I was taken aback when I first saw the checklist – 18 locations for every round, four times a shift! I was about to begin my first round as a security officer at a tertiary institution.
“It might look like a lot but actually it’s not,” said 67-year-old Senior Security Officer Jeffery Chan. Mr Chan, who works for P & P Security Services Pte Ltd, has been a security officer for the past eight years in the school. He is so familiar with the school that he doesn’t have to bring the checklist with him during his rounds anymore.
The task seemed like a walk in the park, but I also had to keep my eyes peeled for anything out of place – were doors to rooms not in use locked, and were there any faulty equipment like blown bulbs that had to be reported?
“How long does it take for you to do your rounds usually?” I asked Mr Chan. He said that the ideal duration is between 30 mins to an hour.
“Too fast means you are not checking your rounds properly. Too slow means you are taking your own sweet time,” he elaborated.
Taking A Breather
It took us an hour to do the rounds – my fault, because it was my ‘first day on the job’. I combed through a block which consisted of two wings, seven storeys each. Most of the corridors were not air-conditioned, except for the main lobby, and they were poorly ventilated. The round was enough to leave me drained.
“Okay now let’s go to number 19,” said Mr Chan.
“Huh, number 19? But I don’t see it in the list,” I asked, confused.
“Oh, number 19 is where we’ll go to take a breather,” he joked, and I sighed with relief as I could not imagine doing any more rounds.
My relief was short-lived as we entered the basement car park.
“We don’t really have to do our rounds in the car park as it is open to the public. But we do it anyway because we’ve had cases of vandalism and people sleeping here,” he said.
And when someone gets stuck at the car park gantries for whatever reasons, Mr Chan also has to attend to it.
One Man Show
Throughout the rounds, I could sense that Mr Chan was grateful for having me for company.
My day as a security officer was during the school holiday, so I didn’t get to interact much with students. But when school is in session, the tide gets rougher.
“I’ll have to do my rounds every three hours, attend to visitors, students and couriers in the lobby, and escort vendors who want to top up drinks in the vending machines. Everything,” said Mr Chan.
“When I first started, I did feel overwhelmed. I had to do so many things and I am the only officer here. But I took things in my stride and after a while, I got used to it,” he said.
I admire his motivation for work even though his tasks seemed overwhelming to me for one person. His cheerful disposition exemplifies his determination, and I learned from my experience with him to never to give up when the going gets tough.