Thursday, May 18, 2006

John has a problem

As burned out on the club business as I've become over the past year, I've found that breaches of trust still carry enough shock value to stop me in my tracks. This bouncing shit jades the living crap out of you, but I've maintained enough innocence with regard to human nature that it still surprises me to see duplicitous people caught in the act of being duplicitous.

Now, if you're at all familiar with my writings, the part of this that should surprise you is that I'm referring to customer duplicity here. I mean, I'm the guy who'll tell you, over and over again, to "never trust the customers," and that everyone -- everyone -- who walks through the doors of a nightclub is full of shit. Even you, dear reader. You're so full of crap when you walk past me that I can see the steaming, stinking feces spurting out your ears. The act may not be for my benefit specifically, but you'll try it out on someone before the night's through, and you know damned well the product you're putting on display bears little resemblance to what your mark is likely to get once he or she decides to make the purchase.

That's cool, though, because the target of your charade is just as full of shit as you are. It's simply the nature of things in a place where most of the people you meet are congregating for only two reasons: sex and drugs. Nothing groundbreaking here, I'm afraid.

What does come as a surprise, however, is the fact that I'm always taken aback when said duplicity is directed at me by one of the club's regulars. When people with whom I've been friendly -- or at least as friendly as our respective stations will allow in customer- employee interactions -- turn on me in some way. They'll be as sweet as pie to me, month after month, and then something happens. They get in a fight, you come on the scene to do your job, and the next thing you know, the guy who's been shaking your hand and asking after your family every night is telling you he's coming back to shoot you. And you haven't even touched him.

What I should do, of course, is chalk everything up to the ninety-nine percent rule I'm always writing about. The one that says only about one percent of the male population actually knows what to do in a fight. If you're one of the ones who can't fight -- and there's no shame in that, mind you -- you're likely to get mad when it's your turn to go. You'll go apeshit, spending the first moments of the confrontation thinking your anger will make a difference.

It won't, but that's something you'll have to learn the hard way if you choose violence as an acceptable course of action. Rage wastes too much energy, as does adrenaline. And if a fight lasts longer than a minute, it's not always the most skilled combatant who'll win. It's the guy who can keep his hands up and breathe. "Professionals" go into fights in a state of clinical detachment that keeps their emotions in check. If you're enraged, you'll eventually do something stupid, and you're finished. Even if you don't, your emotions will force you to shoot your load -- your energy, or wind, if you will -- within the first minute or so, and then you're fucked.

If I get hit, I get pissed, but it's only momentary, and it sure as hell doesn't compel me to continue acting like a raging douchebag twenty minutes after the fight's over. Especially when people I know are involved, and they're telling me they're trying to help, which is exactly what happened last Saturday.

Despite all the pissing and moaning I do on this blog, I'm actually what you might call a "nice guy" bouncer. The term isn't exactly the most creative way to describe my approach, but it's what I was called by a bouncer friend who marvelled at stories of how I've gone out of my way to make things right for customers at times. I want everyone's night to have a happy ending. I don't like seeing people get hurt, and I'm certainly not some asshole whose idea of fun is to take gratuitous potshots at customers during fights. All I've ever wanted is to do my job -- which, by definition, entails doing the right thing -- and go home.

Sure, I'm an asshole. I'm an asshole most of the time. But I'm not a malicious asshole. If something happens, and I tell you to take a walk out back so we can talk about it, that's what we're going to do. We're going to talk. I'm not going to slam you in the back of the head with a set of brass knuckles and steal your wallet. If your girlfriend has a bloody nose, and I tell you to "sit down and shut the fuck up," it probably means I'm leaving the situation to go get some napkins, water and ice. See what a fucking hero I am?

Obviously, I'm about a million miles from perfect, and that's been well documented on these pages. I've done my share of dirty shit to people, but those occasions have been dictated by circumstance. I go into Manhattan looking for a paycheck, not problems, and if you're a regular where I work, and you've seen me in action, you're well aware of this fact.

Which is why a certain customer, when he tries to get into the club tomorrow night, is going to be turned away. And he'll be turned away on Friday and Saturday as well. He'll be told to go elsewhere because, instead of perceiving me as a "friendly" face during a situation -- where I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was there to help him because I knew he wasn't at fault -- he shoved me. And when he was done shoving me, he threatened me. And when he was done threatening me, and was given a few minutes to regain his composure, he didn't apologize.

And when he comes up the line tomorrow night, with his tan and his tight shirt and reptilian smile, he'll be told to leave. And if he speaks up, I'll not be holding my tongue this time around. And if his hands go up again, he'll find out how lucky he was last week.

Backup plan or no, I'm still me.