Keeping up Appearances
Three people walk into a bar.
Its later at night, busy, loud, and the place is filling up.
The first guest is a well dressed gentlemen. He looks like he just stepped out of the office and is coming for a late night drink before heading home.
He’s wearing a suit, tie, carrying a briefcase and is well groomed.
He walks up to the bar and orders his drink before making his way across the bar to people watch while having his drink.
Behind him, a young female. After checking her ID, she is of legal age but not much more. She’s trendy, attractive, the life of the party type of girl. She orders a martini and heads to a circle of girls that seem to be drawing a large amount of attention from the single male crowd.
Lastly, a rough and tumble type guy walks in. Ripped jeans, tattoos, and a generally unkempt appearance.
His mannerisms, and appearance are both dark and edgy. People take notice and ensure that they are taking a step back – giving him a bit more space.
He orders a beer and remains at the bar. His mere existence is slightly unsettling for some.
As security professionals, we are trained to take it all in.
We observe everyone, how they act, what they look like, what they’re doing – as much as we possibly can.
From there, we assess the situation. If people look non threatening, less focus tends to be spent on them. Attention remains on those that look like they may cause problems.
While observations may not always work out as they were originally planned, one thing that is for certain – minds need to be kept open.
Not everything is always as it seems.
If given the above three options, you were asked which one seemed the most suspicious, the most likely to cause problems, most people wouldn’t hesitate to pick the third option. The rough and tumble edgy one.
Just because someone looks like they could be a problem – that doesn’t make them a problem.
Especially in a world where mind altering drugs, alcohol, and other substances seem so readily available and commonly consumed.
The most “normal” looking person could be under the influence of something that could make them possibly someone they’re not. Drugs and alcohol can make people do some crazy things.
Sometimes actions and reactions are more of a process, and you can observe the start of a change and monitor the situation more closely to prevent things from getting out of hand.
Other times, a situation can evolve quickly and things can suddenly become more volatile – leaving less time for prevention and have you scrambling to end the situation.
Every person – every situation can be different.
A gentleman walked into a store selling super cars and was dressed in old ripped jeans and a t-shirt. Slightly disheveled and looking like they aren’t anyone special. Behind him, a well dressed, sharp looking gentleman walks in. Odds are, the sales person will ignore the person they’ve deemed a lesser likely individual to purchase a car, and focus all of their attention on the one that looks ‘richer’.
Obviously the little things we learned growing up such as ‘never judge a book by its cover’, don’t always translate into our adult lives. And this isn’t always right – and definitely not fair.
While the ‘richer’ looking person may look like he belongs there, that doesn’t mean he does. The average looking gentleman could have just won the lottery, or be incredibly humble.
Presentation and appearance are important in life, but it should never be considered the bottom line.
Appearance and how we look can only get us so far, who we are as people, and what we do in our lives are going to be the factors that move us through the day.
While taking a quick look at an individual you may think you can uncover all you need to know, or all you need to worry about in a quick up and down glance – understand that all you have had is a glance. A small glimpse into what you have decided this persons life is.
As security, and as people, we owe society more than that.
We need to ensure we’re taking in the whole package, and not reducing a situation to first impressions.
While keeping up appearances is important, there is always more to the person underneath the suit and tie.
Guest Blogger Rayna Davies
Rayna Davies is a graduate and practitioner of Business Management. She has developed an expertise in blogging, covering subjects like travel, world events and security. Having grown up with a father who has developed an expertise in Physical Security and Executive Protection in the RCMP and two major corporations, she has personally observed and experienced many security details. These experiences have included personally meeting HM Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and many celebrities. She presently assists Sentinel Security in Executive Protection workshops and guest blogging and also assists Gloprosec Preventative Services in Intelligence gathering and Business Administration. Her passions include World travel, having visited every continent.