Bodyguard George Tzelios. Much of what he does involves planning -- researching the areas his "protectee" plans to go, and anticipating in advance where in those environments potential dangers lie. "If it gets to that point where you have to go for a firearm," says George, "You've definitely failed, somewhere along the line, in your planning."
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
KAI RYSSDAL: This is Marketplace Money from American Public Media. I'm Kai Ryssdal. It can be, sad to say, a dangerous world out there. But if you've got the cash you can make it a little less so by hiring yourself some protection. Sound like something out of an action movie? Well, not necessarily, on this week's A Day in the Work Life our regular look at how folks trade their time for money we play it safe with a bodyguard.
GEORGE TZELIOS: I spend a lot of time standing right here, right by my car, right -- you know usually here in beautiful New York City or outside of one of the nicer hotels in the world. My name is George Tzelios. I am an executive protection specialist, a logistics specialist, a personal assistant, a driver. Whoever's signing the checks is telling me what my job title is that day. This is definitely a boring job. The movies have definitely created a stereotype on what this job is. I do not dress in camouflage or in tactical ninja outfits to go to work. You know, the martial arts training I've had, I did that way before I got into this business and I stayed with martial arts training because I like it not because I think it's something that I really, really need. I'm probably at my desk on my computer more than most people are.
The gist of this job is avoid confrontation, avoid an attack. When I first started this job, if I can get into a little bit of a story here. I think there was a wedding out in a public place and there was a pretty big guy there looking to disrupt the wedding. The guy who hired me, a former Marine buddy of mine, walked up to him and I was expecting a confrontation. And all he did was slip the guy a $50 bill and ask him to leave. The guy said thank you, took the $50 and walked away. And I said maybe there's something more to this job than being the big guy standing next to the protectee. My responsibilities are to get my protectee, or my principal, through the day and protect them from intended harm or any unintentional harm or embarrassment. Yes, embarrassment, or your client does not want to see himself on the news falling down the stairs or, you know, saying something he shouldn't be saying, thinking all the microphones are off of the guy that you're protecting. My average yearly salary, I'd been working for corporate America up until recently. I've made from $125,000 to $150,000 a year. There are, you know, per diems depending on who you're working for, meals, travel, company car. There are definitely some nice perks to go with this job.
I'm going to say what I spend my money on just for me. I probably wind up shopping more than your average male does. You know, I'm wearing suits 18 hours a day, you know 5 days a week, there's a lot of wear and tear on my, on my clothes you know, no matter how good the quality you buy. I used to work for this very wealthy woman here in New York, I can't mention her name. I was actually interviewed by her dog. She put her dog down on the floor and if the dog came to me and allowed me to pick him up I was hired. So the dog came to me, I picked it up and there began an odyssey that I won't forget. When she wanted to fire people she used to bring them up to her penthouse apartment and she wouldn't tell them you're fired. She would turn to me and tell me to throw them off the roof.
RYSSDAL: A Day in the Work Life was reported by Sally Herships and just in case you're wondering, no George didn't actually throw anybody off a roof.