More from “Withholding.” (Sir Galahad Security, Part I.)

Sir Galahad Security–1991-94–2 1/2 years—Almost Full-Time (39 1/2 hours a week) Security Guard.

Part One.

Two of my New Guild housemates, James and Collin, had landed jobs as sorority house security guards with a company called Sir Galahad Security. They said the work was easy, and I figured if those two idiots could get hired, so could I.

The company was own by a self-involved yuppie (and rumored coke-head) named Rod Silverstein, who worked out of his condo in Northwest Austin. Early on in the interview, Rod indicated he wanted to hire me, but instead of instructing me on things I should do to protect myself and our clients in emergency situations, he spent most of our meeting talking about his sex life:

–You know, trying to juggle three girlfriends at once is more trouble than you’d think. Each girl has to get two nights a week. Two of them also get one weekend night apiece, but that means the third one feels left out unless you give her a third night during the week. So there’s never any rest. It’s just constant with them.

But I wasn’t hired immediately, because Rod didn’t have any openings at that time. I went back to job-hunting and put Sir Galahad Security out of my mind. But then two months later, Rod called and told me I could start.

It turns out a guard at the Alpha Phi sorority house was a Peeping Tom. He used to hide and watch the girls make out with their boyfriends on the front porch. One night, he followed a girl down to the basement and watched as she did her laundry in her underwear. When she caught him, she didn’t tell the House mother—she called her father, and Daddy got the perv fired immediately. I was his replacement.

I applied for a Texas Private Investigators and Security Officer’s License. I think Sir Galahad Security covered the cost initially, then took it out of my pay. I was issued a smelly, itchy, sweat-stained uniform shirt and a badge, and had to supply my own black shows and pants.

I was also given a clip-on tie to wear—the rational for it being that if a criminal grabbed me by the tie and tried to choke me with it, the tie would come off in his hand. But I never wore it. I always wore a real, hand-tied black necktie of my own. It was bad enough that I was having to wear an ugly polyester shirt, but I was damned if I was going to wear a clip-on tie. If I got choked to death, so be it, but at least I’d die like a gentleman.

I started working at Alpha Phi, which was in the south part of the UT campus, just down from the Littlefield Fountain. When I arrived at work I’d call in to the office or the answering service, then go unlock a big ugly Sir Galahad Security box in a closet, and take out my log book and an incident report pad. There was also a big police flashlight, but I never carried it. I’d make my initials rounds inside and out, and then I was technically supposed to make rounds every thirty to forty-five minutes, but I was never that diligent.

I was also expected to walk the girls out to their cars, though in all the years I spent with Sir Galahad, I was almost never asked to walk them from their cars back to the house. That might have been hard to co-ordinate in those days before cell phones. A few times in my guarding days I had girls pull their cars up in front of the house, run the twenty to forty feet to the front door, stick their heads in and tell me to come out and meet them in the parking lot and walk them in, but this didn’t happen often. Why did the girls feel it safe for them to run from the curb to the door, but thought the area between the parking lot and the house was filled with slobbering rapists?

If I had several girls call on me in a row, I found the repeated standing up made me nauseated. It was as if a pair of hands, rather than mere gravity, was pulling on the underside of my stomach.

We had two field supervisors, Ken C___ and Ramon. Any time they made rounds among the houses the guards would call each other up and spread the alarm.

Ken was a wimpy guy who drove a blue Volvo, wore glasses, and always had this annoyingly pained expression on his face, as if his underwear fit him too tightly and he was coming down with a migraine.

Ramon was an overly-serious law-and-order asshole who’d tried and failed to get on with a real police force. But he kept the obnoxious cop attitude, and always came to work wearing a utility belt full of totally unnecessary weapons and law enforcement gee-gaws.

Though Rod was borderline lax about rules, Ramon was strict. I never understood this. Why try to enforce rules your boss cares nothing about? At any rate, Ramon was always looking for mistakes and rule infractions so he could chew us out or write us up.

Ramon actually cultivated a small group of disciples who thought the way he did. One night I ran into a tall lummox of a guard who was loaded down with a police flashlight, handcuffs, pepper spray, nunchaku, a Taser, and a police baton. I was stunned.

–Where the fuck are you going with all that shit—to quell a riot in Attica?

–No, man, just another night at the Tri Delt House.

–Jesus Christ! I figure if there’s any problem I can’t solve with my Zippo and cigarette case, I’m running the other way.

At the end of a shift at Alpha Phi, around 5 or 6am or so, I’d lock up, call in, then swing by St. Austin’s Catholic Church on Guadalupe, and make one round of all its buildings—the Church, Office, Rectory, Newman Hall, Hecker Hall, Kitchen, Paulist Hall, Parish Center and Gym, and School and Cafeteria.

One night I went over to the Church, but before I started on my rounds I sat my rather heavy backpack down in a secluded corner of the courtyard. When I got back it had been stolen. I looked everywhere, retraced my steps several times, second-guessed myself, and even checked all the dumpsters in the alley for several blocks. But I found nothing.

I freaked out, and hung around the church for a couple hours until it opened up, and left word with the Church Office to let me know if they found it. I lost a couple books, a journal, a term paper I’d started writing, and several personal items. I felt as if I’d been raped. I assumed some homeless guy had happened by and swiped it, hoping to find some valuable loot.

