Last Friday a security guard at a local Costco (a cut price on
everything store) shot and killed a customer who was arguing over the
price of a pair of sweatpants.

Ah yes. It’s an age-old question for the gun-toting security guards
(how did these guys ever get licensed to carry weapons anyhow?) — just
where to draw the line? Sweatpants or T-shirts? Levis or corduroys?
Socks or pajamas?

The aftermath to the situation is even more absurd. It turns out that
the security guard, Carlos “Peppy” Pugliese, has been in and out of
trouble with the law since he was 12-years-old. Hmmmm. Yeah, yeah, I
know what you’re asking. So what happened to pre-employment screening?
(Or maybe Pugliese just knew how to beat the lie detector.)

The disclosure came as “shocking news” to Costco officials. “We can’t
imagine how this happened,” said one higher up who chose to remain
nameless. “We’ve never had anything like this happen before.”

Well, maybe not. But plenty of other Southern California stores have.
In fact, the statistics of security guards either injuring or killing
patrons is, well … alarming would be putting it mildly.

To see what a half-assed job California is doing of regulating the
private security industry, I checked out the files from the last five
years. Hot damn! Some of these guys make Clint Eastwood look like a rank

June 1995: A security guard at the Topanga Plaza shopping mall shot
and killed a man who he thought was attempting to rob a car. It turned
out that the man had lost his keys and was trying to get into the side
window of his own vehicle with a clothes hanger. The guard was not

April 1996: An Orange County security guard shot and fatally wounded
a fellow security guard when the two began arguing over who was going to
“date” a girl that both of them had been dating. Both guards were
terminated from their positions.

August 1996: In South Los Angeles, a security guard who was not
authorized to carry a weapon killed a shoplifter with a gun he pulled
out of an ankle holster. The guard said the gun — a .38 Police Special
— was his own. “I’m gonna be packin’ whether or not it’s legal,” said
Daniel Benton, 28, of Torrance, Calif.

March 1997: A security guard raped and killed a 16-year-old girl in
the parking lot of the Northridge Shopping Mall. The guard had
reportedly been stalking the girl for several months.

June 1998: A security guard was charged with manslaughter after he
shot and killed a man that he had said was shoplifting. When the man was
examined, no stolen items were found on his person.

September 1999: A security guard at the famed Clifton’s Cafeteria in
downtown Los Angeles was charged with murder after fatally shooting an
83-year-old man. Spectators said that the elderly man had tried to stop
the guard from beating up a 16-year-old boy who had attempted to steal a
piece of apple pie.

April 1999: A 19-year-old bank security guard shot and seriously
wounded a bank patron who was yelling at one of the tellers. The teller
failed to press charges, and the guard was fired.

And on it goes. It would almost be comedic until you stop to consider
the repercussions of the whole deal. When security guards aren’t
shooting one another, they’re shooting unarmed citizens!

Just who are security guards anyhow? I’ve always basically
written these guys off as morons — but, mistakenly, I somehow thought
of them as “harmless morons.” Wrong. Two things had changed that
(rather stupid) notion. First, I noticed that more and more of these
guys were packing. Second, last year I went to work at a firm that hired
out security guards to various concerns. I was interested to see what
the screening process entailed.

To put it simply, there was none. I mean, yeah, there was a token
test and all that — but the person grading it would pass anybody. Why?
Well, because they needed guards to fill positions, and there really
aren’t that many bozos out there who are willing to work for eight bucks
an hour or whatever it is they pay these doofuses. I think you get my
drift. And the thing is, with the new laws, all a guy has to do once
he’s gotten his guard card to carry a (unconcealed) weapon is to pass a
shooting test. Piece of cake.

The result is, any idiot can be a security guard. Now, the truth is,
there aren’t as many gung ho, gun-happy security guards as there are,
say, gung ho, gun-happy cops. You know, guys with no necks, who like to
throw their power around. A lot of the security guards, most of them in
fact, are just trying to make a buck. But, hey, you get that gun on,
you get your shoes all spit shined, your hair cut in a butch, and
suddenly, something happens to you. I know. When I got my concealed
weapons permit, something changed in me. Hey, I was packing man.
And for a while, I was just waiting for some jerk to mess with me so I
could stick that sucker in his face. I’m ashamed to say that I even
acted out on a couple of occasions — pulled down on somebody that I
really didn’t have to. Yeah, it’s a power trip — no two ways of putting

Fortunately, I got over my Clint Eastwood Jones without doing
something stupid. But the average high school dropout who gets his guard
card, well — to put it succinctly — he’s not the most intelligent
cat. And that’s why we’ve got the kind of statistics that we discussed

The sad truth is, it’s not going to get any better. It’s going to get
worse. Any dumbo can get himself a badge and a gun, and — if you don’t
watch your stuff — you might just be on the other end of one of those
idiots one day while you’re shopping for a pair of pants at

Do I have any answers?

Yeah, I do.

Stay home.

GOLDMAN HOOH HAH: Is hyping his stuff every week all that guy
Goldman does? Well, if you wanna know the truth, yeah. I mean, at least
I don’t disguise it like some other folks I could mention. I mean, yes,
I enjoy writing my column and all that, but what I enjoy most is making
money on the Net. And the truth is, I’ve gotten spoiled this year. In
addition to becoming a Web celebrity, having a best-selling book,
Secrets Of The Super Snoopers, I’ve learned one
of the most important things about the Net. STAY OFF OF IT! That’s
right. If you really want to be a success on the Net, stay the hell off
the thing. It’s odd, but the less time I spend on the Net, the better my
business does. I don’t get it, but
it’s true.

Long ago, I stopped reading all those stupid books that tell you how
to succeed on the Web. Forget ’em all I say! The deal is, either you
have a good product or you don’t. Yeah, you can fool people with crap
for a while, but not for long. So delete those e-mails that you’re
flooded with each day. Don’t respond to people when they e-mail you.
Write them letters instead. Call them on the phone. Stop surfing the
Net. Go for a walk. Read a book.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a new millennium and all that. So bloody what?
Nothing ever really changes — especially that most noxious and
predictable of animals called the homo sapien. And if that makes me a
jaded so and so, well so be it. Anyway, I’m done yammering for this
week. I’m getting tired of the sound of my own voice. And so, hopefully,
are you. Go away! Be gone with you! Out of my sight, curs!

Just be sure and get your sorry tails back here next week …

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