Officers-In-Training: "Confessions of an RNC Security Officer."
Leif Erikson might "...stand up, wipe his hands on his jeans, mutter "[@#%!] this" under his breath, slip out the back and not return." But one Republican National Convention (RNC) security officer recruited by a private security company for the RNC sat through 12 hours of training lectures before being dispersed to the RNC. "Those who perform well during the grueling 12-hour shifts before, during and after the convention will be considered for permanent jobs at the security firm."
The instructor is Charles T. Thibodeau, or Chuck, a rotund and self-effacing 65-year-old security consultant bedecked in gold jewelry. Thibodeau leans back, cracks open a can of Rockstar Energy Drink and extols the virtues of non-heroism. He has taken painkillers all week to cope with a recent operation to remove varicose veins and is in something of a confessional mood; having been raised by a town drunk (one of his confessions) he isn't much of a romantic to begin with.
"I'll be the first to admit it," he says, crossing his arms. "I don't fight fair. I fight to win. If you got to take someone out -- sorry, I mean, 'reposition them to the ground' -- you go in with help. Under no circumstances do you go toe-to-toe. You gotta get some beefcake in there. I myself prefer to go in with four to five people. Last thing I want is a level playing field."
"What if you're alone and the guy is coming for you?" asks one of the recruits.
Thibodeau doesn't miss a beat.
"I know what some of you tough guys are thinking," says Thibodeau, draining his Rockstar. "But trust me, unless you've got no escape route and are being seriously threatened, and can prove that in court by crying on the stand, you had better retreat. You either run or you cry. Your choice."
A recruit sitting in the back of the room begins to fidget and sink into his chair. He wears a T-shirt in the ubiquitous purple and yellow of Minnesota Vikings football. The shirt reads "What Would Leif Erikson Do?"
Soon enough the recruit answers his own question: Leif Erikson, it turns out, would stand up, wipe his hands on his jeans, mutter "[@#&!] this" under his breath, slip out the back and not return.
I, however, stay until the bitter end and await my assignment. The following is a log of a night in my life as an RNC security officer. The night shift is 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The RNC Security Officer's Log can be read at the link above (salon.com).