Any Job Can Be A Nature-Led Job: Essay Part 2 Security Guard

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I was the only female security guard at the private security company. My supervisor was my roommate, a man we’ll call “Bear”. A big, quiet former Marine. We had our own “Jay and Silent Bob” routine. Few people ever heard him speak; he would just look to me to speak on behalf of both of us. There were no women’s guard uniforms, only men’s. My utility belt was the only thing holding my pants up. Once while trying to put myself back together in a tiny bathroom with all my assorted gear, my pager took a dive in the toilet bowl. There were no cell phones back then. I’d get a page with a phone number. Then you find the nearest landline phone and call the number on the pager.

Most of my coworkers were middle-aged, overweight, white men who had once dreamed of being in the military or police but couldn’t pass the psyche tests or fitness evaluations. My roommate and I were the youngest, fittest, and only drop of diversity in the whole company on account of me being female and him being Apache, not that any of them knew he was Apache. Bear was promoted to Supervisor shortly before I joined. He was the only one licensed to carry a firearm on the job. The rest of us had long heavy flashlights and mace.

During training I was with a guard who worked the mall out in the valley. A fight broke out on the mezzanine level between two young women with a somewhat large crowd on young people watching on. The Guard said, “I’m going to deploy my mace.”

“Really?” I asked. “I know it’s only my second day on the job, but why don’t we just pull them apart? You grab one from behind and I’ll grab the other.”

“No, look, I’ve been doing this a long time. We have to be more assertive.” As he pulls out his mace I step into a nearby store where I can watch from behind glass. The Guard muscles his way through the crowd and sprays the girls with the mace, except, you know where I’m going with this right? We’re inside a building with no wind. Of course, the girls get the worst of it with it being sprayed in their faces, but the whole crowd immediately reacts.

People are yelling, screaming, crying and stumbling every which way trying to get out of the pepper spray cloud, including the Guard himself. Fortunately, there was a bathroom nearby. I felt bad for the girls, so I led them to the bathroom to help wash their faces. I learned through sobs and snot that the fight was over a boy and he’d played these two friends. “Alright, well I guess the lesson we learned today is that no guy is worth getting maced in the face.”

By this time the Guard had rinsed his own face and was waiting for us. The girls got a 24-hour trespass notice for the mall and I got lectured about how I needed to respect his authority. Our second day of training was uneventful and then I was on my own for my assignments. There was a streaker at one of the nicest retirement homes in Spokane. Don’t ask me why some guy thinks it’s fun to go running down the halls naked at a senior living facility, but there you have it. He wasn’t a resident and no one was knew which door he would sneak in from. They were all locked except the front door, where the guard spent most of their time. I suspect he was a former employee with a set of keys.

The previous guard assigned to the place was morbidly obese and the streaker apparently was a rather fit fellow running about like he did. The guard could never catch him and couldn’t outsmart him either, I guess. When my roommate handed me this assignment there was an unmistakable twinkle of amusement in his eyes. The Senior Retirement place was one of my favorite places to work. I never got to chase the streaker though. He never showed up on my watch! The residents were lots of fun. It was like college dorm rooms, but no one had to study. They were always having fun! They had an indoor swimming pool, a library, a movie theater, and they went on daily excursions.

My other regular assignment was working out of the Old Flour Mill which had been turned into a cool place for a handful of small shops and restaurants. It was right on the river in the heart of downtown. As a security guard you keep hourly logs to note any activity of interest. Most of the time your log just looks like: “S/O Reynolds – 5:58pm -Nothing to report.” (S/O for Security Officer)

As someone who likes to write, that just seemed like a waste of paper. So, I started working on my descriptive sentence and scene setting. I’d head to a special access point at the top of the Flour Mill so I could describe the sunset. I carried a highlighter in case there was any relevant information I might need to report. One time during a perimeter sweep near the water at dusk I heard splashing, only to discover a large rat pulling a fish as big as it was to the shore. I was impressed. The rat arched it’s back and showed teeth. “I don’t want your fish.” I laughed. Since I didn’t move any closer the rat decided it could eat, but it kept its eyes on me, just in case.

I also once met a guy who called himself “Spider.” He followed me around chatting my ear off for about an hour and then decided to leave. As he’s leaving, he said, “I was gonna rob the cigar shop, but you’re just too cute and I don’t wanna get you in trouble.” Gee, Thanks, buddy. Another time I watched a teenage girl slip a necklace into her pocket at the hippie store. I came up to stand beside her and said, “You can put the necklace back or you can pay for it.” She started to protest, but I looked her in the eyes. She pulled it out of her pocket and put it back. I introduced her to the store owner at the counter. The girl came back and got a job there. A few weeks later she happily skipped up to me and showed me the necklace around her neck and said, “I paid for it.” with glee. It made me happy too.

