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Towards the end of his 2016 memoir Born to Run, the singer Bruce Springsteen recalls he was in Paris with his wife Patti Scialfa in 2011 for an anniversary holiday. “About three days in, Gil Gamboa, our security person, knocked on our hotel door in the afternoon. When I opened the door, all I saw was his eyes glazed with tears. He choked out that Clarence had had a very serious stroke and was in the hospital. I left for Florida.” Clarence was Clarence Clemens, C for short, Springsteen’s beloved saxophone player. After Clemens died in the hospital, Springsteen took a swim in the sea, and ‘tried to imagine my world without Clarence’. He swam back to land and went back to his hotel.

Gate-keeper

That story tells several things, besides the bond between Springsteen and his E Street Band. For any VIP as for the rock singer, as in many other fields of security management, the ‘security person’ is the gate-keeper; which means that Gamboa received messages and was the bearer of the bad news. Gamboa’s reaction shows that unavoidably, unless you’re without a heart, you form connections; you don’t just work for people, you work with them. To be a security or any professional not only means that you do your job competently; you do that job while managing personal feelings. The story is modern because not only cultural plutocrats like Springsteen, but politicians, business people and just people on holiday while away from home are often in liminal, edgy places, neither home nor strange – besides hotels, airports and ports (if they are going on a cruise ship) and shopping malls. Life doesn’t stop; people have to be fed, entertained, protected; they fall sick, even die. Hence a cruise ship has a mortuary because statistically, if thousands of people are on board, someone will die sooner or later.

More on hotel and hospitality security, in the February 2019 print issue of Professional Security magazine. See also in the January 2019 print issue, page on the security officer of the year awards from the Institute of Hotel Security Management, awarded in London last month.

Picture by Mark Rowe; Hyatt Regency Hotel, Broad Street, Birmingham city centre.


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