My idle observations while Christmas shopping at the Nuevocenter Mall in Montevideo, Uruguay:
Uruguay is a very peaceful, non-crime-ridden country! My take is that the people themselves, don’t have the ingredients within them for crime. Looking at them, you just know this instinctively. They’re happy, family-oriented, kind-natured folks. And that is just that!
BUT, here in this peaceful country are the most well-guarded stores, banks and malls in the entire world! They bristle with uniformed and business-suited Police and FBI, CIA-types, who are visibly doing their job as if El Presidente were currently shopping here. I mean, they are everywhere! The boys in blue; the suits with headsets and darting eyes. They walk, they stand, they circulate. Pleasant. Hyper-alert. Never distracted. Never distracting. While the rest of us slouch about, shopping or slurping cappuccinos.
It’s a wonder to behold these true professionals at the top of their game, hour after hour, scoping the patently-innocent, on the off-chance that there’s a terrorist sneaking in behind the kids. There are so very many of these Security Forces. Private ones at every store entrance into the Mall itself, often lucky enough to perch on stools and not required to wear the bullet-proof vests that the bank guards do.
And exactly what is it that the FBI-like suits are radioing to each other about? How can there be that much to say at every moment?
I love to watch their unflagging professionalism from my McCafe seat in the Mall’s center aisle. Their faces all have a very on-task and on-target look; like a dog who has just caught a scent. And their eyes dart from side to side, sweeping, in the effective way they’ve been trained to do.
How long can the human psyche keep this up without reward? How long can they ignore their inner logic?
“It’s peaceful in here! Nothing’s going to happen because no one could possibly penetrate this deep through all my buddies!”
I’m sure their coaches have always stressed the “You snooze; we all lose!” philosophy and every guard must squelch such thoughts as that. But this is hard to do when all the shoppers are your friends, neighbors and countrymen. Uruguayans are the sweetest-natured people in the world. They just don’t do wrack & ruin!
I’m guessing here, but it’s very likely that little boys grow up planning to be security workers in this Law & Order society. Likewise, employers put security high on their list and hire professionals to stand guard… at every entrance and throughout the store. Thus, the heavy concentrations of all this Human Preventative Medicine.
The lucky ones are in air-conditioning. Others must stand in the sun with reflective vests, or worse, bullet-proof ones. They man the entries to everything. Some at the outer door and then more at the inner door. Those guards seem more natural and not as furtively busy as the patrolling, suspicious types. They greet you and even deign to open the door…. as well as shoot you down!
I feel 100% sorry for every last one of them, except that they have jobs and it’s a job with high status. But that must come with flat feet and bad backs and such everlasting boredom. Even for those free to circulate the Mall. It’s fancy-dancy, but it’s full of very-repetitive clothing shops and not a whole lot more. Some household items, shoes and candy, but the whole experience is pretty forgettable. I know they’re working and supposedly not considering such details, and not everybody shuts down in there after just an hour, like I always do.
I still can’t help dabbling in the human psychology of it all. What are the brains of such hired hands like? I guess it’s been this way through all the ages. Soldiers stand watch from walls and sentry huts and guards man prison barricades, putting in their shift, expecting something every single second. They never get a pleasant or interesting environment or a way to get off their feet. No one worries about their psyches.
Possibly, they even relish their power. Wearing uniforms. Carrying guns. And we civilians are lucky to have them standing guard. It’s what Police Work is; just not usually so visible. Officers sit all day in squad cars, waiting for their radio to send them off somewhere. Ninety percent of their time is spent waiting; relying on the fact that their very presence might discourage the 10% possibility that some crook might try something, anyway.
Maybe this is why Uruguay has such a strong international reputation for being such a very safe country to be in!