Here’s what I learned about human nature. People will often try to get away with things like petty theft because they feel invisible. They think no one notices them and the sad fact is, they aren’t wrong. The people I met who tried to steal things weren’t doing it because they wanted to sell it for food or anything, they were lonely, depressed, bitter and sometimes angry.

I worked that job for nearly two years. I never carried the pepper spray. I never threatened anyone with a show of force. The only holds I ever put on anyone were hugs by mutual consent. All the shops owners at the Flour Mill loved me because on my watch there were no thefts, graffiti or fights. The only shopkeeper that didn’t like me was the Cigar Shop owner, because he couldn’t get over the fact that I wasn’t a man and I didn’t walk around like King Kong.

I was 18 when I started. I wasn’t even old enough to drink alcohol in my state. The craziest assignment was three nights of “guarding” a 56,000sqft industrial building. A fired employee threatened to come back and stab everyone. Again, I was the only guard on duty. It was hot, it was August, there were lots of hot, noisy machinery and long thick plastic sheets that separated parts of the manufacturing line. It also had seven huge doors, left open for ventilation. They were so big you could fly a small plane through them.

Fortunately, that guy never showed to fulfill his threat. The line supervisors were rightfully angry that the only protection hired for them was one guard with a pager and an oversized flashlight. My being there was a joke. It was disrespectful to both the employees and myself because the company was too cheap to provide proper security for such a large, loud, wide-open building. “What do we do if we see him?” The supervisors asked. “Call 911, then scream real loud, maybe I’ll hear you.” I said dryly.

I have a history of training in all manner of violence, but I don’t practice violence. I practice empathy, first and always. No one can “make” you a killer. The decision is ultimately always yours to make. I had brief stint in the Marine Corps. I’ve done kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Karate, survival training, hunting, camping, hiking, rock climbing. When I was younger, it was not unlike me to swim across a lake, just because I could.

For me, my only opponents are the goals that I set for myself.

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Sometimes I’ll choose the path of chaos, but I’ll rarely choose the path of violence. I remember the last time I did, decades ago. I was in my early twenties walking home in the dark, in downtown Spokane. This man was lurking in some dry bushes under a streetlight, no less. Mister Mugger, Are you afraid of the dark? I could clearly see him squatting there, plotting something. I continued casually walk down the middle of the road to see what he would do. Is he dumb enough to try and mug me? Yes, yes he is. As I approached, I was thinking about what kick I might do. As if on cue, my ancestors being the mischievous assholes that they are, turned out the streetlight above him. He jumped out and said, “Give me —” Boom! He got the Half Moon. My leg swung out and up, dropping my heel onto his clavicle (the bone between your neck and shoulder). He fell like a rock. I sauntered off telling him to “Go get a real job.” The streetlight came back on.

You wouldn’t have known it to look at me. I probably looked arrogant dropping a man and strolling off like I do that sort of thing all the time, but in truth I was angry. Angry that he thought robbing people was a good idea. Angry that its people like him that make other young women afraid to walk alone in the dark. Angry that he mistook for a victim. I am a survivor! An embodiment of the three-legged dog with one good eye and a half-chewed ear that goes by the name of “lucky.” I’ve died more times than most people have lived. Was it the right thing to do? Drop kicking him like that? I don’t know. My power isn’t that I know how to fight back, it’s that I know what I’m capable of, and I’m capable of A LOT.

Nature-led Lessons:

Greet new people and opportunities with an open mind.

Practice empathy every day.

Know yourself and you’ll know your power.

You don’t have to be afraid of the dark when you’re the scariest thing lurking within it. Bwhahahaha.

What are your capable of? Do you know what your power is?

Note: I’ve just about finished chewing through my reading on “Deep Adaptation” so that will be my next post.

A Day of Thanks, A Day of Remembrance

Alder Leaf

Small Maple Leaf

I don’t have much to say about Thanksgiving in the United States. I find it a rather awkward holiday. So, let’s move on. This is a Nature blog, not a holiday blog after all!

I’m planning to do two posts for the month of December.

Right now, I’m doing some “not so light reading” in preparation for my next high-level post. Its rather depressing, but you know once it passes through me, I’ll make it much more enjoyable for you to read! I’ll also share a funny personal story about how to make ANY job a “Nature-Led” job.

Until then……

Pull your weeds after the rain.

Go for a walk in Nature.

Stay true to yourself.

