Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Since getting let go from Wavelink back in February of 2008, I had been working part-time and struggling with bills. I was 2 or 3 months behind on my car payment and my rent to my landlords - my best friend Del and his wife Kim, who had treated me like family. I was getting depressed but I wasn't motivated bad enough to get more work. I guess you could say that being miserable was my comfort zone, if that makes any sense.

On September 13th, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, TX. Because I wanted to help the people in Galveston and I needed to make some good money to get caught up on bills, I did some searching at and Houston's Craigslist for Hurricane Ike security jobs. I applied for a couple of security jobs down there. A company called Classic Security which was a subcontractor for Corporate Security Solutions (C.S.S. - the contractor that has the contract with F.E.M.A.) offered me a job. Chris Wilden, my instructor for my bodyguard course, told me that I shouldn't work for C.S.S. He explained that while he was doing security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, some guys that were hired by C.S.S. quit working for C.S.S. and came to work for the company that he was working for. They told him that C.S.S. gets you to come down to the disaster area for work but might not have work for you right away. While you're waiting to be put on a post, you don't get paid. After he told me that, I decided not to go.

About a week later, I talked to Mike (the one from my church that took the bodyguard course with me) and Jim, one of the Associate Pastors at my church, Calvary Chapel S.L.C. Mike told me that I should take advantage of the opportunity to work down there. Jim prayed with me and told me that he thought it would be a good opportunity for me to make some money and get caught up on bills. I called C.S.S. and Classic Security back and asked them about standby pay. They both told me that I would be getting paid 8 hours per day for every day that I was on standby waiting to get put on a job site. I called my Aunt Beverly, told her about the opportunity, and asked her if she could buy me a ticket for a flight down to Houston. She did buy me a round trip ticket and I was very grateful. The day before my flight to Texas, I pawned my computer and my gun (they told me that I wouldn't need it because they were going to issue me a gun) to pay some bills. I assumed that I would make enough money to get them out when I got back from Texas. The night before my flight left, I ran into Trent, who was one of the owners of Club Exchange when I worked there, and told him that I was going down to Houston to do security for F.E.M.A. He offered to rent me a car through his corporate account if I could pay him back when I got back. I thanked him for that.

On Friday, October 10th I flew down to Houston, TX. After I got my rental car, I went to the C.S.S. office in Houston to check in. They sent me down to the F.E.M.A. camp at Galveston where I waited to be posted. The F.E.M.A. camp was a big tent city. There was one huge tent where almost everyone (male and female) slept. It was a bunch of us security guys, a few guys that worked for the company responsible for making credentials for everyone at the camp, some F.E.M.A. employees, some AmeriCorps people, some Salvation Army and Red Cross people, and some people that were with various Christian organizations. There were some smaller tents where some ladies were able to sleep and get more privacy. There was another tent for the cafeteria, a couple of trailers for us to take showers in, some trailers with sinks and mirrors along the side, a tent for the laundry service, and a bunch of porta-pottys. In addition to all of that, they also had a TV tent (with satellite TV and a DVD player), a workout tent, and an internet tent (with computers and a wireless connection). This tent city was at a small airport in Galveston, which is a small town on an island off of the coast of Texas. Galveston was ruined by Hurricane Ike.

I met some awesome people while I was down there. Cal, who was with the company that made credentials for everyone at the camp, is a cool Christian guy, former Green Beret, and writer. There was another cool guy that worked for the same company as Cal but I don't remember his name. I met some great Christian men and women that were there with a Christian organization that helped men and women get their lives back on track. They served us in the cafeteria. I went to a local church with some of the guys from that group. I met a great lady named Dolly who I met in the internet tent. I helped her set up an email account and showed her how to use it because she was new to computers. She was down there volunteering with the Salvation Army.

After being on standby for 6 days and being passed up for job postings which were filled by people hired directly by C.S.S. (cheaper for them than paying a sub-contractor to pay me), I was told that I wouldn't be getting standby pay. I called both Classic Security and C.S.S. on the 7th day to ask why they weren't paying me standby pay like they both told me they would. They both just passed the buck - Classic Security said they couldn't pay me if C.S.S. didn't pay them and C.S.S. said that their policy changed after I went down there. Classic Security also told me that C.S.S. was closing job sites and letting people go. Since Trent had rented me a car on his corporate account and I wasn't going to be paid, I couldn't afford to continue to pay for a rental car while not making any money so I decided to cut my losses and come home the next day. The last 3 days that I was there I went with Dolly and handed out meals with the Salvation Army. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve. So I came back to Utah more broke than when I went down there, owing Trent for the rental car, and didn't have enough money to get my computer and gun out of the pawn shop. Having seen people that were homeless because of Hurricane Ike, I couldn't really feel sorry for myself but I definitely wasn't happy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

STG Bodyguard Course

On August 8-10, while I was still working at Club Orange and Mountain Mike's Pizza, I took Strategic Tactical Group's Executive Protection/ Bodyguard course. Mike, who volunteers for the Security ministry with me at Calvary Chapel S.L.C. and studies Krav Maga, is the one that told me about the course. Our instructor was Chris Wilden. The first day was an introduction to EP work followed by EP Pistol Craft and choreography on the gun range (check out my highlights here). The 2nd day started out with a mock protective detail where Chris was our client. He wanted to go to the Farmer's Market at Pioneer Park. I was assigned to be "loose Security" which means I was further away from the client so I wouldn't draw attention to him. This means that I had to try to be inconspicuous, which was a challenge for me. After the mock detail we had First Aid training, handcuff training, ASP baton training, and O.C./ pepper spray combat training.

