Friday, November 03, 2006

Cloudy Skies Above (7/28/04)

I kind of don't remember this one the way it's written here, but it's possible I missed a few steps in the dialogue. I normally don't get "tough" with people until they take things a few steps past what apparently happened here. Also, apropos to nothing in this post, the drink is called a "Car Bomb." It's not called an "Irish Car Bomb." If you walk into an Irish bar and ask for an "Irish Car Bomb," they'll know you're a pretender. Thank you.

The vast majority of bouncers frankly couldn't care less how you behave in a club. Not personally, anyway. Usually, as I'm standing there on my platform watching the crowd, I'm thinking about everything but the sea of humanity in front of me. I'm working through financial scenarios in my head, planning the next day, and just generally pondering other stuff. Daydreaming, even. As far as I'm concerned, you people can do whatever the hell it is you want.

I don't own the club, and I have no financial or legal stake in it if the customers do the wrong thing. Sure, if I don't do anything about it, I'll lose my job, but that's not really a problem because there are a plethora of bouncing jobs to be had around here that will pay me exactly the same amount of money, and, if fired, I could secure another one before the weekend. My point is that there are no genuine personal feelings involved for most bouncers when shit goes down. Granted, there are some psychotic assholes who take the job way too seriously, but I'm decidedly not one of those.

So why do bouncers, myself included, become so seemingly indignant when situations arise? Well, speaking for myself, I generally keep my emotions separate from what I'm taking care of until things become personal. At what point do they become personal? When customers turn something into a challenge. Let me explain.

Bouncers, on the whole, tend, obviously, to be testosterone-fueled Type-A personality guys. As I've written previously, you have lots of cops, ex-military guys, fighters, and college athletes on this job. People who tend to live their lives by breaking things down into a series of personal challenges. I come at things from the perspective of someone who played football for nearly sixteen years. Ask any football player who has competed at a high level, and they'll tell you that a football game is, essentially, a fight. It's a challenge. When you're asked to execute a play during a game, there's someone out there whose very presence on the field is making a statement that they believe they can stop you from doing your job.

Bouncing involves the same concepts sometimes. Hell, most of the time. It happened to me last night at the Club, where things were painfully slow due to a torrential rainfall here in New York. The bouncing staff was cut in half because of the weather, and I was posted, of all places, behind the bar in the VIP room. The club was hosting a fashion show for a company who produces 'pasties.' More about that in a moment. The models and their managers were in the VIP room rehearsing for their turn on the stage, and my responsibility entailed staying behind the bar, making sure nobody touched any liquor after their open bar privileges were cut off at midnight.

Once midnight came, the VIP people, despite knowing their free ride had come to an end, continued coming up for drinks, only to be told, by me, that the bar had been closed. One European gentleman, who appeared to be in charge of the group, approached and asked me for a Grey Goose and tonic. I apologized and told him that all drinks would now have to be ordered at one of the bars downstairs. The following conversation ensued:

"But I'll pay for it."

"I really can't, man. The bar is closed. My boss gave the order ten minutes ago."

"Come on, just one drink. I'm the president of the company."

"Listen, there's nothing I can do. If I serve any more drinks, I'll get fired, and that's not happening."

And this is where the 'personal challenge' concept came into play.

"Do you know how much money I spent up here? Up here, I'm your boss."

Oh, shit, dude. You poked the Rottweiler.

"Oh yeah? Why don't you come around the bar, then. If you can get through me, you can have your fucking drink. Better yet, how about I come out there and throw your fat ass over the balcony? How 'bout that?"

"I'm going to talk to Phil about you."

"Go ahead, you fucking pussy. Be my guest."

Of course, Phil found this all amusing, and, in fact, upbraided me for not following through on my threat and depriving him of some much deserved entertainment value on such a gloomy, unrewarding night. Following my eventful stint behind the bar, I was posted in front of the doors to the VIP area, as the fashion show was playing itself out on stage. The VIP room was now closed, and Phil told me that I was not, under any circumstances, to permit anyone to enter the building.

A few minutes after Phil left me alone with my responsibilities, one of the models, accompanied by a 'manager,' asked me if she could go back into the VIP room to change into another outfit. I told her that she was not permitted to re-enter the room, but that I would call Phil and ask him if I could make an exception. This process, unimpeded, would have taken approximately ten seconds, but these two jackasses chose to prolong it by arguing with me before I even raised Phil on the radio.

"Hey, how about this? How about I don't even call Phil, and the two of you don't go in there at all?"

This managed to quiet them down, and Phil gave his permission for the indignant model to go upstairs and change. I told the 'manager' to take a walk.

After she changed, the model marched back downstairs on a mission. With an angry look on her face, she pranced in front of me, opened up her blouse, and flashed me. Oh God, how shocking. Trouble was, she wasn't looking where she was going, and strutted face first into a post. The impact knocked her off balance, and with her stiletto heels, she wasn't able to recover, falling on her ass with a dull thud. She looked up, awaiting my reaction.

"Damn, you sure showed me, honey."