Posted on January 11, 2014
I had a fascinating exchange with the most irritable security guard I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting when I took this.
I’m sitting on the waterfront of a large corporate hi-rise structure, it’s a cool night outside and very quiet around. I’ve taken a few photos so far, and I’m parked in a paid parking spot (the ones you take a ticket stub for and have to pay for your time when you exit the lot). I usually do this because it disarms angry people when I reveal that I intend to pay for my time there, and it usually only costs a dollar or two anyways.
Without warning, a security guard I can only describe kindly as “plus-sized” and wearing the most horrid, vibrant yellow/puke colored uniform I’ve ever seen, comes barreling out of the building towards me.
–“HEY! GET OUT OF HERE, YOU CAN’T TAKE PICTURES HERE IT’S PRIVATE PROPERTY!”
“Oh. Sorry. I’ll leave.”
–“GIVE ME THE CAMERA, RIGHT NOW!”
(So, usually I’m extremely polite with security guards because, hey, they’re just doing their jobs. But this one got on my nerves right off the bat, and it didn’t help that his voice sounded like someone was strangling a squirrel. I can’t fathom what set him off so rapidly. He must have thought my tripod was an assault rifle.)
“Do you not see me walking towards my car right now? What do you think I’m doing?”
At this point, he jogs back into his building, grabs his phone, runs back outside, and starts taking photos of me and all around my car.
“Is that really necessary?”
–“GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!”
“You’re going to have to wait about thirty seconds for me to pay for my parking spot.”
(He continues to walk around my car, snapping photos of the license plate on his way around and working himself into quite a breathless frenzy.)
“….Would you like my driver’s license and social security number as well?”
–“I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR SAD LIFE, I WANT YOU TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW.”
I got frustrated and egotistical, and subsequently mouthed off to him (which, in retrospect, was a stupid idea, but you get back the amount of respect you give to people, and there wasn’t a whole lot coming my way).
“My sad life? You’re working the graveyard security shift at Compushare in Santa Ana, you look like a truckload of mustard and this is probably the most exciting thing to happen to you in three weeks.”
–“I’M CALLING THE POLICE.”
“It’s okay, I already got all the reconnaissance photos of the building I needed anyways. Thanks.”
At that point he dialed a three-digit number and I booked it out of there without paying for parking because I didn’t want to be around when the cops showed up; not because what I was doing was illegal (it wasn’t), but because I would never have gotten a word in edgewise trying to explain myself against Wide-Load McGee.
And of course, this morning in the shower I finally realized the most brilliant comeback would have been to drag my camera back out of my backpack and start snapping photos of him back, and then questioning his double-standard when he protested. He probably would have lost it. It would have been great.
So it’s a mediocre photo anyways, but enjoy the best of what I got before chaos ensued. For future reference to any photographers who have to deal with angry night-shift security guards, know your rights as they apply to your ability to photograph things visible from public lands. I hate making waves or being generally disobedient, but there’s a limit to my patience with insufferable wads who lack the most basic of communicative skills, vocal volume control, or a GED.