Apparently, I'm taking requests now. Thanks for reminding of this one, Josh, and thanks for the kind words. This one originally appeared in August 2005.
I'm an authority figure, whether you people like it or not. A stupid, pointless authority figure, in an embarrassingly meaningless job situated directly in the middle of a repulsive environment that contributes absolutely nothing to society, but an authority figure nonetheless. And like anyone in any position of authority, there are rules I've been entrusted to enforce, and I'm perpetually at risk of losing my job if I don't give due diligence to their administration.
Sitting in the airport bar last weekend, my flight delayed, I found, oddly enough, the inspiration for this post when a woman indignantly insisted she had the right to walk around the airport holding a full, open glass of scotch. Reasoning that she was, after all, a 'good' person -- as opposed to a 'bad' -- who obviously intended no malice in her proposed sojourn across the terminal, our inebriated potential passenger couldn't comprehend why she wasn't permitted to traipse out of the bar, into the airport proper, libation in hand.
"Excuse me, Miss?" called the bartender. "You can't leave the bar with that drink."
"Because it's against the law."
"But I'm just going over there to check the flight board!"
The law is the law, and a bartender, of all people, isn't granted the authority to interpret the law based upon an individual customer's perceived intent. Neither am I, as a bouncer. Sure, some rules are downright silly, but I'm still required to enforce them, otherwise I'll quickly be out of a job, and, as I've said here repeatedly, I'm not going to do that for you. Yes, you appear to be a decent person. You're well dressed, well spoken and polite. In all likelihood, you're telling me the truth about your intentions, but please, do me a favor: Don't fucking ask. Don't ask me to trust you, to vouch for you, or to permit my employment situation to depend upon the veracity of your words in any way, shape or form.
"My girlfriend doesn't have her ID, but she's twenty five."
"She can't come in."
"Because she needs to have a valid ID to come in."
"But she's twenty five!"
"Listen. The rule is, everyone needs ID to enter the club. She doesn't have ID, therefore she can't come in. Case closed."
"But she's twenty five!"
Yes, I know. The law doesn't apply to you, because, after all, you're you. It's okay to drive a car without a license if you intend to obey the posted speed limit. Then again, it's perfectly acceptable to get drunk and speed if you're in control of the car, right? Or to come into the club wearing a hat and sneakers because you "came all the way from the Bronx."
"I can't accept this ID. It's expired."
"But it's my ID!"
"Oh, in that case, come right in!"
Are you fucking stupid? I didn't mean that. Sarcasm and facetiousness are evidently lost in translation at the front door of nightclubs. No, an expired driver's license isn't going to get you admitted. I couldn't give a flying fuck if it's "really you," or if your "wallet was stolen yesterday." Rules are rules, and we've all got to abide by them. Even you, dear Guido. Honestly, do you think I really care whether you get in or not? If it were up to me, you could all just come right the fuck in, burn the place to the ground, strangle all the bartenders and steal their cash, and then go home. You think I have an emotional investment in the place? Please.
"Yo, could I come back in now?"
"No. You were in a fight, and you're out for tonight."
"But why can't I come back in?"
"Because the rule is if you get in a fight, you're out, no questions asked. You got into a fight, so you're gone."
"But I ain't gonna get in no mo' fights! Could I come back in?"
I intend to mount my soapbox for a bit here, using people's asinine behavior at the club as a metaphor for how I'm assuming they live their miserable little lives:
Guido, get your house in order. If you want to be honored in the way you're always demanding, to be looked at as a figure of colossal importance, you need to strive for a higher level of self-sufficiency. Get your shit together. Don't rely on the goodwill of others -- and especially not the kindness of strangers -- to get the things you need or want. You don't have a driver's license, right? Got warrants out? Take care of them. Had a DWI conviction? Forfeit your eight year old license and go get a valid New York State ID card. They only cost about ten bucks. Don't come up to me and ask me to stake my job on trusting your good intentions, especially when your deficiencies are so glaringly indicative of your status as a scumbag.
Where do you work, Guido? At the warehouse? Are you in a position of trust there? Do you handle cash? Can I come down to your job and start asking you for shit that could get you fired if your boss found out? Would you let me do that? No? You don't know me from a fuckin' hole in the wall? Exactly.
And do me a favor: Save the righteous indignation for someone who cares. Acting like you're mad at me when I won't immediately accommodate you is, at least for me, the most obvious tipoff that you're completely full of shit. I'm incredulous to believe that any responsible -- or irresponsible, for that matter -- adult could possibly be unaware that his driver's license has expired, but I'd be more inclined to buy your version of events if you could at least pretend you didn't know, as opposed to acting like I'm the asshole for doing my job the way my employers have instructed me to do it.
But, as everyone knows, the best defense is a good offense, and when it comes to Guidos, even the most innocuous request, when denied, has the potential, if not the likelihood, of leading to a sidewalk argument of epic proportions. Obviously, the louder they shout at me, the better their chances of getting me to acquiesce, or so, I suppose, they've been led to believe.
"Why, this is absurd! I want to speak to a manager!"
"He's going to tell you the same thing, ma'am," said the bartender. "It's against the law to leave the bar with your drink."
"Well, what do you think I'm going to do with it?!?"
Can I not read my fucking newspaper in peace?
"Holy crap, lady," I said, my irritation intensifying rapidly as the two argued over my shoulder. "You can't walk around the airport with an open glass of booze. Leave the damned drink here and we'll all sit and watch it 'til you get back."
"You people just lost a customer."
"Big loss," muttered the bartender.
"Rules are rules," I added. "Hey, man," I said to the bartender. "Do you ever read blogs?"