The Door Guy is a veteran of countless clubs around town. People say they've seen it all, but he's seen more. Write to him for everything from live advice to life advice.
Dear Door Guy:
A few months ago, I emailed you to ask about the best fights you've ever gotten in as a bouncer. I mean, that's what you do, right? What gives? Why didn't you answer my question? Did you miss my email or did you just not feel like answering the question? I bet you have some crazy stories! It's time for you to share!
— Punch or Punched?
Oh, Punched, you better believe I have some crazy stories. Some are wild, some are sad, and some are even pretty damn scary. And yes, I have a few funny ones. But am I going to share them? Absolutely not.
I have been dodging this topic for months, you're right about that. You aren't the only person who's asked questions about violence in my jobs, but you're certainly the first person to ask twice. Most people who ask the question fall into two categories: people who are complaining about some real or imagined abuse they or their friend experienced at a bar or club, and people like you, who want to hear how absolutely cah-ray-zee my job can get. (I've even had people call me a “fucking pig” who's “just a wannabe cop,” which, if you believe that, speaks volumes about your lack of understanding of how institutionalized power structures work.) And like clockwork, I admit it, I've blown the questions off. Why? A few reasons. One, when people are complaining, they're almost always trying to “out” a particular person or particular business, and guess what? I don't do unsubstantiated gossip. Two, I honestly don't think it's all that interesting a topic. Come on, folks, I'm still waiting for you to write in with tough questions about how to install a dishwasher or the right way to clean your vinyl or the best way to fix your sex life (and I think, after two years, I've almost convinced my editors that those questions can be pretty rock 'n' roll).
But more than anything, every time I think I've got just enough perspective to sit down and write about how tough and physical my job can get, someone perpetrates some unspeakable act of violence here in America, and I inevitably fall down a horrifying rabbit hole of comments by illiterate idiots and internet tough-guys who seem to relish the opportunity to wage some sort of poorly thought-out battle from the relative comfort of their work desks, couches, toilets, or wherever else they feel comfortable reciting their opinion on the matter. Honestly, the relish with which some people delight in their own uninformed point of view makes me sick.
I've encountered plenty of violence in my life and I can tell you, it's absolutely not why I started doing this when I was a teenager, and not why I've continued doing it for longer than I ever expected. It's not the reason most people I know end up doing this. Most of us end up doing it for much simpler reasons: We love music, or we like hanging out at bars, or we like working at night, or we just needed a goddamned job. Those of us in the Door Guy Guild who last do so because we're really good at avoiding fights, not starting them. (It's precisely why I hate, and won't use, the term “bouncer.”)
Of course, there are a few bad apples in the bunch, and I've worked with a few people who consistently made situations worse and things got violent when they shouldn't have. You know what I call those people? Assholes I never want to work with again. Because we aren't there to take swings at people; we're there to made sure customers feel welcome and safe. If that means walking someone out the door who can't control themselves, no matter how entitled they feel to ruin everyone else's good time, so be it. But I get that done with little more than clearly set boundaries and a friendly hand on someone's back about 99 percent of the time. If I walk into a place and see a door person acting tough, it immediately turns me off and makes me wish I was somewhere else.
Of course, there will always be situations that can't be helped, where I'm going to end up going home with sore arms and road rash from wrestling with somebody on the sidewalk. And I'll admit, some of those situations, given the gift of time and perspective, make for some pretty amazing stories. But in the moment, physical violence absolutely, completely sucks. It sucks to have someone swing a bottle at your head. It sucks to have someone come in with an attitude and decide you're the bad guy because of their own shitty mood. It sucks to hear a grown man cry because someone just clocked him in the face with a bar stool because they were looking for a fight. It sucks to have your hands trembling and your muscles twitching for hours after you singlehandedly dragged two knuckleheads to the ground and somehow restrained them without getting injured yourself until the police slapped cuffs on them. For me, avoiding such things is the definition of a success, not the other way around. Violence may be an inevitability, but it's nothing to aspire to.
So excuse me if I am not interested in using this column for wild stories about times my job got violent the day after some nut job shoots up a movie theater or recruiting station or some unarmed kid gets shot in the back for having a bad attitude. Sorry I don't speak of violence with the same excitement of armchair cowboys with strong opinions and no practical experience. I've known and worked with some of the toughest people you could ever fathom meeting, people so hard that I know I wouldn't last a second. To a one, they don't brag. We might share a story or two, but the people who I respect, and whose respect I've earned, don't get off on this shitty aspect of the job. We'd all rather be watching the band. To paraphrase the Geto Boys: Door Guys don't show nuts, because truly good Door Guys know they got 'em.
Please, let's all hang out, have fun, and behave ourselves. In the meantime, seriously, folks, I give great relationship advice. Let's talk about how shitty your boyfriend is.
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