Doing a smattering of bouncing work in some new places – summer favors for friends in the business – has made me think about a few things I hadn’t really taken the time to consider in quite a while. In a while refers to the three-plus years I just spent as a member of a nightclub bouncing staff’s so-called “in” crowd. Sometimes, when you’re “in,” you tend to forget what it was like to be “out.”
Since I’ve been writing this blog, I have, without fail, stood up for bouncers at damned near every possible occasion. I’ve tried to let you see the “profession” through my eyes: as a second job taken by decent people for the purpose of making more money than we would by relying solely on our primary incomes.
I started bouncing strictly for the money. A little over four years ago, I needed more of it, so I returned to the business after a fairly long absence. As much as I’ve complained about everything since coming back, I don’t regret doing so because bouncing, if you will, has been very, very good to me. I’ve made some friends I’ll be keeping for life, socked away more than my share of shakedown cash, and learned a shitload about myself, and about the world, in the process.
As things in my nightclub life have started to shift recently, however, I’ve figured a few things out, and one particular thing I’ve figured out may surprise those of you who’ve been reading this site for a while. Here it is:
Some bouncers are assholes.
So, yeah, I said it. Some of us are assholes. Not every bouncer is a nice guy. I’m not a particularly nice guy to the customers, but I’m always, to a fault, a nice guy to my fellow bouncers. I don’t posture, I don’t walk around the club flexing, and I don’t put anyone on the staff through any sort of “test” in order to win my respect – which, when you consider what we’re actually at the nightclub for in the first place, is just about as meaningless as it gets. Too many people in this profession don’t understand this, and it’s a shame. It gives the rest of us – the ones who simply want to take home an envelope filled with cash at the end of a peaceful night – a bad name.
The problem with me is that I sometimes fail to realize how good I have things until it’s too late. Or, maybe I realize how good I have it, but I don’t realize just how good “good” really was until “good” is gone and I’m stuck with whatever’s left. I can introduce you to about two dozen people who’d happily tell you that this is the story of my life.
See, some guys have never done anything in their miserable motherfucking lives. They’ve never done shit and they’ve never been shit, so they hit up some guy at the gym for a few vials of God-knows-what, stick a needle in their ass for half a year, and then go out looking for problems because they know they’ve been nothings since the day they were born and they’re stuck with something stupid to prove. Something they should’ve proven when they had the chance, but didn’t. The hard part for me comes when these dicks become bouncers, because they’re the ones with whom I’d rather not work.
I’ve had it made all this time – without really knowing it, of course - because the people I’ve worked for have historically avoided hiring bouncers who fit this description. When a juicehead would come down to the club looking for a job, management’s wheels would immediately begin to turn. Instead of hiring him immediately because of his size, they would, thankfully, put some thought into the matter:
Now, let’s look at this rationally. This gentleman has injected himself with steroids for an extended period of time in order to make himself look like a freak. Why has he done this? What are the underlying reasons behind this choice of his? Is a person who’d do this to himself really the sort of bouncer with whom we’d like to work?
The answer to this, invariably, was a resounding no. We didn’t need complexes and syndromes on our staff. What we needed were people who could get along with each other, so that’s what we hired: good, solid guys you wouldn’t think twice about inviting over your house to watch the Super Bowl. Guys you’d go out drinking with. Guys who’d help you carry a sofabed up a flight of stairs or give you an extra ticket to a playoff game. Guys you’d risk your own health to protect because you sincerely didn’t want anything to happen to them.
What I’ve evidently failed to realize all this time is that not every establishment thinks along these lines. They don’t stop to consider whether a new guy “fits in,” and after a while, as the good people bail out, what you’re left with is a staff full of asswipes who’d rather fight each other than protect the club owner’s investment, which is the only reason they were hired in the first place.
I’ve been spoiled. I’m willing to admit that now. I’ve been spoiled by the quality of the crews on which I’ve worked, and this, essentially, has soured me on working for anyone other than the people who originally hired me.
Because some bouncers, much as it pains me to admit it, really are assholes.