The Midnight Soldier – My Brief Encounter with Raman, The 49ers Stadium Security Guard

When you grow up like I did, staying up late into the AMs playing video games and watching music videos on
Youtube, you start to redefine what night time actually is. For some, like my mom and perhaps the rest of the sane
world, night time is somewhere around an hour after sunset and about 9pm. For me, night time settles in at about
12:01am.

There’s something about crossing into the AM that just changes things. The air smells different —  like smoking
firewood from a nearby campfire — trees turn into ominous, black silhouettes and anyone you see jogging by
or taking a night stroll feels immediately dangerous and suspicious. But that’s just what the darkness does. So
naturally, exploring and adventuring around this time gets even more fun as the mundane things of everyday
suddenly turn obscure, waiting for you to uncover them.

Fascinated by bright lights at night, one night I drove over to the construction site where they are currently
building the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium in Santa Clara. Tripod mounted with my Polaroid
Automatic Land Camera 360, I stood outside the chain linked fence and scoped out possible shots. After two
or three, I saw a security guard emerge from a parked car. He looked at me. And I looked at him. We nodded
to each other, and he walked towards me.

Asking what I was up to, I showed him my camera. He seemed interested but to my great surprise, he didn’t seem
to care that I was up this late taking pictures, nor did he care that I was standing around in a raggedy shirt, short
shorts and a mismatching bath robe. After talking about my camera, we discussed for an hour about everything:
work, school, finding a job, and even football, despite the fact that I know very little about it.

I wanted to take a picture of him at the time but unfortunately, I only had color film which was ISO 100 so I knew
I had to return and see him again to have another midnight chat. So I did. I came back the following week, same day
and around the same time, and there he was again. His name is Raman and he’s a college student who works the
graveyard shift as a security guard while attending classes in the day time. He’s currently studying computer science.
These are some of our conversations:

Scanned negative taken from the positive (shown above.) I love how much of the detail and black levels are preserved: the rifts in his turban, parts of his beard and the building itself.

Me: Do you have to stay up the entire time?
Raman: Yea, but you get used to it, ya know?
Me: Do you drink coffee or something or what? How do you stay up the whole time?
Raman: The first time, you do. I like drank hella red bulls n shit, but after you get used to it and it’s nothing. I just
watch movies and shows n shit while I’m waiting.
Me: Your boss is cool about it?
Raman: Yea, he knows wassup.
Me: Yea, I mean, it’s not like there’s a whole lot going on so it should be understandable.

Me: Do you eat anything while you’re here?
Raman: Nah, we don’t get a lunch.
Me: FORREALS?! Why not?
Raman: We have to be on the watch the whole time so we can’t leave. But we can bring food if we want. I just don’t
eat. I’m trying to bulk up though.
Me: Yea? Been working out?
Raman: Yea man, but it’s hard because I barely get any sleep, and you know how your muscles grow over night n
shit
Me: Yea, yea, my girlfriend used to work at Vitamin Shoppe so she knew all about that stuff

(talking about his annoying ex-coworker)
Raman: Yea dude, he was a fuckin bitch.
Me: How so?
Raman: One time, I thought I was running late so I called my boss and was like “Yo, I’m on my way but I’ll be
there in like five minutes.” So I drive up and just as I’m about to park my car, my coworker is standing there with his
watch and complains to my boss about me being one minute late. I’m like, forreals?
Me: What did your boss do?
Raman: He had to give me a warning. It’s part of his job though, ya know?

FP-3000 Negative that stuck to the back of one of my shots. Caused that weird pattern

Raman: Some of these construction workers make like, $80,000 a year.
Me: Damn! That’s hella crazy! But I mean, they’re doing incredibly physical work. And it’s also very dangerous
Raman: Yea, exactly. They be hanging on this wire thing hella high up in the air while they’re welding shit. I’m
like, awww, fuck that!
Me: haha! Yea man, its almost like, shit, if I can make that kind of money, why go to school?
Raman: I know, right? Make hella bank.

Raman: So what kinda camera is that?
Me: It’s an old Polaroid film camera from the 1960’s.
Raman: That’s sick yo. Does it take hella nice pictures or what?
Me: It does. The thing that I also like about film is that it’s more permanent. You really only get one shot to
get it right. So you cherish your photos more and they’re more meaningful and sentimental.
Raman: Yea, I remember in 2nd grade our teacher had one of those old polaroid cameras and she took a
picture of me, and I think I still have it somewhere in one of my binders or something, haha.
Me: See?
Raman: Yea man, that’s pretty sick

The friendship that Raman and I shared was an interesting one. He’s a sports guy, I’m an artsy nerd. He’s into
computer science while I do communication studies. In a sad way, in our every day life we probably would
never hang out together. But in this instance, we did. Like a stray cat finding a caged dog behind a chain link
fence, that grid of metal served as this physical and symbolic representation of our separate worlds. Worlds
that normally do not collide. Worlds where, had it been daylight, we might not even recognize each other. And by
the mysterious powers of the darkness of night, we shared an intimate yet comforting conversation for just those
two nights.

Goodnight Raman, and good luck in all your endeavors.

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Filed under Full Framed, Men, My Life, Out And About, People, Polaroid, Special, Street Photography, Summer, The man/woman behind the job

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