The sorority houses closed for about a month-and-a-half over the Christmas holidays, so Rod gave me the opportunity to make some money working at the Austin Nature Center, which was located in South Austin in Zilker Park, off Barton Springs Road, just south of Town Lake. The Nature Center was hosting an exhibition of animatronic dinosaurs called “Dinosaurs Alive!,” which was housed in a huge tent on a hill overlooking the Nature Center. Our job was to protect the displays, as well as the big, inflatable dinosaur that advertised the show and sat on another hill, overlooking Mopac Expressway.

Because my shift started at such a late hour, I wasn’t able to get a bus out there, so I got rides from other New Guild residents. In the morning, I’d usually have to waste a lot of money on a cab back home.

The setting was rather creepy. The Center was located  in a forest at the end of a road, that branched off Barton Springs Road. The Nature Center building consisted of a gift shop and one or two classrooms overlooking a shallow lagoon. At the end of a wooden walkway was a small collection of cages containing wild mammals, birds, and reptiles, who had a tendency of making odd sounds at night. The restroom and Sir Galahad Security box was located in an old stone and timber cabin that was used for Boy Scout meetings. Since I hate walking into darkened buildings, I was always scared of what I might find when I went in there.

The dinosaur tent  was maybe one-fourth the size of a football field. A path twisted around so as to display the dinosaurs to the best effect. The dinosaurs each had their own  “naturalistic” setting.

I never got to see the dinosaurs in action, and I was afraid to flip the switches on my own, lest I break something. But I did wonder, if I ever did get the controls to work, if I could get the Stegosaurus to fellate me, since the head was lowered to more or less the right angle. Alas—those were long nights.

Most of the time I just sat in the gift shop area, read, or listened to the radio. But I was always terrified that some intruder would walk in and attack me.

New Year’s Eve 1991 was lousy. I had to go to bed around 9pm, and skip all festivities, so I could get up early enough to be at the tent by 6am to put in a twelve-hour shift.

When the sorority houses opened back up, I was transferred out of the Dino Tent and back to West Campus. Somebody shot the inflatable dinosaur from a passing car, and the Austin Nature Center canceled the Sir Galahad contract.

For one reason or another I was transferred from Alpha Phi to Alpha Xi Delta, which was known as “The Cow Palace,” because it was one of the least prestigious sororities on campus, and tended to have a lot of unattractive girls in its membership. I worked that house for about a year. I remember a lot of embarrassing incidents happening there.

There was one fat girl who got really drunk and her friends brought her home, but she slipped away from them and tried to head back outside so she could do more drinking. She was crawling on her hands and knees, snorting. Her friends discovered she’d escaped and came after her, but she put up a struggle, and I was asked to help subdue her.

At the time, there was a popular hip-hop song called “Jump,” by a duo of pre-adolescents who performed under the name “Kris Kross.” The kids’s gimmick was they wore their clothes backwards. One night the pint-sized boyfriend of one of the Alpha Xi Delta girls showed up at the door dressed like Kris Kross and carrying an enormous jam box. He asked if I’d call his girlfriend and have her come downstairs. Shortly thereafter, she crept downstairs with two friends, clad in their pajamas, and the boyfriend turned on the jam box, and performed an elaborate break dance routine to “Jump” in the front hallway.

I don’t think I’d ever felt more embarrassed for another person before.

Some girls approached my table one night and told me they’d just gotten home from a night out, and had been undressing in their room. They had their blinds down about halfway, and when one girl sprawled out on her bed, she noticed there was a guy trying to look into the window.

I went outside and walked around the building. I hitched up my belt and sucked in my gut. I turned a corner and saw a male college student pressed against the building, occasionally bending over to sneak looks in at the window. In my best Texas Sheriff voice, I called out,

–Hey there, boy! Whatchu think you’re doin’?!

He took off running and I, as they say, gave chase. As dozens of girls saw my usually sedentary ass running past their windows, they knew something was up, and started screaming. I chased that fucker all the way around the house, even managing to skirt around the pool without falling in, but he got out the back gate and disappeared.

Though I didn’t catch the perp, my efforts were noticed. I was the hero for weeks, and even the House Mother held off her complaints for awhile.

I remember sitting at my desk one night. Here I was, spending the night in a sorority house, eating a pizza, and watching “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane,” with Andrew Dice Clay. Many young men would be thrilled to death to be in my place, but I was unhappy.

I’d never liked jobs that made me feel like a servant or a neutered non-person, and this definitely fit that bill. I didn’t think the girls or the House mothers even regarded me as a human being, much less an equal.

I’d spend my afternoons and evenings in the smoking room of Quack’s Coffee House on The Drag, decked out in a tweed jacket and necktie, smoking cigars and scented Egyptian cigarettes, writing or telling stories to my friends and fans. I’d stay at Quack’s as late as I possibly could, then run over to New Guild, rush through the Main House, the Breezeway, the Annex, up the stairs, and into my room, change into the ugly uniform that transformed me into a piece of shit wrapped in skin, then run down the rickety back stairs, down Nueces Street, then cut over to Rio Grande and the Alpha Xi Delta House.

But one night as I was walking quickly away from New Guild I felt very cold all of a sudden. I couldn’t have been inside changing clothes more than seven minutes, and I had on the same number of layers as I did earlier. So why was I so much colder?

Though there was no street light on on Nueces right that minute, I did a quick scan of my person. I discovered that not only had I neglected to zip up my fly, but my penis was also sticking out of it. I guess it’s a good thing I made this discovery before showing up at the front door of the sorority house.

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