Oct 30, 2020 | LIFE | By Luke Bleckman | Photo by Barbara Bilic

Adel is a night security guard at West Edge, a student housing apartment complex. He’s originally from rural Arkansas. The interview was conducted in the apartment lobby at 11:45 p.m. and has been edited for length and clarity.

“A traumatic thing [that] happened in my life was when my mother died. That [was]very traumatic. That [was] initially how I got to Colorado. Arkansas, the grief, seeing people that did you dirty, doing death or something … you know like in death, you think people would embrace you. They didn’t do none of those things. I kinda feel like they was happy the queen was dead.

My nana who raised me — I was adopted — she basically was like what they call the glue to the family, and without her, there ain’t no glue no more. And I had an uncle, he was kinda like the glue to the family, Raymond Loveletter. He died a couple years before she died. After that, the family just really dissipated.

They was hustlers, so they, financially, was the backbone. They was the hard workers.

[My Nana] came to Colorado before, and this was a long time ago. I might’ve been seven, eight, or nine, something like that. I just remember when she came here first I whining and bawling because that was the first time that my Nana jumped on a plane and she left me with my birth mother.

[My Nana and Raymond] was the money people. Anytime anyone in [the] family had a problem, you needed somebody to help you with your kids ’cause you’re working in the city, trying to get yourself together, that’s what [my Nana] did; she took on everybody else’s responsibilities and helped them out.

I learned a lot of things through my Nana and my uncle. I can’t do exactly what they did ’cause a lot of times I found out through observing through their life [that] when you’re the person that always got money, that always can help, you eventually become the most hated person, too. If you the person in that position, you got something to say about something. If the people that’s borrowing your money or you’re helping them with your money, it’s like the person that sign the check. He could talk all this shit to you and get away with it, but that don’t mean you like him. So I seen a lot of unseen animosity.

[My family] consider me the favorite ’cause I was adopted and I was the last kid [my Nana] raised so I got a lot of attention that they didn’t really get.

I knew [my family] was abusing my Nana to some degree. They was isolating her, they were robbing her, spending her money and things like that, and she used to grieve to me about it. I used to want to do things about it for her. When I would say something to the family members that were doing those things, that’s where the resentment came, and the hate. They would always say things like ‘you’re her favorite’ and ‘she love you the most’ and I be like, I don’t know why y’all are saying that because she love everybody. So that was my burden: unsaid hate within my family.

My Nana, she had a lot of money. She had an accident two times with near death and they gave her half a million dollars type stuff. When she first got the money, I was happy ’cause it brought my family together. I moved back to the country (to my Grandma’s land) from the city and she blessed me and we was just trying to be living life. To me, [my family] was like anticipating her death to a certain degree. My grandma, she was very outspoken, she’d tell you how she feel. I don’t think [my family] could stomach her mouth. In my heart, I feel like you’re supposed to make a person’s life happy until they leave, because she had survived kidney cancer 15 years, [and] I feel like they made her life miserable before she died. They tried to keep people away that loved her and stuff like that.

I really won’t touch them baby mothers ’cause it’s a crazy situation. Yeah, they real crazy. When you grow up in Arkansas, [there’s] no support place. So a lot of things that you might not see as righteous, you have to go with the flow of things. Basically, my first two kids, I probably was 14 [when I] conceived them, probably they were birthed [when] I was 15. My parents had money, I was just a little kid and the girls were probably a year or two older than me. They basically chose to put the kids on other guys.

I used to come back from North Carolina and bring money for one of [my kids] ’cause I knew in my heart one of them was mine, but I had doubts about the other one, but I feel like both of them mine, but they got put on somebody else. Put it like that. And that was a lot of grief to me in my life ’cause you tell your family that you got these kids and they want to see them, and you got these girls that, whatever’s going on with them, they don’t wanna let you see your kids. They those type of parents

Kids walk through the hall yelling, Adel yells back

Ay, quiet it down please!

I came up here in January. My cousin was doing security and it was getting on his nerves. He shortly quit after he got me the job and that’s how I ended up getting a lot of full-time hours.

When I first start working at West Edge, it was like, ‘OK, working at West Edge,’ [you] see a lot of nice women, you see the kids and you like ‘OK’ and you seek [friendships] coming where I come from [and] coming where you come from. And after a while you like, it’s a hell of a job because you can’t really be friends with nobody. Even though you wanna be [a] ‘hey what’s up, how you doing’ nice guy, hold conversations, this and that, but the corporate part of it, they don’t want you to do that. They don’t want the security guard to be friends with the residents. I think, a guy like me, I used to talk all the time, and [the residents] start saying things like ‘why is the security guard so cool?’

You just have to reserve yourself, pull it back. I have to watch our relationship. We might wanna do music together — ’cause I do other things other than being a security guard — you just have to reserve that as long as you work at that location.

Life is lonely since I moved here. It took me a little minute to do my observation. You really just can’t trust anyone. No one’s genuine, it’s all superficial. What I have to understand [is that] even though I might enjoy certain conversation, intelligent conversation, the thing about that, I’m a security guard, is that most time, a lot of the times that kids do wanna be cool with [a security guard], it’s not the fact that they wanna be cool with him. It’s like a manipulation tactic. Sometime if a kid come talk to me too long, I have to look at that like maybe he’s trying to smokescreen something else that’s going on for his friends. What you’ll learn too, especially if you work security for college campus places, [residents] really don’t like you. They’re not finding you when you break up their parties.

To me, my biggest frustration is when the kids try to challenge me like I’m the management, like I made these rules, like ‘why this, why that, why this,’ and that irks me. When I first started working as a security guard, I’d talk to them. As long as they respect me, I respect them. But after I was in a certain situation when I was trying to shut down a party and you got more than one kid outside the door and you got kids that don’t even live in the room like ‘why’s this, why’s that’ and you be like, ‘if you live here, why you don’t talk to management about it, like you the one who signed the lease so you should know.’ That right there can start things ’cause they look at me like I’m being smart with them.

If you just started security you don’t understand and you think it’s just a cool job, you walk around, it’s not a hard job, and that’s what everybody think. But mentally, it’s like you a human, you a person, just like everybody else, they human so it’s just those nice points. Things that my mother taught me, I probably could talk to anybody, but I had to learn from my experiences, my first couple of months, that now it’s more like, I just come to work, I’m not trying to talk a lot, I’m not trying to have conversation with nobody. Basically, I know better than to make friends.

I think everybody in the world wanna feel accepted and part of something, and sometimes that might be our biggest mistakes in life. Individualism now is my biggest thing. In tune with nature, learning how to be, basically, lonely. If I pray or if I meditate, those are things I have to do by myself to be in tune with the creator. You can’t have friends and meditate. You can’t have friends and do the things like I do, like work out in the woods, hike, those things. In Colorado, you can find those things, but everybody’s just into what they’re into. And you have to learn to accept that.”

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