There’s a Catch-22 deal involved with bouncing, and I think it holds true for everyone who’s ever stood on a box or worked a door. On the one hand, a bouncer initially looks for work because he’s not making enough money working just one job. Something went wrong for him somewhere along the line. He didn’t get enough education, or he knocked up his girlfriend or incurred a debt, and now he has to supplement his income with hired thuggery. Fuck me sideways, but I know some of those feelings all too well – sans sonogram, of course. At least that I’m aware of, in any case.
So when you bounce, you’re working with people whose lives haven’t always gone exactly as planned. Mine sure as hell hasn’t. I’ve made more than my share of shitbag decisions over the years, all of which, when coupled with a particularly rueful glance at my bank statement back in 2003, eventually led me to look for work at “the club.”
Here’s the thing, though, and it’s where the Catch-22 comes into play: if it wasn’t for bouncing, I honestly don’t think I’d have written anything, ever. I wouldn’t have started a blog. I wouldn’t have written a book. I wouldn’t have done shit.
This has nothing to do with the subject matter, either. Yes, bouncing gave me something to write about, and yes, it’s something about which people seem to enjoy reading. That’s great. You wouldn’t believe how fucking happy I am that things have worked out like this. Subject matter isn’t what I’m getting at here, though. I’m talking about sharing an experience with a group of people whose aims are nearly identical to your own.
Believe it or not, “the club” is the most positive environment in which I’ve ever worked. This is because I’m surrounded by competitive people who are trying their best to get ahead in a place – New York, if you haven’t been paying attention - where getting ahead is the only thing that counts. You don’t take a second job doing the sort of shit we do unless you have some degree of belief in yourself and your future. If you don’t have hope that you can take control of your situation and make things better, you don’t put yourself through this nonsense.
Set aside all the bullshit you believe about bouncers for a while, okay? Since starting this blog three years ago, I’ve heard every theory under the sun, and they’re all a crock of shit. We become bouncers because we’re bullies. Because we’re criminals. We like to intimidate people. We think it’s a job that can get us laid. We like to beat up the helpless and the weak.
I don’t know about you, but I look for jobs based on how much money I can make. I’ve never enjoyed the financial freedom to take a job solely because it satisfies my innermost emotional needs. Mostly, I’m trying to pay my bills. I wasn’t sitting around living a life of leisure when I decided to make calls looking for work. I was sitting at my kitchen table, going over my bills, and coming to the realization that I wasn’t making enough money. And just so you know, I’ve gotten laid exponentially more as a “writer” than I ever have as a bouncer. Thanks for asking.
Taking this job was a proactive step. Instead of continuing to tread water three years ago, I decided that working more – and therefore getting paid more – would help make things a little easier. Instead of constantly pissing and moaning about my situation, I added twenty-plus hours onto my workweek and brought my finances back to square – and above, eventually – the “old school” way. This is not the strategy of a bully, a criminal or a sexual predator. It’s the strategy of a guy who believed in himself and his ability to better himself and create possibilities for the future by dint of a little bit of work and a lot of lost sleep.
I work with almost thirty such people on a nightly basis down at the club. We’re all in the same boat. We’re not there to engage in authoritarian fantasies using you as our unwitting victims. Most of us, anyway. We’re there because we have some fucking hope for something better. If you’re one of our customers, you’ll likely appreciate irony in all of this: that “something better” means hoping for something a hell of a lot better than having to deal with the likes of you.