Saturday, April 8, 2000
@ work 2201 hrs
In the hour since I started work at nine, I’ve won two games of solitaire on the office computer (if “won” is the right word — maybe “finished”); I’ve patrolled the three streets of the East Austin trailer park in which I am now security guard for thirty minutes; and I’ve started this journal entry. I’ve also yawned and scratched my eyes repeatedly.
Through a locked door next to the desk where I now sit is the rec. room. When I first arrived, Spanish music was blasting and the room was filled with happy people — adults and children. I think they may have been having a birthday party. Now I can hear the rustle of plastic trash bags and water running in the sink as they clean up.
The actual job of being a security guard reminds me of a passage written by Tim O’Brien about his time in Vietnam. He said that what he remembered most of being a grunt in the field during war was the horrible monotony of it. The humping (marching), the digging, the sweating, the mosquitoes. The monotony. Monotony and sharp, short bursts of heart-exploding, death-ridden action — fire-fights. Not that I’ve had much on the latter — I’ve only “reminded” an alleged drug dealer that his lease was up and he should have been out of the park a day ago. Not quite a fire-fight with the V.C., but this is the 21st Century. Come on.
This job also reminds me of being in the Air Force. The late night guard shifts, the battle with monotony and sleep, and the fear of some sort of authority finding you asleep on duty (which I never did, by the way). And while this is a much more lax job, it’s probably more dangerous at this point than my military career ever was. The chances of being shot dead by a drug dealer in ghetto East Austin are much greater, I think, than a terrorist breaching security at an Air Force Base and putting a bullet through the head of a student dorm guard’s head.
Guess I’ll go do another round of the park — back in fifteen.
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many junior high kids roaming the streets as I have tonight. My parents never would have let me stay out this late, not even when we lived in small base housing neighborhoods. Certainly, myself and a couple friends would sneak out in the middle of the night (for some reason the darkness and quiet and stillness always held a deep attraction for me) once in a while, but never would my parents have allowed it had they known. That was then and there, though, I suppose, and this is here and now.
The rec. room has now finally emptied and they just returned the key to me.
I’ve left the light on in the rec. room in order to keep the cockroaches from overrunning the adjacent bathrooms as they did last night. I walked in there, turned on the light, and the little critters went scurrying for cover. A few of the elderly and slow were left crushed on the floor by the bottoms of my combat boots as a reminder to the rest. They were probably all cannibalized later in the night as I slept fitfully in my bed. The cockroaches truly have no king.
Three games of solitaire won and counting.
Just finished my third and last patrol for the night. Usually I’d do four patrols — one an hour — but as I got out of the truck after this last one I noticed a hissing sound coming from the rear driver’s side tire. Sure enough, upon close inspection, I found a nail stuck in the tire. So, rather than risk the tire becoming completely flat within the next hour, I just went ahead and parked the truck around behind the building and locked the security fence. Let the maintenance guys worry about it on Monday.
On my first round of the neighborhood this last time, I noticed some neighborhood kids had brought a couch out and put it in their front yard facing the front window of their trailer. In the window sat a TV they’d repositioned so that it was facing the street. Sitting in their front yard on a chilly night watching TV. What strange customs these people have.
Sunday, April 9, 2000
Four games of solitaire and a chapter in A Traveller’s History of Australia.
Five games of solitaire won.
I’m goin’ home.