First person: Security with a smile

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Tommie Means has been a security bailiff for the 9th Judicial District Court for three years.

Tommie Means’ mother wanted a daughter as her second child. When Means was born, his mother kept the name she had intended for a daughter, including the spelling. Means, 53, said he wanted to change it to “Tommy” several times, but never did because his mother asked him not to.

Shop talk: I’ve been a security bailiff for the 9th Judicial District Court for almost three years. Before that, I was a transport officer for the Curry County Detention Center, a flight attendant, and an administrator for the juvenile detention center. In 1993, I retired from the Air Force out of Cannon after 20 years. I was a paralegal and did intelligence work in Desert Storm.

Busy body: My job is rewarding and challenging. I don’t call it a job. I call it an opportunity. My job encompasses a lot. I assist a judge, screen visitors, help visitors in any way I can, perform security checks around the court area of the building.

At your service: If you put customer service in everything you do, it diffuses a lot. If you treat people like people, it helps. Be direct, see what they need and when their business is taken care of they are happier. I enjoy my job because I love people. It’s easy for me to do that.

The cooler: I’m always called in to take care of people who are angry. When I worked on the airlines, there were a lot of angry people. My boss would call me, “Tommie I need you to take care of this,” if there was a canceled flight or whatever and people were upset. We’d be there a few minutes later laughing and making jokes. I do celebrity voices such as Urkel or Judith Bunker to make them laugh. It’s not to laugh at people. But when they come in here to the court, they’ve had difficulties in their lives and they’re under stress and strain. It helps to take the pressure off and it breaks the ice a lot.

My queen: My wife and I have been married for 31 years. We just celebrated our anniversary on Aug. 20. We’re from the same home town of Cleveland, Ohio. We weren’t sweethearts but we knew each other. Our moms still live there eight blocks away from each other.

Walking the dog: We got our first dog, a little Chihuahua. We saved it from the pound. We named it Genesis because we’ve never had a pet before. I love to walk Genesis.

Take to the sky: If I could have any superpower I would be like Superman, one of my heroes. I would fly. You can get places in a hurry and always be at someone’s defense.