A special day or just another day?
Seems a really cynical question considering the time of year. For so many people Christmas Day was a special day. A day of rest and relaxation at home or with family. For some though it was just another work day. The security industry like many others finds itself needed on Christmas Day just like any other day. In the days leading up to Christmas and the day itself I had a lot of people contact the page and the website with stories and queries about Christmas Day. In this article I want to bring you some of those stories. All of these stories are based on actual people working this year but Ive changed some details for obvious reasons. They show both the breadth and difficulty of the security industry on a day like Christmas as well as some of the fantastic people who work in it.
Janusz is from Poland and works in hospital security in Ireland for the past 3 years. He’s employed on what is known as ‘specials’ which is the one to one security support given to patients who are deemed a safety risk for a variety of reasons. On Christmas Day Janusz spent the day (0800-2000) with Daniel who an 86 year old dementia sufferer. He spent most of the day walking up and down a single corridor repeatedly because that’s what makes Daniel happy. During the 12 hour shift Daniel has struck out at nurses twice and at Janusz many more times. This is probably the most difficult security role Janusz has worked in having come from the nightclub industry. At least over there if somebody atttacks you there is a logical response. When the attacker is a frail 86 year old with no understanding of his actions it’s more challenging. Janusz thought that the hardest part of his day was over by 1800 as he had spent the previous 2 hours talking to a tearful Daniel after the family he couldn’t remember had left. That changed at 1830 when Daniel spat at him for no reason and ten minutes later couldnt recall it. Still he’s glad that despite the scratches and spitting he was able to make an old man happy for a few hours on Christmas Day even if he wouldn’t remember it afterwards.
Kevin worked the day shift in a hotel this Christmas. The hotel was closed to the public but had a dinner set for 550 residents. Many were elderly couples and booked in to avoid cooking dinner at home and many more were in the hotel as emergency accommodation and for them this was home. The community spirit on the day started off great even if it was heartbreaking to see children opening presents from Santa in a hotel lobby. Slowly as the evening wore on and alcohol was consumed in some rooms there were incidents which reminded Kevin of why he was needed. He spent the last hour of his shift restraining an angry drunken man who had allegedly assaulted his partner in the hotel room they share with their child. Kevin went home that night longing for a Christmas drink with his family but saddened by what Christmas has become for some.
Michael worked Christmas Day in a patrol van in rural Ireland. He works for a company which responds to alarm calls and in particular to panic alarm calls from rural residents who have burglary or fall alarms fitted in their homes. His first call was at 0715 Christmas morning for an elderly couple whose house had been burgled on Christmas Eve night. They activated their panic alarm when they woke to find the back door broken on Christmas morning. Michael arrived soon afterwards and long before the Gardai (not their fault as they are at least a 90 minute drive away). He spent the next 2 hours reassuring the couple until the Gardai arrived to take over. It saddens him to see this type of thing happen to good people but it makes him happy to see the local community rally round the couple of Christmas Day. He called back later to give a hand cleaning the mess and repairing the door. His boss probably wouldn’t appreciate this but he feels it’s the least he can do.
Grainne worked the day shift in a large pharmaceutical plant. It’s closed up for Christmas but still needs security. It was after 2200 when Grainne got home and she was as angry as she had ever been. She was supposed to be finished at 2000 but the person who was supposed to be on nights didn’t show up until 2045 and he was drunk. This put her in an awful position. She could either go home to her family at 2045 and leave this guy in his incapable and unsafe state to mind the site. Alternatively she could report the guy to her boss knowing that she would be stuck on site until relief cover could be found (on Christmas Day) or her boss could get there. In the end Grainne stayed made her colleague coffee and talked to him for over an hour until he sobered up enough that she could leave him alone. Irresponsible of her she thought but on Christmas Day her family means more to her than her job and she’s already 2 hours late. Everybody will be ready for bed by the time she gets home and she can’t even begin to tell them how angry she is.
These 4 peoples stories which I’ve kindly been allowed to use are just a selection of the hundreds of security staff who worked Christmas Day. I’m not even trying to single out the security industry for special praise. There are thousands of first responders who worked on Monday who are much more deserving of our praise. I am however trying to point out some things in these four stories that make the security industry great. For all the whinging and whining we do about pay, conditions, job roles and how we are treated there are amazing people like these and thousands more who got out of bed on a Christmas morning and made people’s lives better. I for one am proud to be associated with these people and this industry.
These stories also highlight the diversity of behaviours, skills and emotional intelligence to succeed in this industry. Of course there will be focus on the guy who showed up late and drunk to his shift and we can always focus on the negative but the variety of positive skills and behaviours shown in these 4 people give great credit to the entire industry. We could all focus on the shirt fillers and the low pay and people who give us a bad name but lets not. For 2018 lets focus on the core group of professionals like these 4 who use their job to make peoples lives better. If we can do that then that most definitely a job well done.