* The above image is from Quid Pro Quills.
So, I am already back from my job interview. It’s 1.35 a.m. in Singapore right now so technically, I am talking about the interview I attended yesterday.
It went well but, on the other hand, it didn’t.
It went well because I got the job the moment I walked in. I was told to fill in an employee form and that’s that.
They even offered me a salary that’s higher than I had expected.
So why, did I say, it didn’t go well when seen from another angle?
That’s because I was so nervous during the interview that I just signed everywhere they told me to, without reading carefully.
Well… That wouldn’t be as dangerous as some of you might think. The security agencies here use the same format for their employee forms and contracts. More or less.
There’s more. It was only after I left the office when I discovered that I never did receive my copy of the employment contract. Nowadays, most agencies do hand a copy of the employment contract to their employees. Maybe it’s not the practice of this particular agency? I checked their background on the internet, and according to their webpage, they were established back in 1970s. That might explain their way of doing things. Some of the agencies I worked for between 1999 and 2003 never did give me copies of my employment contract either.
But because I don’t have a copy of the contract and because I don’t recall signing anything that says how much I should be paid, I am worried.
Still, I did manage to wrangle a promise (verbal) from the manager to pay me weekly advances. $200 per week. Payable every Tuesday. So we will know next Tuesday if they are honorable and honest.
The job seems easy and will allow me to write on the job so I will gamble a bit.
I am also a little excited. Like what if they go back on their word and refuse to pay me my weekly advance? Wouldn’t that give me the opportunity to “promote” the agency on the internet? Guards Gone Wild! is basically a whistle-blower’s account of the the security industry. It’s unpublished because it has been rejected by the publishers in Singapore but if something like an agency scamming my pay comes to light, that might give me the chance to turn around and tell those publishers:
“See? I did say more people need to know about the scams going on in this industry. That way, less people will get cheated.”
And my book gains a new chapter.
Loh Teck Yong
In recent years, high profile cases of security guards being abused or abusive have been reported via online media. Well, those few cases were brought into the cold light of day to be commented on by the general public but, as an industry insider, I can assure you that such unhappy incidents happen on an almost daily basis.
So by putting out this list here, I hope that those of you who have never worked as a security guard before can understand our job better. And with this understanding, perhaps we will be treated better by our clients and members of the public.
#1. Threats Of Bodily Harm
We get that a lot, due to the nature of our job.
Security guards, even though they are usually called “security officers” nowadays, do not have the powers of actual peace officers. Such as the power to lay charges. And the public knows this. That’s why we are considered safe targets for abuse and threats. And so, words that your average “beng” will never ever dare say to a real cop can be liberally heaped on security guards.
But despite not having great powers, we are still burdened with responsibilities. If you happen to spot delinquents smoking or exhibiting rowdy behaviour at the mall, who do you call? Yes, the security guards.
#2. Actually Getting Hit
It happens. From time to time. We have all seen the videos. The fare evader hitting a security guard at Enggor Street. The security manager slapping and punching his subordinates at a condominium. The security guard and delinquent fighting at The Cathay. And like I said earlier, unhappy things happen to security guards on an almost daily basis, so there are probably hundreds of such incidents that haven’t seen the light of day.
Also, as if to rub salt into injury, some security guards who were assualted either resigned “voluntarily” or were taken out of their usual stomping grounds and transfered to unfamiliar work assignments.
#3. Delayed Salary Payments
When I started working in this industry back in 1999, I heard a horrible story from a fellow guard who was working at a mall. For nearly a month, his employer had been paying the guards at the mall with nasi lemak. Yes, nasi lemak instead of cash.
See, they were supposed to be paid in cash every week but, somehow, their agency kept delaying payments. If I remember correctly, the reason given was “no cash flow”. But being the nice boss that he was, the agency owner went down to the mall every day to reward his employees with nasi lemak. Compensation for a 12-hour shift.
At least, with that one meal per day, my friend wouldn’t starve so he kept on showing up for work. So yeah, they were just getting strung along with meals of nasi lemak until the boss decided to pay their salaries.
And then in 2009, I myself became the victim of delayed salary payments. I remember I had to beg and pester my Operations Manager for my salary every single week, and it felt like I was working as a debt collector rather than a security guard. Eventually I got fed up and resigned.
We security guards have to put up with long working hours and a lot of unpleasant situations at work, so is it really too much to ask for that our employers pay our salaries ON TIME? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry
A reporter from the Lianhe Zaobao interviewed me about my book and plans for the future. The article was printed on Thursday, the 9th of March. Here are photos of the newspaper clipping.
A Summary Of The Article In English:
The article starts off with a quote from me. About how it has always been my dream to become a writer and as long as I haven’t fulfilled my dream, I will never give up.
Then it goes on to say that I quit being a full-time guard back in 2009, to focus on writing my manuscript. And through my stories, I hope to let more people understand the hardships in the security industry.
I graduated from secondary school with O levels, the article says. And in 1999, I started working as a security guard. Since then I have worked as a dishwasher, kitchen cleaner and sales assistant before returning to the security industry.
I loved reading English books ever since I was a kid. And the article quotes me as saying, “Security guards, while they are doing their job, frequently get abused by unreasonable people and for the sake of making a living, even if their working conditions are bad, they will choose to keep silent. I hope that after reading my book, the public would act a little more kindly towards security guards.”
However, things are not going well for me because I have been rejected by 4 publishers.
The publishers probably thought that stories about the security industry are unsaleable. That’s why none of them were willing to pick up my manuscript. But for the sake of realizing my dream and letting more people know about the lives of security guards, I will not give up.
So I will either raise the money to self-publish or continue to submit my manuscript to other publishers.
And finally, the article concludes with a quote from me.
“J.K. Rowling had her Harry Potter manuscript rejected 12 times, but she didn’t give up and went on to become a bestselling author. So as long as I don’t give up, there’s always hope.”
Okay, End of Translation.
P.S.: Bear in mind that the article was written by the reporter in the 3rd person, but I use the 1st person point of view for my translation because only royalty and cute Japanese girls use the 3rd person when talking about themselves.
Loh Teck Yong (罗德荣)
Many security guards work twelve-hour night shifts, in eerily quiet buildings and sometimes quite remote areas, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that urban legends and spooky tales have sprung up among our community. This Halloween, if you want to give yourself a good scare with some stories from beyond the grave, chat up a security guard.
Or you can keep on reading.
Because people kept asking me for ghost stories after they found out that I had worked the night shift at various notorious buildings in Singapore, I decided to include some in my yet-to-be-published book, Guards Gone Wild!. As a sort of fan service. So, there they are. Three chapters containing stories of close run-ins with the spine-chilling aspect of security work.
“At this particular school, one of the unbendable rules pertained to the treatment of ‘night students’, the unquiet spirits of students past. According to reliable eyewitnesses, they showed up from time to time, still neatly attired in uniforms of yesteryear, prowling the corridors during the hours of darkness.
‘Ignore them,’ my fellow guard warned. Especially when they tried to grab your attention with friendly greetings. Maybe a ‘hello’, sung from one of the upper floors or a wave of a hand if you were caught looking in the right direction.”
– Excerpt from Haunted School.
But strangely enough, even while my colleague had his fair share of spooky encounters and even while the weekend part-timers were harassed, I myself was never bothered by the ‘night students’. The Haunted School chapter tells the story of two unfortunate weekend part-timers who saw “someone”, a man wearing a white shirt who looked suspiciously like a student, pull off an impossible disappearing act and were so freaked out that they promptly resigned from their job. Read the rest of this entry