“Step over here for a minute, okay?” I asked, directing a familiar face to move off the line and walk with me to the opposite side of the door.
“I want to ask you something. You look like a pretty smart guy, so I want to get your advice on a little scenario I’m gonna give you.”
“Why me?” he asked, hesitating.
“Don’t worry, man. We’ll get to that. Just hear me out and you can ask all the questions you want when I’m done laying this shit out, okay?”
We stepped past the barricade and walked several paces to the left of the door.
“So,” I began, “I had a little problem here a few weeks ago, and I need you to put yourself in my shoes and see how you’d handle it.”
“You’re leaning against the side of the club, having a conversation with a couple of guys, when some drunk guy comes over, stands right next to you and starts talking…”
“Yo…” he interrupted.
“Yo, yourself,” I said. “Lemme finish. So this drunk guy steps right into your conversation, and all the sudden he doesn’t like something somebody says and he starts yelling, which is really kind of stupid because he doesn’t know these other guys from a hole in the wall, he has no fucking idea what the fuck they were talking about, and nobody invited him to come over and join in. You following me so far?”
“So what this guy does, is he walks over to the end of the sidewalk and starts yelling at you. Not the guy who said the thing he didn’t like, mind you, but you. He’s standing there, ten feet away from you, telling you he’s gonna kick your ass and bash your face in and making every stupid fucking threat in the book. And meanwhile, you’re just standing there wondering why the fuck this is going on because all you really wanted to do was get paid and go home, and you weren’t the one who pissed this asshole off in the first place. Does that sound fair to you?”
“No, dude,” I said. “You gotta wait. So the next thing that happens is the guy comes over and puts his hands on you, and before you know it you’ve got him down on the ground and you’re choking him, and it’s the most retarded fucking situation anyone could ever be in, but you’re in it and you have to fucking do something about it otherwise you’re gonna get hurt. Now remember, you didn’t have anything to do with this whole thing, you didn’t start it, and you only wanted to get your money and go home after eight hours of working some bullshit job that you don’t even like. Does that sound fair?”
“And now, three weeks later, you’re back at the door, working that same bullshit job that you don’t even like, and the guy that forced you into that situation that was so entirely fucking unnecessary comes up to you like nothing happened and wants to come in. Does that sound fair? Would you let him in if you were me? What would you do?”
“No,” I said. “Wait. Before you answer that question, I want you to remember that you’re putting yourself in my shoes here. If you don’t think about this from my perspective, we’re not gonna get anywhere, so that’s what you gotta do right now. Don’t rationalize, don’t apologize, and don’t try to act tough, ‘cause I’m not being hostile to you. I just want you to think about what you would do if you were me right now, and some guy who did that shit to you came up and asked you for something.”
“Yo, I come here all the time…”
“No! That has no bearing on the fucking subject! You didn’t listen to a goddamned word I said! I want to know if it’d be fair of me, after the way you acted that night, to tell you to go fuck yourself for putting me in that situation. Seriously, man. Why the fuck, in a million years, should I let you in?”
“Yo,” he replied, “I apologize. I was fucked up that night, and I didn’t mean to do that.”
“Okay, I appreciate your apology, but I’ll only accept it if you’ll do me the favor of acknowledging my point. Can you at least see what a bad fucking position you put me in that night, and how pointless that all was?”
“I get it, man. You’re right.”
“So no problems with you tonight?” I asked.