Women who redefine rules. Set benchmarks and leave them behind. Fight life struggles with their chins up. Women-mothers and women-pioneers. Those who open a new life chapter without ever looking back. In our new series #eraofselfmadewomen, we celebrate the brave, exhilarating, unstoppable women who dare to chase their dreams. One life journey at a time, sit back and learn the real lessons of their lives.
I’m Tania Webb, the Chief of Security with 19 years of work experience and a happily married mom to two of my own kids and five step-kids whom I adopted after their mother had passed away. I keep saying that my life is pretty boring because I didn’t get to travel around a lot or do a lot of other fun things, you know. I have goals that I want to achieve and things that I want to do, but because of some situations that had happened, I had to take a back seat to some of my professional and personal plans to make sure that all my kids are healthy, happy and get the right education to achieve their dreams, and I would not have it any other way.
My job, on the other hand, is full of events and people, so I never get time to be bored. And if someone or something stresses me out (which happens quite often because I interact with so many people every day), I just tell myself “push through it, Tania, tomorrow it will be just another story to tell”. You won’t believe how many stories I have, probably enough for a bestselling book.
Favorite life quote: Treat others the way you want to be treated. In other words, karma’s a b$tch. Do you want to edit that out?
Unpredictable is the perfect word to describe it. One day, it’s peaceful and quiet, and the other day all hell breaks loose, and it can get really hectic. I’m a low-key type of a person and I try to keep all my dramas to myself; but as the Chief of Security, I have to deal with hundreds of different attitudes at a time in between the board of directors, property management, providers, my staff, and tenants. Sometimes, I feel like I'm the bartender. Imagine everyone coming into your bar, drinking, telling you all their problems. Same here, only no Margarita's. Dozens of people stop by to share their troubles with me, and I always try my best to help them. I don’t want to say it’s tiring because I genuinely love looking out for people and I have a helper personality by nature, but it can get a little exhausting, yes. By 7-8pm I’m ready to pass out.
My life hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns. My mother showed me the door when I was 14, and I’d been living with my cousin for many years. I was working at a cheap gambling place to support myself. That time, security industry was just up and rising, so I applied for a security job to earn some extra income. I would go to my first job and work during the afternoon, and then change into my uniform and go off to my second security job at midnight. I was single with no kids, and the security company kept giving me hours after hours in different shifts that were all paid better than my other job, so I quit the former and turned to security full-time. Sometimes, I’d work two shifts back-to-back because I finally got my own place and I needed the cash. I’ve never planned on making it a career, and I certainly wasn’t expecting doing it 20 years later; but it’s always been paying my bills, so I have no complaints. I've build myself up from ground zero, and this job naturally became a part of my life and a way to give a better life to my children.
It is a traditionally male profession, but there are women in the security business too, more than you’d expect. It is true that more people prefer to see men in security because they think men are tough and will protect them better. In reality, most of the job training doesn’t even involve combat (unless it’s a construction site) and is more about on-site training around the building and people skills. You do need to have the grit to confront people when things go out of control and a clear head to react fast and smart in unsafe situations.
A few weeks ago, I saw someone breaking in in the building and went to ask him to leave. When he refused, and I threatened to call the police, he turned back to his bag and took out a giant axe! I managed to stay calm and conveyed the police that he had a weapon and was violent all while legging out of his reach. That was a real life fast and furious! Or the other time, when a very tall buff man broke into the building’s backyard and was tearing cameras off the walls. The cameras are very heavy, and they are mounted into the walls with strong hardware and wired in with the building electric system. But this person, he just tore them off like they were toys! When I confronted him, he took one of them and threw right at me. For a moment, I thought that was it. Luckily, I managed to escape and call the police. Do you see what I mean? Even if you are not a very tough person, it’s all about how quick you react.
It’s better now, but in the beginning, I was struggling. All my years in security until recently, I had mostly been on night schedule, which meant I didn’t get to see my kids enough. I would see them for two hours in the morning to wake them up, get them dressed for school, make breakfast for them and after that I wouldn’t see them until the very next morning. When they would come home, I’d gone to work already, and by the time I would get off at midnight, they had already slept. So, just those two hours every day for years. It was heartbreaking.
Then 3 months after my son was born, my husband’s ex-wife passed away. I had to step in and take on that extra responsibility of raising her kids whom we adopted, so I ended up going back to work earlier as we needed extra income. I had to take care of these kids and nurture them and help them with their grieving while working the night shift and nursing my little son. Do you know how it feels to pump in the backroom and then go out and manage hundreds of people with their issues and attitudes? To say that I was stressed out is an understatement. There were moments when I’d just want to throw in the towel and give up. It was my husband, my rock and supporter, who kept us together as a family, and we just pushed through these challenges together. It’s been 7 years since then, and even though it’s been a bumpy road, we are a happy family. The step-kids respect me as a mother figure, they come to me with their problems, they talk to me, and one of my proudest moments is that no matter how much I boss them around, even when they have attitude, no one has ever said “you are not our mom” or other hurtful things that step-kids may say. That tells me that I’m doing something right.