You can check out the video of my pepper spray combat training here. We had to get sprayed with the pepper spray and then attack a guy holding a foam shield with a foam ASP baton. There was some regular pepper spray that our instructor sprayed everyone else with but I asked him to spray me with Fox Labs pepper spray, which is the hottest pepper spray on the market. As soon as I got sprayed, I closed my eyes. I was expecting it to "kick-in" but it didn't really hurt. After I had my eyes closed for 10 seconds, Chris told me to open them. When I opened them, I could feel the pepper spray on my eye balls. It irritated my eyes kind of like having shampoo in your eyes so I closed my eyes for another 10 seconds. It still didn't hurt so I opened my eyes, kept them open, and attacked the guy with a foam ASP baton. Then I dropped the baton, closed my eyes, and let Chris spray my face with a hose attached to a container with a hand pump. After they sprayed my face off, I kneeled down in the grass for about 15 minutes and then got up and let the wind dry my eyes out. Chris later said that he has only seen one guy take getting sprayed better than me.

After everyone was done getting sprayed, we went down to the first floor of the clubhouse and waited for Chris's friend Brandon that did Security at the apartment complex we were in to let us out. He had locked the door since the clubhouse and office were closed on the weekend. As we were waiting there, some guy came up to the door and told us that the apartment building across from the clubhouse was on fire. We didn't see any fire but we told him to call the fire department. When Chris's friend let us out I called the fire department. Then me, Brandon, and one of the other guys from the Bodyguard course, Kyle (he's helping Chris in my pepper spray video) went up to the apartment on the 3rd floor that the guy said was on fire. The apartment that the tenant had told us about was on the street side of the building. Kyle stuck his head out the hall window and saw smoke coming out of a window in the apartment. I knocked hard on the door a couple of times but no one answered. Kyle, Brandon, Chris, and me started going door-to-door on each floor telling people to get out because there was a fire. When the firemen showed up they used an axe to open the door and found some food on the stove that someone had left cooking. The burnt food was causing the smoke - there was no fire. I stood by the back door to keep people out until the firemen got done using some fans to blow the smoke out of the building. After the firemen said that it was O.K. for the tenants to come back in, I stood outside talking with Chris, Brandon, and Kyle. Right after Kyle mentioned something about the smoke aggravating the pepper spray in our eyes, my eyes started to water a little bit. I sat in my car for a few minutes and then drove home.

Sunday morning we had some more classroom time (marketing, networking, etc.). Then Chris briefed us on our "final exam" which was another mock detail. He said that our "primary client" was a model from Park City and our "secondary client" was her rockstar boyfriend. She had chosen Brooke, the only lady in our class, to be the protective detail leader. Chris released us to go to lunch and do an advance at the Gateway Mall, where our client wanted to go shopping that afternoon. We all went to lunch at the Gateway mall where Brooke gave us our assignments. She chose Kyle, who is a prison guard in Pocatello, ID and Steve, who is a martial arts instructor at Bushi Ban in American Fork, UT to work "close Security" with her. Since she was the protective detail leader, she would be right next to the primary client at all times. Mike, Eric (Kyle's brother), and I would be "loose Security". Mike and I would be the getaway drivers if an attack happened. We only had a couple of radios so we were relying on cell phones for communication.

We met our clients at the valet parking in the Gateway Mall. It was hard for me to be "loose Security" because I am used to being "close Security". After a while, Eric told me that I was staying too close and was being too obvious. I slowly got further and further away. I didn't find out until later but Mike and Steve had taken the secondary client sightseeing nearby when the "attack" on our primary "client" happened. Our primary "client" and the "close Security" were out of sight because there was a semi parked between me and them. I happened to call Eric right after the "attack" went down and I rushed over to be point man as we escorted our "primary client" to Mike in his car. When we loaded our "client" into the car, Chris let us know that the mock detail was over. We all met at a restaurant at the mall where Chris let us know that our "primary client" (the model from Park City) was actually his sister. We also met the "attacker". Chris critiqued us and then gave us our certificates. Then Chris treated us to dinner.

I felt like I had let Eric's opinion cause me to let myself get too far way from our client. Although I was able to backup the "close Security" right after the "attack", I felt like I should have been doing "close Security" so it was hard for me to be comfortable with doing "loose Security". The fact that we didn't all have radios made it difficult to communicate.

The course was very helpful to me. I learned a lot and had fun. Our class was a fun group of people. Most of us have connected on Facebook.

A few days after the course, I was talking to Mike about how to be more accurate with my handgun so he told me about trigger control. When I Googled "trigger control" just now, I found an article called "The trigger control fallacy". This article says that PIP (pre-ignition push) affects accuracy more than trigger control. I wonder what Mike thinks about that. I'll have to pay attention to both when I'm shooting.

A couple`weeks after the Bodyguard course I got hired to do Security at the Valley Fair Mall. To make a long story short, I quit after 3 or 4 days. I didn't want to work at a job where I was only supposed to observe and report. I quit one day after they wrote me up for chasing a shoplifter. After I quit there, I went back to working at Mountain Mike's. I was also still working Security at Club Orange. I had brought on Brian Servatius, who used to be the Head of Security at Shaggy's and worked with me at Bliss, and his friend Steve, who used to work at Vortex, to help me at Club Orange because business had remained constant on Wednesday nights. In my next blog post I'll talk about the experience that I had when I went to Texas to do Security for F.E.M.A. during the Hurricane Ike clean-up.