Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to the Future

This post was originally published on June 13, 2004. It was the first one I ever wrote, and I thought it would be interesting to republish it.

In my latest Kramdenesque employment scheme, I'm going to be a bouncer. Lest you scoff, I feel compelled to point out that I've done it before, many, many times. I did a lot of bouncing in college, and even more in the years that followed. I'm rather good at it, too.

The biggest problem with working security in a bar, when you first start out, is figuring out whom you can trust once something starts. I once worked the door in this quasi-club place -- essentially a big bar with a small dance floor -- that attracted a cityish, guidoish sort of crowd. One Wednesday night, the security staff consisted of me, Joe and Bob-O.

Joe, the de facto 'head bouncer' whose primary (and perhaps only) bouncer weapon was his booming, authoritative voice, was recovering from sciatic nerve surgery on his back, and was particularly useless that night. Bob-O, despite being an extremely nice guy, was simply a horrible bouncer. If something broke out, Bob would lurk around the fringes of the action without actually getting involved. Afterward, he'd tell us all about all the people he'd tossed out during the action, and we all knew it was complete, unadulterated horseshit.

That night, something did break out near the back door. I ran back and locked up one of the combatants from behind, while Joe, bad back and all, was engaged in a wrestling match with the other. I had my guy in an absolute vice grip, and was hauling him toward the back door so I could kick it open, push him out, and go help Joe. Bob-O, a good thirty seconds late, runs right past Joe, grabs the guy I've already subdued by the arm, and yells, "I got him!"

Thanks, Bob. Nice work.

There's another type of bouncer around whom you need to tread lightly: The guy who's obsessed with carrying out his duties to the letter, to the point of causing needless hostilities with customers. Dave, another otherwise terrific guy, was a case in point.

This bar had a really choice deal for the drunks on Saturday nights. At the very end of the night, they'd set out a greasy breakfast buffet, consisting of scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns, served on plastic plates with plastic utensils. The only rule we enforced was that you couldn't leave the bar with a plate. This, obviously, was because management didn't want a parking lot full of garbage on Sunday morning.

Most of us enforced the breakfast rule loosely, because by 3:45 AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning, we simply didn't give a shit anymore. If I saw someone headed for the door with a plate, I'd say something, but that was where it ended. Dave, on the other hand, inexplicably made it his mission in life to make sure that NOT ONE SINGLE PLATE OR UTENSIL made it out of the bar. He'd use extreme force if necessary, often violently slapping plates out of people's drunken hands before they made it out the door, infuriating scads of intoxicated guidos whom Dave had placed in jeopardy of being late to their roadside appointments with the breathalyzer.

Ironically, Dave is now a physician.