These last couple of years after I got the promotion and switched to the morning shift, my work-life balance is a lot healthier. I get to see my kids more, both in the morning and when I get off work. I pick them up after school and we spend time together as a family. Back then, it was a nightmare.
To be the Chief of Security, you need to have a thick skin. Dealing with dozens of people every single day means that there is a good chance that at least one of them will go off at you for absolutely no reason. That can be something that has nothing to do with you; maybe they are just having a bad day and they want to take that frustration out on someone. Security person is an easy target because we are bound by the company rules and cannot respond back. Next day, the same person will probably stop by and apologize and try to make up for their behavior. You just have to learn to not take it personally because it’s not about you.
Back in the days, I couldn’t care less. I would leave all arguments at work and go back home, smiling and happy. But recently, it’s been more of a struggle for me. Some issues are slowly taking a toll on me and begin to hurt me on a personal level. Sometimes, I feel so stressed out that it’s hard to just brush it off. All I want is to go home and have a positive evening with my family. My kids shouldn’t know why I’m upset, and I don’t want them to deal with it. Thank god for my husband who lends me his ear and lets me vent and rant about everything that upsets me. He’s a great listener who takes in all my frustration while we are driving home. Once my rant is over, I can get back to being a loving and positive person I truly am. One time though, I was so frustrated that I didn’t notice that my daughter was in the car too, and I went right off about one particularly annoying person. Next day, she called me during her school lunch break to ask me if I was alright and if that lady was troubling me again because she could come and check up on her for me. I love her so much!
Who gets that? I’m jealous! My me-time will be my quiet hour at work or after 7pm at home. Well no, my best me-time is Saturday and Sunday mornings. Even though I don’t work on the weekends, I still get up very early, around 5am. Everyone is upstairs sleeping. I go downstairs, turn on my music, have a nice cup of coffee and relax or workout on a treadmill. The windows are wide open to let the fresh air and sunlight in. I get all of that quiet morning goodness to myself. That’s my me-time, my favorite time of the week. Oh, and I love getting my hair and nails done with some color and sparkles. That's my me-time too!
A few years ago, on July 4th, it was a holiday and I was working the morning shift. I got a call from one of the home owners asking me to come up to her house and I said sure! It was very quiet, and I had nothing to stop me. I took my keys and went straight to her condo. So, I stand there knocking on her door and she’s not opening, and I’m wondering what is going on. Her condo is right next to the stairs, and I notice that the door is open with a newspaper holding the lock. As soon as I push the door, she takes a gun and shoots herself in the head. I freaked the hell out! I had walked in on several people dead in their condos before, sleeping in their beds, and I had been threatened physically and emotionally, but that was my absolutely most disturbing incident in 19 years of work. I could still see the gun smoking, and her brain slipping down the walls. Try working at night time all by yourself and having this on your mind! To add up to an already distressing story, this incident happened on the 13th floor, and this is the only building I have ever worked in (and I’ve worked in a lot of high-rise buildings) that even has a 13th floor!
People often ask me how I manage to always stay so positive and keep a smile on my face despite all the weird, stressful, or hands down terrifying moments like that. And I say because you cannot let the negative stuff affect you! After that person killed herself, the management offered me time off to deal with the mental trauma. I didn’t take it. I was back to my job the very next day. I could not make myself step a foot on the 13th floor for that entire year, but I wouldn’t just sit at home and soak in those memories of her dead body, playing the recording of that day in my head. The more I worked, the more I talked to people about unrelated issues, did the day-to-day stuff, filled that mental space with something else to do, to think, and to talk about, the better I felt. That’s why I was awarded the employee of the month and the employee of the year.
I had a lot of incidents happen to me in my life, but I just got to keep pushing, keep moving on, and never give up. This same principle worked in my personal life too. Before my husband, I had been in a very abusive relationship. I thought I’d never be the same person again and I wouldn’t get my life back. But after meeting my husband, I didn’t let that emotional baggage hold me back. And that’s what keep pushing means to me. It may take a little time, but you really need to do something different to get yourself out of that rut. If you don’t do it right away, you’ll get stuck in it forever. It is easier to talk about these moments because I’ve moved on and I let go of them. Now they are stories that I get to keep and tell people about. They don’t hurt me anymore.
I usually only carry a small purse because everything work-related stays in my office. My zipper purse holds my keys, a perfume sample, a lip gloss, my phone and some cards. If someone steals it, they’d be disappointed because I don't even carry cash with me. As long as I got my cellphone, I'm ready for anything!
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