By Jesse Drake
Samantha "Sam" Lankford knows a thing or two about keeping the peace.
As newly-appointed lead service coordinator in UIT's Network and Communications Infrastructure, she's on the phone with internal voice customers – fixing, calming, keeping a cool head. At home, she's mom of three, and dog wrangler of two. And on any given weekend, Lankford earns her swagger as a security guard at Garage on Beck and Whiskey Street – at the door checking IDs, or floating inside to ensure everyone's safety.
"I like people-watching," she said, laughing.
Seasonally, Lankford also provides security for private events, like Park City Live during the Sundance Film Festival.
It's unfortunate, she said, that the more confrontational aspects of the job dissuade good candidates – particularly women.
"There aren't a lot of females working in the security business. I know quite a few personally, but generally, they're few and far between," she said. "A lot of women don't feel like they can get into it. They think that it has to be physical, but it's not like that all the time."
Physical encounters with unruly patrons happen – "Ideally, you don't touch anyone, but if things get volatile, you have to restrain them for the safety of other people," she said – but psychology plays a bigger role. Lankford's easy-going nature helps de-escalate otherwise heated situations.
"There are some things you need to know about situation-handling," she said. "You learn to talk to people in a certain way, calm them down to a point they trust you."
The best part of the job? "It's not really a technical job, it's my social time," she said. "I've met some of the coolest people, and made some of my best friends at the bar – a lot in the [security] industry, too."
One of those security professionals is her husband, Ian, who has since changed careers. Together, they raise three kids – 17-year-old Hunter, 11-year-old Madysen, and 6-month-old Aryah – plus rescue dogs Bailey the Pit-mix and Buster the German Shepherd.
Somewhere in her daily grind, Lankford also makes time to visit the many close-knit neighbors around her Rose Park home, where she's lived since she was 8.
While her immediate and extended families continue to grow, Lankford's life has also been marked by major personal losses. In 2010, she lost her mother to cancer. In 2016, her stepmother died of leukemia, followed shortly by her father, who she said "died of a broken heart."
"Being a caretaker is hard," she said.
Caretakers come in all forms. Not long after losing her mom, Lankford ran into a former classmate turned tattoo artist/owner of Empire Ink. Though never a fan of needles, she accepted the offer of a free tattoo. That led to more – 41 to date – a process of scarring and healing, both of the skin and of the heart.
Lankford dubs one entire sleeve of tattoos her "family tree" – dedicating several to her mom.
"Tattoos are a way for me to honor the people in my life," she said.
As wellsprings of inspiration go, it doesn't appear that a lack of friends and family is anything Lankford has to worry about.