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Five common city ‘pat down’ approaches

At a time when we are all worried for our safety and Nairobi has been compared to war-torn cities, we look to the security people, who are there to keep us safe.

The men and women working with the private security companies that we have all become familiar with.

These people touch us more than any other human on a daily basis. Because they are there for our security, and because they are just doing their jobs, it’s important to keep our sense of humour and patience when dealing with them.

I’ve realised that my way of doing that is by identifying their ‘pat down’ approaches. I have identified five:

The first one is the ‘you’re wasting my time’ approach: The guard knows you’re coming but does not make eye or physical contact. A quick glance at your belongings takes the place of a thorough search.

Second is the ‘you’re white’ approach: The guard does not see you as a threat and will not touch you or request to search your belongings. A small smile is considered appropriate and sufficient as a thorough search.

Third is the ‘I’ve got the power’ approach: Along with a non-welcoming scowl the guard gives you a quick up-and-down before telling you to stop. A thorough search of your person is undertaken with minimal niceties before your belongings are opened up and searched.

The fourth is the ‘I’m going to make this quick’ approach: This guard processes you like a printer processes an annual report. You go in fast, your body is frisked before you can say hello and your bag is whipped open with a deft (but gentle) hand.

Before you know it, you’re in the shopping mall and the person behind you has bumped into you, having just been processed himself.

The last one is the ‘I’m your buddy’ approach: This is the guard we all like, along with inappropriate jokes about ‘who got da bomb’, he shuffles you in after politely searching you and your belongings.