Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Every job comes with a set of rules. Your job, which is probably a much better job than my job -- at least my part-time job -- has rules. When we go to work, we follow these rules because we don't want to get fired. We abide by them because they're usually not that hard to follow, and because we're on somebody else's payroll. This means that someone else is setting up the framework by which our behavior is to be judged. They judge our behavior because they need to decide whether to continue paying us. In my house, you play by my rules. In your house I'll gladly play by your rules, provided they don't involve any homosexuality, latent or otherwise, because I simply don't swing that way.

In any event, the club has rules. Bouncers are hired to enforce these rules. Most of the rules governing the nightclub business pertain to the protection of someone's investment. They're designed to prevent physical damage to the club and to protect the ownership from running afoul of the law. This makes perfect sense to me. If I owned a club, I wouldn't want people damaging anything, I wouldn't want to get arrested and I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. I would therefore hire bouncers and explain to them, very clearly, what I'd need them to do.

What I'm trying to say here is that I understand my job. I understand it very well. I know why I'm there, and I unfortunately still have this nasty little integrity streak going that compels me to actually try. Some bouncers don't have this in them, but most do. Most understand the concept of a "day's work for a day's pay," and they'll try to give a club owner his money's worth. I do this. When I involve myself in bouncing situations, I'm always mindful of why I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing. There's a certain amount of peer pressure involved in responding to any radio call, but as I've gained experience I've developed the ability to discern the bigger picture -- the protection of the investment -- and I've learned to measure potential courses of action accordingly on the fly. This is an important skill.

There's no ego involved anymore for me. There are no power trips. It's just bouncing -- pure, unadulterated bouncing. If I think someone's doing something that places the club -- or the health of my fellow bouncers -- at risk, I'll take it seriously enough to step in. If something doesn't meet this criteria, I'm capable of looking the other way. This doesn't necessarily mean I condone what's going on, but some things simply aren't worth getting involved if the stakes aren't high enough to matter.

Guidos are not known for their ability to hold their liquor. They don't understand the concept of bringing a night to its graceful conclusion. They consume and consume and consume, then throw themselves out there for the world to nurse. They drink to a state of absolute helplessness. This is why things happen to them. This is why virtually every story on this site involves drunken Guido stupidity, and why, in virtually all of the stories you'll read, some silly Guido ends up getting injured or humiliated. It's because Guidos have no bloody idea how to drink. It's because they think their well-being is everyone else's responsibility but their own. It's because being a Guido is simply wrong.

A large part of being a Guido -- and of being confused and wrong in New York City -- is vomiting. Guidos and their women love to vomit all over town. Walk down West 28th Street any night of the week and you'll see Guidos, or their women, or both, bent over and retching. Guidos aggressively promote the frequent release of bodily fluids, whether through sweating on dance floors, ejaculating in bathroom stalls, bleeding on sidewalks, or vomiting wherever and whenever they see fit. This is one of the many reasons nobody likes them.

This is where the aforementioned rules come into play. When Guidos vomit in the club, bouncers are there to help them. We escort the ailing Guido to the nearest exit. We clear a path for him so he can make it outside for the fresh air vomiting Guidos desperately need. We can identify with the Guido in question because we've all been in his position at one time or another in our lives, and we try to make it as easy as possible for him to make it outside, since outside is where people should be when they're vomiting. I don't know about you, but I'd rather go outside and puke on the sidewalk than be stuck in some nasty mens room stall in a nightclub, especially when it's three in the morning and the best move I could possibly make would be to start heading home.

What happened was, a Guido started throwing up while waiting in line for the bathroom. I was inside the club at the time, trying to be a cool guy. I often come inside late at night and make my rounds, working the room. I move from bouncer to bouncer, dropping non sequiturs and pointing out stupid-looking people that I know will make that particular bouncer laugh. When you're a bouncer and you've been standing on a box for the better part of six hours, it's a nice thing when another bouncer comes over and makes you laugh for a little while. That's what I try to do because I'm the most magnanimous of bouncers, being the "Rob the Bouncer" character and all. They don't know it yet, but I'm trying to sell them books.

So, we take this Guido and walk him to the back door. His girlfriend sees us doing this and runs over to intervene. I explain what's happening, and she understands, but finds fault with our methods. This happens all the time in every line of work. Even yours. The customers think they make the rules. They'll walk up to you and explain how things are going to be. The way they tell you things should be is never the way things actually are, but that doesn't stop them from becoming irrational and engaging in histrionics. As most people know, I am not a big fan of the histrionics.

"So where are you taking him?"

"I'm taking him out the back door," I said, "so we can walk around to the front and get his coat."

"Why can't you just walk through the club?"

"Because he's throwing up all over the place, and I can't have him doing that on the floor or on the other customers."

"But it's fucking cold outside!"

"I know," I said. "I've been standing outside all night."

"But you have a coat on and he doesn't!"

"Yes, and we're going to get his coat right now. Does he have a coat check ticket?"

"He's sick!" she shouted in a thick Long Island drawl that matched my own. "He's sick and you're putting him out in the cold?"

"I'm going with him."

"This is how you treat someone who's sick? You throw him out in the cold? I should spit on you!"

"I wouldn't," I said.

"Oh, what? You're gonna hit me?"

"You're damned fucking right I will. You spit at me and I'll break every bone in your fucking face. I don't give a fuck who you are."

"Fuck you!" she screamed. Kevin grabbed her and held her back. I left the sick Guido at the back door and took two steps toward her with my index finger extended.

"Let me tell you something, honey. There's nobody back here except us, so I'd watch my fucking mouth if I were you."

This is what people are like.