So let me set the stage of this edition of Keeping Your Edge: it’s day 26 of a 30 day musical tour, and I’m currently writing this column in the front lounge of a 38’ Tour Bus.
This particular bus has a fully functioning recording studio in the rear, and the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP of a large bass drum has reverberated thought the cabin for the past 2 hours. Oh and did I mention that it’s 2:00 AM? In short, even in a locked, surveillance-monitored lot, Client records on the tour bus, Protector sits on the tour bus.
However, if I were to pull up the shade and peer though the darkly tinted windows I could gaze up lovingly at my hotel, and even visualize the comfortable bed and triple goose down blanket that drapes it. That, I say to myself, would be the perfect end to a 19-hour day, instead it’s business as usual at the “office.”
This is the circumstance that many Protectors around the globe are in. However, if I were to take an unscientific poll, I’d say the amount of aspiring Protectors who say they would be ok with this type of life if it means working in the industry, far exceeds the number actually doing it by a factor of 10. The thing I always caution is; be careful what you wish for. If there is any statement that is true in the business of Close Protection, it’s that your time is not your own.
Don’t believe me? Let’s ask a friend of mine I’m going to call Mr. White (real person). Many years ago, I was there when, through a combination of persistence and being in the right place at the right time, Mr. White was hired as the head of security for an fast-rising Musical artist who is one of the biggest names in the entertainment world. This entertainer has just finished being a support act for a larger tour, and then as a result of his popularity, moved on to headline his own shows.
I describe the touring life as the “gift and the curse.” On one hand, it provides consistent work and a steady revenue stream, on the other hand; it’s long days and nights, and no days off. Remember Mr. White who signed on at the upswing of a career that was about to explode? Well his client went out and did consecutive back-to-back world tours that totaled an astounding three years! Out of the three years, how many days off do you think that Mr. White had? If the number you guessed was 67, you’d be correct. So that’s 67 days out of a total of 1,095. Oh, did I mention that Mr. White has a family?
Now while I won’t give you Mr. White’s salary rate, I will tell you that it was a comfortable one. And as such, you can imagine that he was sending the lion’s share of the income back home to his family. All is well and good right? Stop for a moment and think how Mrs. White might feel that her husband has been away practically three years traveling the world with a highly recognizable figure surrounded by all the excesses of life? These excesses include exotic travel, fine dining, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and of course — beautiful women. Now while you and I know that Mr. White is working, even if it’s in beautiful Monte Carlo, could you imagine that his wife might feel a tinge of hostility towards him knowing that he’s in the sunshine on a yacht while she is transporting the kids to school in a vicious New York City snowstorm?
What about looking at things from Mr. White’s perspective? How do you think he might feel as 95% of his income gets direct deposited into account, used to repeatedly pay bills, which includes the mortgage on a house he doesn’t sleep at, the car note on the lease he doesn’t drive, and the beautiful clothes his wife gets to purchase but never wear around him? This situation could understandably put stress on even the best relationships, and while all Mr. White wanted to do was work consistently in the Close Protection industry, now he is distracted worrying about things at home.
But if our attention is focused thousands of miles away, are we doing our Protectee a disservice? While I am not advocating that this profession is only suitable for single men or women, I am painting a very real picture. In the business of Executive and VIP Protection, our time is not our own. From missed birthdays to rescheduled dental appointments we have to be able to come to grips with that reality and plan accordingly. We have to make sure that our significant others (if we have any) are onboard with our vision BEFORE the assignment starts, and that they can deal with the absence and understand that the “glitz and glamour” is only the window dressing of the world that we operate in, and while our job requires us to be there, we are not partaking in the “fun.”
So as I contemplate the 4 hours of sleep I am going to (hopefully) get before I have to be back up to Advance the next movement, I remind myself this is what I wanted to do, and that I am living my dream. To those whose aspirations are to achieve similar, I just remind you – be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Keeping Your Edge: When Your Time is Not Your Own
By Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shawis the CEO of Icon Services Corporation and The National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association