read various chapters of this autobiography by going to the Individual Stories menu to the right.

Sunday, June 20, 1993

Security guard at an Arkansas fireworks stand

In the summers of 1992 and 1993 I worked as security guard for a large fireworks stand on the outskirts of North Little Rock Arkansas. The location of fireworks stands in that region are influenced by law -Pulaski County (Little Rock and North Little Rock) do not allow fireworks sales. So the fireworks stands set up all along the extreme periphery of Pulaski County along rural roads busy with truck stops, convenience stores and trailer parks.

The job would last exactly two weeks, and my work hours were from 9PM to 9AM. I didn't have to dress in any kind of security guard clothes. I could dress any way I wanted. The company that ran these operations was actually really cool, and all the staff was too. They had an odd but brilliant hiring policy: only currently enrolled college students with a high grade point average.

The manager of this particular stand was much younger than me, his home was in Memphis, and he was going to some elite college in Mississippi. He was in an aeronautics degree program that was the only private non-military college program that prepped students to pilot big jets. His goal was to pilot for Federal Express, which is headquartered in Memphis. His mother was Buddhist. He was non-chalant about a complex, diverse world. Add all that to his school's -and his- dedication to antebellum ideals of chivalry and integrity.

A southern gentleman aeronautics major who lived in a Buddhist home.
Inside of fireworks stand.

My job was to watch the place all night while the manager slept. See the photo to the right with tables loaded with all kinds of fireworks? That is exactly like the tables I guarded. The tent had tarp walls that came down to create a more "we are closed" look every night, but one could still easily crawl under the tarp and get as many fireworks as one could carry. My job was to stop that from occurring.

My first few minutes at the job introduced me to the wonderful little neighborhood I had come to work and serve in. A woman around fifty years old is running down the Jacksonville Highway, crying and mumbling things, in the correct lane for her direction of travel. At the gravel entrance to our business she turns, like a car, and proceeds into the parking lot.

...right up to me.

She says in a pitch perfect crazy-lady voice "I cain't go fast enough!" Then she turns herself around and pulls out of our parking lot back onto the Jacksonville Highway, continuing south, in the correct lane and under the speed limit.

Then there was the family in a black 1966 Ford Fairlane. We spotted all of them shoving fireworks into  their clothes then taking them to their car and dumping them, then coming back for more. There were 3 adults (or big teens) and a few kids that looked less than 10 years old. We called the sheriff's office and simply watched them as they shoplifted. We made our awareness of them obvious, we were standing right behind their car watching the whole thing. They figured out cops must be coming so they decided to make their getaway immediately. They jumped in and....their car wouldn't start. At all. Two of the adults and all the kids got out and pushed the car onto the Jacksonville Highway.

The cops came and we described the car and the fact that it had a family pushing it.

One morning around 9AM I got to be an action oriented crime fighter. I was on one side of the fireworks stand sitting in a lawn chair, slightly dozing (I'm truly a light sleeper), and heard something. A man was in the tent, with a garbage bag raking a bunch of fireworks into the bag. He bolted under the tent wall to the outside. I ran out, yelled to get the manager's attention.

The thief was gone. The land around there is southern delta, flat and lots of clearing for gravel parking lots, dirt roads, back yards. I figured which direction he would head in (the other was lots of truck stop type businesses). I walked back behind the fireworks stand looking, and he was walking in kind of a tip-toe sneakiness in someone's backyard about a 100 feet away. I saw him and he saw me. He bolted towards the highway. I did too.

In those days my hobby was weightlifting and running. From the looks of this guy, he didn't have those hobbies.

As promised about the action oriented crime fighting: he began running down the middle of the highway and I was 100 feet behind him, and gaining. I eventually caught up to him, just as I did he dropped the bag and diverted towards a church that had patrons coming in for services.

I grabbed the bag and headed back to the stand. I got all kinds of cred with the manager after that.

What if he had had a gun? I didn't think about that then. Dumb luck on my part.

I didn't see one awesome crime but heard about it. Across the street was a multi-story office building for postal logistics/management types. White collar jobs in the postal service, no mail processing. They had a somewhat troubled itinerant man they paid to mow the lawn. They were unhappy with his service and asked him to stop coming there. He came back with a gun. In a lot of the United States a rough kind of man with a gun versus white collar workers, and the white collar folks are likely going to be scared and at most simply flee if given the chance. Not in rural Arkansas. The office workers slammed him with filing cabinets and stabbed him multiple times with a letter opener. My manager saw him run out of the building bleeding and collapsed in a ditch along the highway. Sheriff's deputies took him away.

My favorite crime was one Sunday morning a man was stealing snacks at the truck stop up the road, deputies had come to apprehend him and the shoplifter had escaped the store and drove towards our stand. I saw him speed by on our gravel parking lot that also served as a  road to a big swampy area behind our fireworks stand. It was full of trees, brush and a pond that actually had an alligator in it (the alligator does nothing in this story, sorry).

He was in a white Lincoln Continental, and as he got to the end of the road in the swampy area he got out and ran into the bushes and trees. Sheriff's police cars were soon there too. They got out and started looking for the shoplifter (all this over stolen corn chips and frozen burritos).

Next thing I know the deputy's car is flying by and out on the highway. The deputy had left his door open and the keys in his police car. The burrito stealer had graduated to stealing cop cars.

In closing I should mention during those years  I had a main job as teacher's aid at the Arkansas School for the Blind. Like most public schools, we didn't work during the summer, so I had the time to pick up this oddball job.

That is my story of the Arkansas fireworks stand.

The author of this blog also has two books available on Amazon. Athena Techne uses some of the autobiographical content of this blog and adds a philosophical perspective utilizing the ancient Greek god Athena.

Athena Techne :: Page

Autistic Crow Computer is a fiction set in Seattle, about an autistic boy and two crows. The book was written for young autistic readers, although reviews by non-autistics have been positive.

Autistic Crow Computer :: Page