Never rely on other people. People will let you down. Cover all your bases.
Think that sounds a bit cynical? Well, perhaps you’re right, but having been in the industry for over 30 years, and with a ‘Rock Star family’ as my current employers, it’s incredible how many times I’m reminded of this mantra and the virtues of following it. Maybe it’s just being in and around the music business, but I think everyone can take something away from this approach.
To put this into context, let me recount the details of an assignment where I found myself in an unwanted situation and was given a stark reminder of the virtues of following this mantra.
Recently, in the line of duty, I found myself at a well-known music festival, near Nottingham, in the UK. Things got off to a bad start when I was not able to gain entry due to the required, identification laminates not being sorted, even though it had been arranged in advance.
Do you ever get the feeling that things are going to go wrong, but you can’t quite put your finger on it?
Let me back up a little. At this point, I was already inside the festival compound and had managed to get within 100meters of the backstage area, without any identification. The PR department of my principal’s band had assured me that my pass would be waiting for me at the Artist Liaison point.
First nagging feeling. Am I too reliant on others?
Guess what? Yep, that’s right, no laminate! I can already hear the voice in my head. As it would turn out, my laminate was actually there, but the lady on duty, who was determined to ensure that I knew just how tired she was, could not find it, despite ‘thoroughly’ searching her bucket!
Second nagging feeling. People will let you down.
After what seemed an eternity and due to typical, lousy, phone reception at these events, I was unable to get ahold of any of my band contacts. As a last resort, a text was sent explaining the situation and requesting help. I waited for a reply. None came.
Okay, time to adapt and improvise. I asked a steward if I could use his comms unit to try and get ahold of control and relay a message through to backstage.
Now, either I was speaking Swahili, or the person on the other end was from another planet! Either way, the end result was the same, and I had no assurance that my message was ‘received and/or understood’!
Third nagging feeling. Have I covered all bases?
At this stage, I have only a few possibilities left open to me if I want to resolve the situation before the curtain raises.
Ring my Boss. This would never be a preferred option, and given that he was likely to be, either, in a press conference, or, doing a sound check, it was an even bigger no-no!
Return to Artist Liaison and have it out with the hopelessly tired, young lady on duty. Having already failed once with this tactic, I wasn’t prepared to waste more valuable time listening to her self-pitying.
A final option glimmered faintly in the distance; two festival stewards stood guarding the internal gate. Could these two unlikely candidates be my knights in fluorescent vests?
Short of other options, I gritted my teeth and ventured in their direction.
Actually, I drove the short distance to them; it was muddy, and with everything else I was dealing with, I didn’t want to have to contend with dirty boots!
I was approached by a young steward in his mid-twenties, who was proudly sporting a newly acquired SIA (Security Industry Authority) Frontline operator badge. I explained my predicament and shared a few stories with him, nothing sensitive or about my current engagement, but enough to spike his interest and hopefully get him onside. I had hoped that he might be able to expedite a resolution to my situation by firing a message up through the chain of command; what I hadn’t expected was that he’d be more than willing to let me just drive straight through!!
Heck, I needed access, and I needed it fast, but always, my greatest concern, is for the safety and security of my principal, and this blasé attitude did nothing to reassure me.
However, not to worry, up steps his companion, an 18-year-old female steward, who according to the frustrated, wannabe bodyguard, was not good enough to be on duty with him, an actual badged security professional. She politely asked if she could be of any help.
Then, confidently, she explained that because I had no identification, and despite knowing all the registration plates of the bands convey of cars and the identities of all the entourage, etc., that it would, in fact, not be possible for me to go any further. Her opposite number, having been overruled and somewhat embarrassed, then began to remonstrate with her saying that I should be let in! Unbelievable.
I couldn’t waste more precious time watching these kids squabble at my expense, so, in a move which left the male steward red-faced, I congratulated the girl for her professionalism and steadfastness. I also left her with the details of a few contacts I had at better security firms and told her she could use me as a reference if she ever applied for work with them!
I aborted this course of action, and while I may have left the area with a wry smile, ultimately, I was no further forward after this frustrating endeavor.
As I reflected on this ridiculous predicament, I was left to rue finding myself in a situation where I’d become overly reliant on other people and vowed to stick to my mantra, no matter how cynical it sounds!
And, in case you’re wondering, the story does have a happy ending. Another laminate appeared 10 minutes later, on the end of a runner’s hand; It seems like my text had got through after all! Because I’d covered all my bases, it paid off, and I was able to proceed with the correct accreditation and perform the function I was there to fulfill.
Over the years, I have worked with some fantastic DS (Door Supervisor) badge holders in CP roles and some very poor so-called CPO’s. The badge doesn’t make you a good operator; understanding your role and duties, and performing them diligently, does. Have humility and admit when you don’t know something and remember that people can make mistakes, even you!
Common sense is the most valuable commodity for any person working in security, and guess what, there isn’t a certificate for that!
A Mantra to Operate By
By: David Dann
David has over 30 years’ experience within the security industry and has filled various roles from escorting artists at music festivals to protecting HNW’s and celebrities, through to his current role where he manages the security interests of a well-known Musician and his family. David is also a qualified instructor and has taught CP, DS, CCTV, First Aid Level 3, paediatrics and Stewarding.