Monday, July 31, 2006

Working it out

You'll have to bear with me for the duration of this post, because I'm wondering about something and I need to figure a few things out. What I'm trying to do here is work my way through a problem. As of right now -- first paragraph, third sentence -- I'm stumped. So what I want to do -- since I'm so much better with the written word than I am in real life -- is apply a solid measure of my patented "flawless logic" to this thing that's been gnawing at me lately. Bear with me like I'm asking, and I'll try and take this somewhere by the end.

First, the conversation (verbatim):

"Someone pulls that shit," says Ray, "and everything goes out the window. You gotta lump 'em up."

"That bad?" I ask. "They fucked that guy up pretty seriously."

"Hey, listen. People gotta know they can't get away with that shit here. They gotta know we ain't targets. Some guy comes in here and does somethin' like that, and we don't do nothin', that shit gets around."

"Gets around with who? People talk about this shit? Who talks about this shit? Why would anyone talk about this shit? Why would people assign any degree of importance to what goes on in a club?" Yes, I said that. I said "degree of importance" to another bouncer. Sometimes we talk like that.

"You think people don't know?" he asks. "Look what happened with that motherfucker. You see him come anywhere near me? He don't do shit when I'm around, 'cause he knows not to. Guys like that, they ask around, an' they know who not to fuck with."

Now if I understand this correctly, people talk about the club outside the club. Like, when the club's not open, they get on the phone and talk to each other about the club, and about what goes on at the club. If Ray is to be believed, they talk about specific bouncers. They discuss which bouncers are to be avoided, and which are pussies or willing to look the other way. They analyze incidents that happen at the club, and bouncer reaction to these incidents, and they grade us accordingly -- both individually and as a staff.

If I'm reading things right, they do this because it's their intention to come to the club to start problems. They know they're going to be doing something unacceptable before they ever set foot in the club. Days before, if they're talking about us amongst themselves.

"Yo, don' fuck aroun' at Opus 22, yo. They gon' bus' a cap, yo!"

I wonder if my name -- or one of my names, or some unflattering physical description -- comes up during any of these conversations. I wonder if my perception of myself, and my bouncing skills, matches what they've said about me. I'd like to think I've gained their respect over the years. I'm lenient, I don't "bust balls," and I don't "put the squeeze" on regulars at the door. When things break out, however, I'm a missile. If you're deserving, I'll readily take a shot at you, and I couldn't give two shits if you're looking or not. People have seen this, so when I talk, they tend to listen.

I'm not a dick, but I'm not the one you want to fuck around with. I wonder if they say that. Likely as not, they don't. Who knows? I know for sure my name doesn't come up on any list of potential "marks," because the only customer who has ever gotten over on me was female, and the only reason she got over was because she was beautiful. She sat on my lap, stuck her cleavage in my face and scratched the back of my head in order to gain access to a bathroom. If she'd called her slew of hot friends and told them to try the same move, I wouldn't have protested, and they'd have beaten my system as well. Everybody wins.

Still, the fact that people talk about this shit at all is a mystery to me. Clubs are supposedly in business so people can come in and drink, dance, meet people and have a fun night out with their friends. I can't remember ever calling "Clint" and suggesting we go to a particular spot because the bouncers wouldn't fuck with us. This is probably because when we did go out, we were more concerned with getting drunk and getting laid than with wreaking havoc on the security staff.

"Guys like that, they ask around..."

Ask around about what? And why? People actually do research to find out which bouncers to avoid when looking to cause problems? From this, it can be inferred that these people know beforehand that they'll be starting some sort of shit, so let's look at this logically.

Problems at nightclubs are caused by three things, and three things only: women, money and stupidity. People start fights over women because they're drunk, or because the person who committed the transgression they're railing against is drunk. Stupidity is also caused primarily by drunkenness, which leaves money as the lone major remaining cause which can't be attributed to impairment.

Disputes over money -- at least, theoretically, the ones stemming from "malice aforethought" -- involve drugs. They have to. If you're fucked up and arguing with a bartender because you're too drunk to know the price of a drink, that's one thing, but if you have something planned before you even set foot in the club, and that something is financially motivated -- else, why would you act out? -- it has to involve drugs. For me to think otherwise would be naive, much as I'd like to think I'm working in a relatively "clean" environment -- "clean," because as bouncers, we're perpetually, and futilely, trying to avoid the unavoidable, by order of management.

So what happens, I think, is that people who want to "move product" do their research. Nightclubs are a perfect place to engage in the trade, and it's good business to find out beforehand where you can and can't fuck around. It makes sense to me, and it's the way I'd handle things if I were a drug dealer. Or an addict.

There is something that trumps all this, however, and that's the propensity -- in any statistical sampling -- for a segment of any given population to suffer from psychological problems. This can't be discounted, especially since nightclubs have a tendency attract the mentally ill by the truckload. Maybe it's the flashing lights or the lasers. Or perhaps it's the music, which I've heard Dante had commissioned as the soundtrack to the inner ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

I know for a fact that there are people who come to nightclubs to start fights. There are people in clubs who run to fights with the sole intention of sucker-punching someone. There are people who come to nightclubs to slip things in womens' drinks and rape them. These people are insane, but as is the case with drug dealers, it's good business practice for them to plan ahead. What good is acting on your psychosis if you can't at least get away with it?

So what we've learned here, together, is that people who research the bouncing staffs of bars and nightclubs are either in the business of selling drugs, or they're crazy. I've never "asked around" about bouncers, because I'm neither a drug dealer, a violent loon, nor a rapist. If I sold drugs, assaulted people indiscriminately, or was looking to commit rape, I would likely construct a detailed plan before engaging in these activities. This plan would include "asking around," because I'd want to see my appointed task through without being robbed, beaten or arrested.

Now I understand. Thank you for your patience.