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Spirits In The Wind

Photo by Raine Nectar on

When you hear the wind but don’t feel it, it’s magical, like spirits who have chosen to tousle the high leaves on the trees but not your hair. It’s within that absence of presence that a nature-led person can find a new awareness. Does the wind have a mind of its own? What does it mean to be in possession of a mind in the first place?

The “mind” of a human consists of two parts, the physical brain riding around at the control center of our meatsuits and the spiritual mind that connects the conscious and unconscious rhythms to our soul. Physic law: Energy is neither created nor destroyed. We are made of energy, as much as we are of blood and muscle. Our synapses fire, we are alive! What happens when our synapses fail to fire? Are we dead in a way that we no longer exist? But we are still made of energy, right? Our body may die, but I don’t believe that we, “the conscious self “, dies. We only become untethered from this mortal suitcase.

I could tell you that I’ve seen and heard people after they’ve died, but then your logical brain will tell you I must be crazy and now I’ve become an unreliable narrator. So here’s Carl Jung who says it beautifully in a way I hope you can feel.

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons. There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history, and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world’s and the psyche’s hinterland.

Carl G. Jung

Joe and I got along well. We met through a mutual friend. He owned a pub a block down the street from my apartment. We were all taking Network Administration courses at the local community college. Where once “plastics” were the future, we now knew it to be computers. We waxed poetically between beers about man and machines. Then I saw it. Joe with his body sitting, but his spirit standing behind him. He was consciously preserving the moment, capturing the memory with his mind. He’d be taking a trip soon. This was his way of pocketing a snapshot within his conscious mind.

The group decided to move off to somewhere else, maybe another pub, maybe a jam session in Jason’s basement. People who like playing with computers also like trying to make instruments sing. I prefer to be a heartbeat that keeps time and melts into the background. I like to fade in and out of the peripheral. The inference- the spaces in-between- is where I can most often be found. Sometimes I pick up a shaker egg, or tambourine, but it’s the hand drums that often call me out. I used to be part of drum circle. Few things are sadder to me than the idea of a drum circle of one. Not much of a circle then, is it? If I’m an echo of call and response, then asking me to reverberate off myself sounds hollow.

I made lame excuses about why I had to ride with Joe and no one else. I said it was because I wanted to listen to Bach instead of Def Leopard and I wanted those warm heated-leather seats (which was also true, because it was bitterly cold that night.) He was the only one of us that was a real adult with actual adult things like a house he owned, a long-term relationship, and a car that wasn’t older than him by necessity. He’d been a successful day trader who’d exited right before the dotcom bust. Now he was dying.

As Joe pulled out of the parking lot, I asked him how long he had to live and what he was dying from. He was visibly taken aback, side-eyed me for a moment then focused back on the road. “Pancreatic cancer, maybe nine months, but probably two.” He said. “How did you know?”

“I saw you taking pictures with your mind. You were capturing the moment as if to take some piece of us with you.” I said. “I’ve been around death long enough to know when someone’s checking out of Hotel Corporeal.” He laughed, then told me not to tell any of the others. I argued profusely. His long-time, live-in girlfriend didn’t even know! “Don’t make me sit on this.” I begged. “Give them a chance to say Goodbye!” I complained. He wouldn’t hear of it, he thought maybe their anger would help them through the pain, but more than that, he didn’t want them looking at him with pity. I felt that.

There was a time when I was young. I had a lot of pride until my innocence was violently taken in shame. It wasn’t the act itself that devastated me so much. In fact, had there been no witnesses I likely could have flushed the memory into a mnemonic blackhole, but there were witnesses. When those who had seen what happened turned away from me with pity in their eyes, something broke within me. I found only blinding rage for solace. My face was hot and red, my vision was colored red and my body worked itself into shades of back and blue. In my raw anger I saw only myself and attributes I felt need to be fixed. Pride turned to judgement. I became a nihilistic hunter of knowledge.

The power within you is the power of knowing what you’re capable of. I trained to be faster, smarter, and stronger than everyone else around me. I siphoned knowledge like everyone else was a sieve. I created. I destroyed. I manipulated. I sacrificed. I took from some and gave to others. I don’t believe we are made in any gods reflection; they are made of us. Their stories reflect the human experience. We file them down into digestible components of virtues, parables, and chapter books as teaching tools. We are the gods and like the stories I learned temperance through age.

So here I was, many years later riding with a dying man who doesn’t want anyone to look at him with pity in their eyes. He died roughly two weeks later. I never said a word. You can’t pity him now. He was seen, but also heard and that’s one less hungry ghost to worry about.

What is he thinking when he plays in the wind? When he refuses to mess with my hair? In that space of absence, the known spirit says, “I am here.”