The following really happened though, unlike “Dragnet,” I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty. It took place at the Shores thirty-eight years ago this week. I wish I could say I was a teenager but I was much closer to 30 than 19. And lastly, I think the event reflects old Santa Monica and, frankly, I don’t think it could happen today. (Thankfully?)
As I’ve mentioned before, in 1975-76, in addition to being a tenant, I was also a $4 an hour security guard at the Shores while trying to write the great American novel. At best the Shores security staff was a rag-tag group and while I was perhaps among the least conscientious (busy writing) I was not the most rag-tag.
One guard was named Buzz, an older fellow with a goatee. He was so heavy that when he bent you could see his butt crack. (If that image upset you, I would offer to pick things up for Buzz so as not to see such a display.)
Another guard was Jerry, also older and thoroughly humorless. Surprise, surprise, Jerry didn’t care for me. An insomniac, he used the job to catch up on his sleeping. And we had a fourth guard, Roy, an alcoholic who used the job to catch up on his drinking. We were some group.
Clearly my least favorite though was Zahi Hosny an arrogant middle-aged Egyptian with a shaved head and pockmarked skin. (Not exactly a Calvin Klein model.) He insisted he be called “Sgt. Hosny” because apparently at a security guard job in the Marina he had been “promoted” to Sergeant and he thought that title carried with him.
Hosny even had an expensive leather jacket with Sergeant Stripes. (At least we didn’t have to salute.) He also referred to himself as “Chief of Security,” which shows you what kind of staff we were that a faux Sergeant was our boss.
I worked the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, which meant time for writing. Hosny worked the graveyard shift, which meant time for “entertaining” female residents. You see Hosny used the leasing office, and the lush leather couches, to “delight the ladies” as he put it. The idea was gross for a number of aforementioned reasons not the least of which was that Hosny was 5’3″ on a tall day.
I suspected Hosny’s extra-curricular activities because of two telltale clues. At around 10:30 p.m. each night at work I’d begin to get calls from women asking when Hosny was coming on duty. I thought it odd but went back to my writing. Then, slowly, Hosny started showing up earlier and earlier. He was definitely up to something.
As Chief of Security he “authorized” my going home early saying that he’d punch me out on the time clock. Naturally I’d rather be at home than in that dingy security office, so I took him up on his “kind” offer. (Hosny was many things, “kind” was not one of them.)
One night, however, I left my writing in the office. When I returned it was well after midnight and guess what? Hosny had changed into Hugh Hefner type silk pajamas and the leasing office was decked out like a cheap boudoir. On the table across from the leather couch was a huge bottle of scotch with two plastic glasses and candles. He even had a TV!
I was a bit shocked. (He was on duty in his freaking pajamas!) But Hosny was surprisingly nonchalant. He said he was just going to take a quick nap. Yeah, right one definitely needs candles to take a nap, not to mention the two glasses. But he was the boss so I retrieved my notepad and went home.
On the walk back it finally dawned on me that the phone calls from female tenants and Hosny sending me home early were connected. (Duh) A week later, after my shift, I decided to stake out the security office from a safe distance.
Sure enough after midnight, a female tenant, rather nervously entered the security office and trust me I’m quite sure it wasn’t to get a parking pass. And the next night another dropped in for a nocturnal rendezvous. Hosny had a harem!
Don’t ask why but I had to play a practical joke Hosny. (I wasn’t the best guard but at least I wore pants not pajamas!) Using the elevator phone, and in an old man’s voice, I reported a fire and quickly hid in the bushes.
As he thought of himself as a hero, I knew Hosny would investigate before calling the Fire Department.
And sure enough, moments later Hosny ran breathlessly and barefoot out of the security office with his leather jacket over his Hefner pajamas.
I thought the whole thing was a riot. That is, until my practical joke backfired big-time. But, dear readers I’ve run out of space so you’ll have to wait for Part Two of this sordid saga. Please stay tuned.