Jobs, Part 7: Night Guard, BGSU

Night Guard at Bowling Green State University: After my unsuccessful attempts at employment during my Sophomore year, I was determined to find something that worked my return for Junior year. Actually, I was also looking for a decent roommate as well, as my first four semesters consisted of four different roommates, each leaving for different reasons (one joined a Frat, one left school, two moved off campus).

Junior year would pair me up with Charlie, a Freshman who would end up being my roommate on and off campus for several years. After an uneventful Fall semester, we both found our selves looking for jobs in the Spring and ended up applying to be night guards at the front desk of Founders. The job worked like this – there were two shifts, a midnight to four A.M. shift, and a midnight to eight A.M. shift.

During the week, and for college the week was Sunday to Thursday, a Resident Advisor was on-duty, meaning they had to respond to any calls, for a twenty-four hour period, and at designated times the R.A. and night guard would walk the entire building (called a “round”) on the lookout for any quiet hours violations or disturbances. The first walk usually took place between midnight and 12:30 A.M, the second around two A.M. For the most part, weekdays were quieter and less trouble, so only one R.A. and two night guards (one on the short shift and one on the long). Weekends, however, were different story.

Damian and Charlie on duty

Thursday through Saturday were high traffic nights, so they employed two R.A.’s and four night guards, alternating shifts in teams of three, which meant that two night guards worked the short shift and two worked the long.

Founders had the distinction of being a mixed gender and class dorm, meaning Freshman may room with Seniors, and men and women lived next door to each other. Unlike the all-male or all-female dorms, or even the separated by Quad or floor dorms, this had more of a hotel feel which had it’s positives and negatives when trying to maintain peace and order.

On the one had, since six-person suites had their own living room, there was an entire room between the hallway and bedroom, which cut down on noise. On the other hand, that meant you could jam lots of people into one room. The number of times we’d be on a weekend round a come upon a six-person suite that sounded like a downtown bar were too many to count. When we had to intervene, a knock on the door with an “R.A.” was usually followed by the sounds of clanking beer cans and bottles, and “shhhhh.” Most nights were easy, but every once in a while we’d encounter people who were totally uncooperative, which then led to calling in the campus police.

The front door of Founders Hall

A lot of the infractions were run of the mill type things: underage drinking, noise violations during quiet hours, etc. Since Founders was the dorm at the farthest edge of campus next to the town, there were a lot of random folks trying to get in through the front door, sometimes to use a bathroom, but other times just to get out of the cold during the winter. We even had a few vomiters, which always confused me, because I’d rather vomit outside on grass than on some tile or concrete floor.

Charlie, in custom "STAFF" shirt

At some point during Spring semester, the night guard career almost came to an abrupt halt. The roommates and I decided to have some folks over for a party in our suite, nothing big, just a few dozen or so. It helped that I still had a fully-stocked bar in my closet, and my mixology classes had gone swimmingly. Of course, we did what all partying college students do – get too loud. Soon a knock on the door came thanks to one particular moron (i.e. – a roommate’s friend, not mine) walking aimlessly through halls, stumbling upon the R.A. and night guards on a round and asking “where’s the party in 248?” They followed said moron to our room and knocked. Charlie and I answered the door, faced to face with an R.A. we had both been on rounds with ourselves. This was the R.A.’s first experience with a large group, and she balked. As soon as she suspected (and she should have) that underage drinking was happening, she should have entered the room, started writing down violations, reviewing campus I.D.’s and busting the shit out of us. Instead, she just said, “keep it down,” turned and walked away.

Almost immediately, we made a b-line for the campus bars, but the following week, Charlie and I got a call to visit the dorm administrator, where he flat out told us we got lucky, the R.A. freaked and blew the bust, but that if it ever happened again, we’d not only lose our jobs, but have to bigger problems (i.e. – campus police). Message received. While we had several 21+ age roommates, and alcohol was permissable in the room, that was the last big party.

During my Junior and (1st) Senior years, Charlie and I night-guarded in Founders. I spent my 2nd Junior year off campus, and night-guarded sporadically around campus during the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as the Summers before and after that year. There is only one incident that still sticks out in my mind after all these years, and it happened during the second Summer off-campus.

Now, night-guarding during the Summer today is probably a lot more interesting today what with iPads and iPods and web streaming and NetFlix. Back in 1997, none of that existed. It was sitting at a desk with a cd player, some homework from a few Summer classes and lots of boredom.

While working in the Kreischer Quad front desk one evening, a young man named Frank checked in. Now, during the Summer, Kreischer housed very few people, but was home to those who were not yet academically elligible to go to BG and had to take classes to make up whatever deficiencies they had. They were what you would call the “troubled” kids.

Anyway, Frank shows up, and we had said “hi” at most previously, and starts shooting the shit with me. We talked for a good 15-20 minutes about I don’t know what, but he went on his room. Maybe a half hour later, the R.A. on duty shows up and we head out on a round. As we entered one particular hallway, the overwhelming stench of weed is present and is easily traceable to one room. We don’t even bother to start with a knock. A call to the campus fuzz and they meet us ten or fifteen minutes later. Cop whaps the door, and it opens to my buddy Frank, in full “I was just sleeping mode” pretend-confused by our visit.

The cop makes it clear, he knows there are drugs in the room, and Frank and roomie (who’s lying in his bunk) can turn them over now, or the cop can call the drug-sniffing dog down from Toledo, which is like twenty minutes away. Frank thinks it over, grabs a book bag from behind a pile of junk, opens it, and hands the cop a tinfoil ball. The cop unravels the tinfoil ball and discovers, shockingly, a giant bag of weed. At this point, Frank starts begging for mercy. He got kicked out high school for drugs, this is his last chance, etc. Frank’s prospects for a full and enriching Freshman year have apparently taken a turn, and soon after, Frank and his roomie are escorted from the building to visit the campus police station. Frank seemed like a nice guy, so I hope he got his life sorted out.

All my years of night-guarding were a natural precursor for my next job, the logical progression, if you will: Resident Advisor.

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