Category Archives: The man/woman behind the job

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

Geraldine (Gigi) – Sales Associate By Day, Aspiring Fashion Designer By Night – San Jose

I‘ll say it now: working at a job that isn’t your career fucking sucks. I mean, how many of us actually work at a job
that we love? Aside from being the official taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, there really isn’t a job in the
world that caters to every single need you have. As an aspiring artist working in retail, the monotony of selling
handbags and rubber flip-flops can bore the neurons out of your brain. So when Geraldine (aka, Gigi, aka G²) –
a 30-something, 5’2-ish, aspiring fashion designer – was hired at our location, we immediately bonded over our
shared longing for a future in art.

As Dr. Evil as it may seem, I’m somewhat of an emotional brick wall. I hardly cry, my heart skips a beat when
children are being yelled at by their parents in public, and I also give zero fucks when I lose a friend. Friends?
Whateves, yo! I’ll just find a new one on 4CHAN! But as today marks Gigi’s last day, a part of me (and all of us at
work) has seemed to dwindle down like a fire without a wick. Why, you ask? Well, when you work with a group of
all women, you get somewhat of a shitstorm when it comes to drama. She said, she said, and all of this bullcrap
gets thrown around like condiments in a food fight. At some point, everyone has been irritated by everyone –
but not Gigi.

Gigi was sort of the neutral party. She never started shit with anyone nor did she care to be involved. I respect
that. She was always an immensely chipper person and even though she was only in her early 30’s, she felt sort
of like our grandma – emotionally relaxed and always willing to share a great conversation. If we weren’t talking
about food and the types of food we wish we could be eating on our incoming lunch break, we discussed art,
fashion, gossip at work, and other random topics. But she was also real, with real problems and real concerns.

Interlaced beneath the cotton threads of her happy disposition were the linings of guy problems, struggles with
family issues, and the mystery of her future in the fashion biz. I mean she had some Maury Povich stuff goin on
and naturally, I found myself as her unofficial therapist – advising and guiding her on things such as “that man is
a LIAR!” or “MAN UP! Ask him out!” Conversely, she helped me learn to relax more at work. She taught me
how to turn my inner TiVo on and put things in slow motion. To stop, take my time, and let the job do itself.
She was excellent at it.

I won’t bore you any longer with my individual stories and inside jokes but I will say this: despite my brick wall
of a heart, I truly found myself saddened when she left our store. A good, moral, and real person had left our
family at work. The world just doesn’t make people like her anymore. People who seem to endure so much in
life yet they continue to thrive and smile through it all. Both of us may have bigger dreams and aspirations
beyond the tasks of folding clothes and ringing up needy customers, so perhaps, by chance, the art world will
harmonize and in the future, we will meet again at the corporate art department.

Till then, my good friend.

Dance on*

*This was a song that we all used to lip sync and dance to during work*

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Filed under At The Mall, Details, Featured Designer, Featured Fashionista, Full Framed, My Life, People, Rants, Special, Spring, The man/woman behind the job, Updates, Women

Larry – The Security Guard At My Apartment Complex – San Jose

You would never suspect it, but behind that blue and black uniform, there stands a man with a wife, a daughter, and a
background in chemistry. But that’s the thing, you’d never suspect it because most of us judge others by their job.

Every so often while I was growing up, my mom would point at random strangers and say “Ranier, look! You see that
janitor? You see that homeless man? He didn’t love his mom and he didn’t go to school. Now he’s homeless. You better
go to school or you’ll end up like him!”

But now, as a logical and much, much more compassionate human being, I’ve noticed the often conflicting lifestyles
people live in comparison to their jobs. The friendly sales lady at the local Kay Jewelers might be a dominatrix on
weekends, and the MMA instructor with the Harley Davidson tattoo might be an avid volunteer at the local animal
shelter. Nowadays, you really can’t judge a person by their profession.

Larry is the security guard in our apartment complex. Whenever Livi and I find ourselves in the parking lot, Larry is there
doing is rounds, checking up on the place to make sure we’re safe. Out of everyone, he’s easily the most friendly and
informative.

Upon asking him about the new regulations for parking, Larry and I wound up chatting for a good ten minutes about work,
his personal life, and his family. Unfortunately for all of us, tonight is Larry’s last shift at the complex. With the apartment
management swapping out its security men with hordes of cameras, Larry has no need to work at this place. Luckily for
him, he’s managed to find a new location up in Standford. He’ll be in a much safer, nicer area – which makes me quite
glad seeing as how he’s such a kind person.

I’m not sure what gravitated me towards him and his story. I guess there are those people in life that you meet, talk to for
a few moments, and you can just tell that they are good people. Solid people with good morals, a big heart, and an open
mind. Whether I will see Larry back in our apartments is an act of security roulette (security guards are contracted to
certain places for a specific duration of time, then they move on to a new location.) But one thing is for sure: no amount
of cameras and high tech gadgetry could ever replace the substance of a nice conversation, and an honest smile.

Thanks for keeping us safe, Larry.

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