Security Guard’s California Dream Becomes Minimum Wage Struggle


{Photos all by Angie Fiedler Sutton}

Note: this article was also published on Annenberg Radio News and on Neon Tommy.

This story is part of Neon Tommy’s series, Wage in L.A., which explores how Angelenos survive on the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour, and how they feel about their jobs.

In this series we hear from the people who make Los Angeles run – the night shift workers, the minimum wage employees, and the undocumented laborers.

Coming to Los Angeles for your dreams is not a new story. But for one man, working the night security job for a car impound lot, there’s a bit of a twist. He didn’t come here for him: he came here for his wife. Angie Fiedler Sutton’s husband talks about why he came to Los Angeles and ended up working the night shift as a security guard in northeast Los Angeles.


For Rich Sutton, the search for a job became a story in itself. While he currently works the night shift as a security guard for a car impound lot in northeast L.A., it’s not what he wants to do. Working security was what he had done at his last job, and he had hoped that a new city would yield better job opportunities.

His search for a job was stressful – especially since he couldn’t find something right away. Money got tight, and the stress of the situation strained our relationship.

Night shift security work is the type of job where Sutton hopes nothing happens. He is by himself, which means that if anything happens to him, there’s not much that can be done. As the days turned into months, and the stress increased, he started relating to the concept of those cars, rusting away.

In the end, we came here for the adventure, and because we knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And Rich? He says his purpose is to be with me. His dream will stay the same, whether we stay in L.A. or not.

Update (as of May 31, 2014): The non-narrated version has now been broadcast on KCRW’s UnFictional. (Want to hear just my section? Check it out over on Soundcloud.)

Update (as of July 18, 2014): Interested in buying this (or the longer piece) for your own radio station? It’s available on PRX for licensing.

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