Security Guard Syndrome

Written By: The Lowdown - Sep• 30•00

The Lowdown research term has been very busy over the past few months, researching a new phenomenon that has hit Lusaka, or as our research has subsequently shown, has hit the whole of Zambia – SGS.

Just what are the symptoms of SGS? Our research has shown that this affliction only manifests itself in certain sectors of the population and affects only their behaviour during working hours. Readers will definitely be familiar with them and all would have met at least one person who they will recognise as suffering from this syndrome:

  • The compulsion to wait until a driver has parked his or her vehicle, got out of it, locked it and started walking away from it before the victim tells the driver that the vehicle is parked in a no parking zone. The driver should be a minimum of five metres away from the vehicle and should already have placed the car keys in a handbag or pocket;
  • The ability to see clear signs saying ‘No Parking’ which non-sufferers are not able to see. It also appears that these signs are mobile and change position from day to day or even from hour to hour;
  • The need, when a vehicle pulls up outside a gate which the sufferer is supposed to open, to walk to the vehicle and ask the occupant if he wishes to enter the gate, even though it is quite clear that the gate should be opened so that the vehicle can proceed;
  • The necessity to return to the guardhouse to fetch the log book in which details of vehicles and people entering the premises are recorded. SGS sufferers find it impossible to approach the vehicle with the book in hand;
  • An addiction to open right-hand side gates rather than gates on the left. Occasionally they are able to overcome this addiction and open the gate on the left, but this is only if the vehicle has parked in front of the gate on the right. Our research has suggested that they obtain pleasure from watching vehicles being reversed and repositioned;
  • When gates are locked, the sufferer is unable to carry the key with him. This is so as to necessitate a walk to fetch the said key;

After extensive interviews with randomly selected members of the public, we have also found that this syndrome has been around for quite some time, but it has only now been named – Security Guard Syndrome or as it is more commonly referred to by its acronym, SGS (and you thought this was a review of Societe Generale de Surveillance).

Victims are mostly males, although females can also be affected, and the symptoms only become apparent when they reach an age at which they can enter employment, and then only if their job title is that of ‘Security Guard’ or something similar. The symptoms are particularly visible when they don a dark coloured uniform, which is usually black or navy blue, and most times than not, has epaulettes. This uniform is often accompanied by a peaked hat and heavy duty boots, which seem to intensify the symptoms.

There is no danger of SGS spreading to other sectors of the population, although it has been found to be highly contagious when entering the guarding sector of the economy. However, even if one has not contracted the disease, one is severely affected by it, on a daily basis. The effects on the general populace when in the presence of an SGS victim are raised blood pressure and the urge to verbally abuse the victim (which if not controlled can mutate into an urge to physically abuse him). As with most illnesses, there is a cost to the economy of the country and this cost is the number of hours lost every day whilst the general public observe the SGS sufferer first hand.

SGS has not yet reached epidemic proportions in Zambia, but if the necessary treatment is not administered soon, it could well get out of hand. This treatment comprises two distinct medications. In the first case, the person who should administer this treatment should be the employers of those testing positive for SGS. The medication has been around for some time and is marketed under the name of Training . It is not difficult or time-consuming to administer and victims usually start to respond after the first dose. The number of doses will depend on the severity of the disease and may have to be administered a number of times, often after a period of a few months and in some cases up to a year later, as relapses are not uncommon. Training is also available as a vaccination to prevent infection of those who have not yet contracted the disease, but who may be exposed to it. After the initial treatment by the employer, the sufferer can undertake his own treatment. This is an ongoing treatment which must be taken daily and is known as Mindshift. This is available at no cost to the sufferer. Both forms of treatment have been found to be highly successful and if administered correctly, it is expected that SGS will disappear completely.

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