The night began differently than usual. Come sundown, instead of doing my usual setup routine (tapping kegs, stocking bottles, sneaking drinks of said kegs and bottles), I was not inside the bar as usual, but in front of it. That’s right. I was the bouncer. When I first got hired, apparently someone decided that my 5’10” 170-pound frame was perfect to handle the security of the whole bar, and they trained me on that as well as working behind the bar. While this was a bad idea from my managers, especially considering my predilection for drinking on the job, it’s a great deal for me since I can make money doing the easiest thing in the world – just standing there.
Truth be told, I usually hate being a bouncer. It’s ten hours of either being bored off my ass checking IDs, or listening to some drunk asshole bitch incomprehensibly about why I’m not letting him in the bar. If you think dealing with your blacked out friends is obnoxious, imagine trying to do that to someone you don’t even know, and who is actively calling you names. 90% of the altercations I deal with fall into three categories: drunk girls crying about drama, college kids trying to convince me that the license they’re holding is totally theirs, and angry assholes who want to fight me because they can’t remember why they got kicked out.
The first two are relatively easy to tame with several key sentences; repeated nonstop until the information seeps into even the most intoxicated brain. For a crying drunk girl, I just smile, agree with whatever she’s saying, and ask her to call her friends to come get her.
Example: “He definitely sounds like a fucking asshole and she’s TOTALLY a downgrade from you. Can you call your friends again? They must be worried and looking for you!”
When dealing with a kid with a fake ID, I just overload them with information and explanations until they get too confused to argue. I also like to use my favorite line – “My manager won’t let me.”
Example: “I know it’s a real ID, but it’s six months expired, and you have a different eye color. Oh, it’s because you lost your wallet last week? Damn, that’s been going around. Unfortunately, it’s still not a valid ID, and it doesn’t explain your eyes being green instead of brown. I know it’s dark, that’s why I have this flashlight I’m using to accurately tell what color your eyes are. I know, I just let those girls in without checking IDs, and it’s because they work here. Believe me, if I could sneak you in, I would, but my manager would have my job.
As annoying as those types of conversations are, they’re nothing compared to the rambling, illogical, anger of someone who literally cannot remember an event that happened six minutes ago. No matter what you do or how convincing you are, you will never be able to make a blackout drunk understand that they fell asleep at the bar, and that is why they are now on the curb. Of course, that’s what I had to deal with that night. My coworker walked a stumbling man out to the curb, and with the gleeful tone of someone who is passing along his problem, told me that he had fallen asleep on the bar and was banned from coming back in. He then relayed that same information to the man, who slumped over and turned to walk away, seemingly understanding of the situation.
That didn’t last. Literally 15 seconds after he was told he was kicked out, the man attempted to hand me his ID and get into the bar. When I repeated that he was kicked out, he summoned the memory of a goldfish, looked at me through squinted eyes, and tried to push past me, and slurred,
“I’ve never been to this piece of shit bar in my life! You’re not going to fucking stop me!”
Granted, this guy probably had to 6 inches and 60 pounds on me, but I had the advantage of not being 90% full of liquor. I put a firm should in his chest, rocked him back a few steps, and repeated that he wasn’t going inside, and if he caused more trouble, I would call the cops. This prompted another nugget of information from the intoxicated fellow.
“Gonna call the cops?! I am a cop. I’m an off-duty police officer, and you’re not letting me in. I should arrest you!”
Thus began a long, and in all honesty, unnecessary debate between us. I knew nothing I said would make a difference, but it had been a boring night, and this was entertaining at least. We verbally sparred for a few round, him slinging crude and confusing points, and me responding with laughter and amused insights (two things angry drunks hate).
He began with an unanticipated take.
“You’re denying an officer entrance. You should be ashamed to call yourself a patriot!”
“An off-duty officer is just a civilian, and it says nothing in the constitution about letting assholes in a bar,” I responded.
“You’re ruining my bachelor party,” he yelled.
“You were found alone and asleep on a bar at 11 p.m. Your bachelor party can’t get any worse.”
He tried again. “Congratulations on being a fucking 30-year old bouncer! Your mom must be proud of you!”
“Thank you! I’m actually only 25, but I’ve been told this beard makes me look older. I’m glad you appreciate it. And she is actually, we just spoke this morning.”
Finally, as always, reasoning stopped working. He unleashed a barrage of insults about my height, my occupation, my haircut (that one stung, not gonna lie), until finally, I decide to stop laughing at him and use my final move; seriousness.
Since he was already up in my face, I spoke in a low, solemn tone. “Dude, it’s almost midnight. It’s supposedly your bachelor party. Where do you really want to be right now? Do you want to stand here in the cold and yell at me for the next two hours, or do you want to take out your phone, order a pizza, and then grab an Uber so you get home at the same time as it arrives? Wouldn’t your fiancée rather you were in bed with her/some pizza than out here losing your voice? Just go home, man.”
At first, I thought he was going to punch me, when all of a sudden my words had the opposite effect. Tears welled up in his eyes and began streaming down his face as he chokingly said to me, “I don’t have a home to go to! My fiancée changed the locks. She won’t speak to me, and my friends all left me tonight. I don’t know where to go.”
Seeing a grown man cry is a sobering experience. I laid aside our differences, lead this broken police officer to a bench about 30 feet away, leaned in close and gave him the kindest words I know.
“Call a cab, find a hotel room, or sleep here for all I care. This is no longer our property and you are no longer my problem.” .