by Lynn Kim Do

Lessons from Beyonce & Jay-Z's Security Guard

"Every morning, wake up and look at the bigger picture. If something looks a little weird, pay a bit more attention. Also, always carry two pens."
- Tom, Beyonce and Jay-Z Security Guard 

I followed a line of people in front of me down the aisles of seats, slowly getting filled up, tracing the numbers with my eyes until it landed to my number. I stopped an aisle before mine and spotted my seat. A middle seat (insert side-eye emoji and a deep sigh). I took a deep breath in, and quickly placed my bags overhead and imagined getting into an elaborate screaming match with a mouthy passenger that tested my patience. I sat in the middle, between two empty seats. The pure anticipation of who would be the ones to sandwich me for several hours in the air was more nerve-wrecking than the reality of it.

A very tall, heavy set man with quite an intimidating stature and, yet, very kind light blue eyes took a seat to the left of me. He instantly commented on the strawberry tart that I was stuffing my face with, crumbs landing clumsily on my lap. It didn't help that while I was running through the airport, the tart had disassembled from a beautifully Instagram worthy pastry to something a baby got to before his milk. Our conversation naturally led to some of our favorite travels. We compared the places we've been to and suggested some places we should head to next. We talked about traveling until we began discussing other common topics, like our jobs. As a true New Yorker, I listed about fifty million things I was involved in. When I asked him the same question, his answer was much more simple but nothing short of epic.

Turns out he does security for the most well known and popular couple on the face of this planet. Cue the hashtag, the applause, the bowing, the tears, #relationshipgoals, the great Beyonce and Jay Z. Tom has been a part of their security team for the past three years. At one point we were talking about how his own wife's birthday and his employer's birthday were several days apart. Tom pulled out Jay Z's passport to make sure that he got his empire's birthday right. Yeah, no big deal.

But, instead of asking him about the couple (because he's probably tired of talking about them and I'm sure I can find everything I need to know with a quick wiki read), I picked his brain on something I'm very ignorant on -- self-defense. I'm the type of person that never looks both ways before crossing the street. My headphones are usually glued to my ears. My eyes are glued to the sky. My head is somewhere in the clouds. And god forbid, if I ever find myself in a uncomfortable predicament, I can't even imagine my next move let alone how to defend myself. So as a woman, what should I carry with me? I expected him to tell me mace, a pocket knife, or even a gun. No, nah, nope. Instead, his choice of weapon is something I use to write my fake number when someone sloppy approaches me, something I am always looking for in the office, something I use to sign a hefty check with each month (ugh, rent). He told me that the best thing to do is to carry two pens. And to always aim for the face, specifically the eye or the neck. Actually imagining what damage I could do with two pens in each of my hands made me cringe. But as I thought about it more, I realized that in a situation where my life is threatened and survival is within my own fingertips, then yes, I'm going to stab the hell out of this predator's face with two ball point pens. Tom also told me to fight like a cat. Don't ever stop moving when someone grabs you. Just completely freak out - flail your arms, kick, spit, punch, bite, anything and everything. "Trust no one," he stressed and then closed this topics by giving one very poetic advice -- "Every morning, wake up and look at the bigger picture. If something looks a little weird, pay a bit more attention." Many hours later, many more words, thoughts, ideas on politics, family, and love were exchanged. I bid farewell to this huge teddy bear slash deadly killer at John F Kennedy airport and never saw him again.

Photos by Thaya