March 10, 2002 - 4:16 p.m.

Do Security Guards Make You Feel Secure? 

I wonder if you feel like I do. Every store in America now has some security guard stationed at the front door. Who can blame them? Recently at our holistic food store, a manager and 2 employees were shot for change in a charity box. Don't get me wrong, I am sure that stores are much safer with any ding dong in a badge sitting on a stool near the front. Even at the Emergency Room the other day (another story) and no medical staff could be found, I asked the 90-year-old toothless half-asleep guard where I should go. Not only did he tell me where to go and what to sign, he even pointed in the general direction.

However, when I spy one of these guards, I get nervous. Obviously they are sizing me up. When I leave the store, it is even worse. In my mind, a host of questions must come up in their minds: "did she steal something and hide it in her purse?" "she doesn't look like a criminal - but you can never be too sure." "she looks nervous, she must be up to something." Lately, I've been trying to figure out how to deal with my paranoia. Do I look him straight in the eye letting him know I have nothing to fear? Or, do I glance and a small smile and try to look innocent as a lamb? To I continue talking with my associates as if I don't notice him? How are these attempts interpreted? Even if I were stopped and asked to be searched - even though I have done nothing wrong - do I refuse and ask to phone my attorney? Or, fuck it - look in there you schmuck, you are an idiot?

The other day, I was carrying illegal contraband into several stores. For some reason, I wasn't nervous. I felt as if the security guards had a right to size me up, question my intentions and even stop me. Of course, then I would call my lawyer friends who often carry illegal contraband themselves.

It's an odd dilemma to feel guilty while innocent and innocent while guilty. Does anyone else feel this way? Please email me.

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