

As I stated earlier, I took a job with a security company here in town while waiting for the Health Region to finally get around to holding my second interview and/or make their decision on whether or not I will take the autopsy technician job. I do have mixed feelings about this and would be working at another job if one made it itself readily available. Employment has been hard in coming for most of my life and security is the one job where a guy like me is always wanted. I am big and apparently kind of intimidating in an unintentional way. But I have more to offer and more potential that security can offer me.
For the sake of respecting my non-disclosure clause and making sci-fi literary reference, let us just call my company IntenSecure and my site as The Lucky Dragon Convenience Store. It is a step down from where I was in BC, working at a university. My job was simply to maintain a presence inside the Lucky Dragon in order to discourage the hordes of people coming in from the big Exhibition and Amusement Park. Prior to having security there, people would enter in on mass and just loot the store, safe in their numbers and the belief no one could stop them.
I was stationed inside the store while my partner, whom we will call Durius, stationed himself outside. Durius chain smokes. Smoking on duty is strictly prohibited by the company, but for some people it is the only way they can keep themselves focused and entertained. I have the music loop to keep me entertained. It is a mix of songs from the 60's, 70's and 80's and leans heavily on Born in the USA by Springsteen.
The cashiers are both older guys in their 50's and there is another guy in his early 40's cleaning up the store and stocking up. Kind of depressing, and I wonder if I could end up slipping lower down the totem pole into a extremely pointless job like this? The oldest and roundest cashier is quiet and good natured and the guy on the floor seems pretty cheerful. The second cashier is the tallest and leanest of the crew. He's odd. He spends his entire shift telling customers that they dropped their penguin. The customers usually fall for it or are just plain confused.
"You dropped your penguin."
"Huh?" customer looks around.
"You dropped your penguin."
"What penguin?"
"He followed you in and you dropped him."
Customer looks bewildered.
"Aw, see - you stepped on him. You stepped on Charlie."
He started at 3pm and he was at it until 11pm when he left for the night. I wanted to stuff a pop bottle down his mouth.
I spend the night dealing with questions about what is for sale and can they please use the washroom. Angry youths wander in, too young to be sporting the tattoos they have. They eye me up and decide it isn't worth the effort. They wander for a bit, buy their slush cups, fill up and leave. A couple of hard living ladies wander in and out of the store and the bar across the street throughout the night. Heavily tattooed, one has a taut face and hollow blue eyes. She craddles a loaf of bread for a minute before setting down, settling on cigarettes instead. The other, also heavily tattooed, comes in with incomprehensible stories fired off at a rapid pace.
Around 9pm we deal with a pregnant 15 year old outside. She's feeling nauseous and has cramps. She has no money and refuses to let us call her an ambulance. Her brother, around 12, is angry and full of attitude. Paramedics were called over from the Exhibition arrive and the brother has to be taken aside so they can deal with his sister. He's angry that the paramedics don't have equipment and are unable to diagnose his sister's condition. He doesn't want to listen, he just wants to be angry. Lord, I hope I am not in security by the time he hits the age of 14 or 15. The girl agrees to take an ambulance and they are both from the scene.
After this the shift is spent ticking down the tedious minutes until my shift's end. Durius smokes half a pack by the end of it. By this time the whole front of the store is alive with small insects swarming the lights. Tiny beetle like things along with months and mosquitoes flutter and knock up against the window. Durius comes in periodically to get some relief. But at 11:30 we are both outside, but with the lights off most of the bugs take off elsewhere. Now it is us and drunken teens who are out way too late.
Durius and I talk and periodically patrol around the store, waking up people who have passed out and ushering them off the property or calling for the cops to take them to the drunk tank. Talking to Durius about the companies and contracts around town makes me realize just how different this city is from Vancouver. I find out more about how bad the bad areas in the west part of the city are. One guard was beaten near to death after trying to stop 15 gang members from beating on someone else. In Vancouver, I don't think any guard would have tried to intervene - our training just outright states that we shouldn't. We would call it in to 911 and maybe advise the group that the Police have been called.
The Lucky Dragon shut down for a few hours to take inventory and clean up the mess. It is amazing just how angry people can get when a convenience store shuts down. People walk or drive up and leave in a huff or to the sound of peeling rubber when we tell them the store is closed. But two and a half hours and 50 drunken teenagers later I am finally out of there. Durius drops me off at my place. I am tired. I just stood for seven straight hours doing very little. I am hoping something else comes along soon. I need something more.

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