Confessions of the World’s Worst Bouncer: Essay

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Keeping drunks from mauling each other can be hard work

“If you can’t keep order, keep clean.”

This was the only piece of training I received during my first day as a bouncer. I quickly found out why. Bouncing is an art, like macramé or air drumming.

And I didn’t know the first thing about bouncing. I did, however, know my way around a mop bucket.

do not start with me

Bouncing was supposed to be a summer job, a fiscal fling that I had no intention of keeping once school started up in the fall. And just like I could be unromantic and callous, I could also be meek and a pushover.

I had never punched anyone before. And I couldn’t intimidate a guinea pig. I was destined to become the world’s worst bouncer.

Thankfully my co-bouncers were good at their jobs. They could take verbal abuse without batting an eye. And, with hands like pie plates, they could also really whale on a guy if they wanted to.

I admired them as much as I feared them.

One of the more onerous tasks of the job was to make sure people didn’t do drugs on the toilets. And as scary as we were supposed to be, we weren’t spooky enough to keep sketchbags from haunting the shitter stalls.

Eventually I came up with the brilliant, passive aggressive solution of not cleaning the bathrooms. “Let them smell ass with their coke” became a workplace mantra. Unfortunately it all came to an end when the manager got pissy when the cans started to overflow.

I also had to chimp gear in for the touring bands that would play in the club. While the romance of working in the music industry was more or less dead to me, this was mostly amusing since most of the indie-type bands that played there were embarrassed to have someone hauling their gear. But other bands – I can think of one that wrote some song about a gal named “Eileen” – were total couche tards, and yelled at me as I lugged their vintage guitars while they followed close behind.

But at least I didn’t have to pay to see their shitty set.

My job became easier as the summer went on, particularly after I discovered that I could serve myself secret screwdrivers. Bouncers were given free non-boozy drinks while on shift, and the bartenders let us serve ourselves. One day, while squeezing myself an orange juice from the bar gun, I realized that the ‘O’ and the ‘V’ could be produced at the same time. I gave my big thumbs a kiss and proceeded to rock out for the rest of the evening while everyone else paid retail for drinks.

But most of the time bouncing was horrifying.

Occasionally I would have to stop morons from pummeling each other. Some times I would have to wrestle alcohol away from frat boys with depressingly low IQs. No one listened to me or took me seriously – why should they? I was the world’s worst bouncer. Whereas my co-workers crushed non-compliant jerks quickly and efficiently, I crumpled easily and was sensitive to bathroom stall graffiti.

The only thing I would ever throw out of that bar was the contents of the pail under the men’s room sink.

On what would ultimately be my last shift, the manager sorely underestimated the attendance of the night’s show. And given the particular style of shitty bar rock the band was playing, he also underestimated what kind of shitty drunks would be showing up. Tellingly, I was the only bouncer on staff.

Within the first ten seconds of the band launching into their set the dance floor was immediately covered in barf and broken glass.

“Do something!” the manager screamed at me.

Taking a slow breath, I sipped on my sly juice and stepped forward to restore order. I swept up the shards of glass and then kicked the vomit under a table. I repeated this routine at least ten more times throughout the evening. It was a hell, but no one got beat up. No one had their thumbs broken. No one got knackered in the junk. And no one got their skull beaten like a tambourine.

Which leads me to believe that maybe I wasn’t that bad of a bouncer after all.

-Photo borrowed from Flickr user “bijoubaby” – Creative Commons.