This will serve to be a two pronged post.
Last night was ridiculous. It was absolutely nuts downtown. It was comparable to a game day in terms of the sheer number of people walking around. I felt like I was herding cattle all night long at the door. Surprisingly, there were very few problems. It's entirely possible that I simply didn't notice things as well because it was just that packed. I don't see how anyone in their right minds could come out drinking and possibly have a good time with so many people around. But then again, we are
talking about college kids here. And in my younger days I would go to the bars that were the most packed and have a blast. I look back on that now and I simply wonder why.
Ok, so I've already stated my opinion about the governments role in the downtown bars. Since the topic has come up again and again since I said anything about it, I'm going to write about it yet again today.
I don't have a problem with licensing doormen. I wouldn't personally have an issue with it because I'm not a criminal. I've never been arrested. I'm not a drug dealer. I don't break the law. I have a clean slate and getting licensed for me would be a walk in the park. If I have to take a silly online test that the government wants to call "training", then so be it. Fingerprint me and give me a background check. Bring it.
What I do
have a problem with, however, is the fact that the government wants to try and prosecute me as soon as I get a little card saying that I'm now a "licensed and trained" doorman. Why don't they prosecute me now? I'm sure I let in underaged kids last night. I can't be absolutely, 100% sure about every single ID I check. It's just not that easy. People make mistakes.
On the other hand, why isn't more being done to get rid of the underaged drinkers? They're
the ones who are voluntarily coming downtown to consume alcohol under the legal age. I'm
the one who's downtown because I have a job to do, not because I'm out to party. Why prosecute me for doing my job instead of them for going out of their way to come downtown with a fake ID to drink alcohol?
What I do know, however, is that last night I turned away an assload of people. I even confiscated some IDs from some doggedly determined underaged kids who I repeatedly rejected and handed them over to the bike cops.
Chief Lumpkin doesn't seem to hold a high opinion of doormen, either. In a recent article in the Athens Banner-Herald, he claims that "unsavory" doormen accept bribes, let underaged women in and sell drugs.
Personally, I'm pretty sick and tired of the county making an issue of something that isn't an issue and make us look like drunken idiots who are only out to let in underaged girls and contribute to the so-called "problems" downtown. Most of us are decent guys who are out to make money, have fun, and be a babysitter to drunk kids. Even more so, doormen have often gone above and beyond to help assist kids that are too drunk. We've gotten them cabs. I personally have helped assist police officers downtown apprehend people they were trying to arrest. I've seen other doormen do it as well. Working together in this fashion works much better than placing asinine rules into place that can only serve to turn us and the police against each other.
In the years I've worked downtown I have yet to meet a doorman who sells drugs. Does it happen? I'm sure it does, somewhere. But I've never seen it. Ever. Bottom line.
What I do
see are drug dealers roaming around downtown, going in and out of bars selling whatever it is that they sell. I know the bars they frequent - and it's a small number that tolerate their behavior - so I'm sure someone else in a position of authority does, too. What I don't see are the police doing anything about them
. We can keep them out of the place I work at but it's always an effort that needs to be put forth to keep them out. We're pretty damn good at keeping them out because we don't cater to that sort of crowd. It's not tolerated where I work and it shouldn't be tolerated at any bar, in my opinion. But I know for a fact that a huge amount of drugs, primarily cocaine, are running through the downtown nightlife scene and I don't see anyone doing a damn thing about that
As for bribes, they happen. I've seen it. I've done it. I've taken bribes, but not to break the law. I've never compromised my sense of right and wrong for the almighty dollar, and I'll go to my grave knowing that I never looked the other way when asked to do something that simply wasn't right. It's hard to explain unless I go into specifics, but I won't do that here. If you've worked at a bar, then you may understand a little more.
Finally, I guess what I see out of this whole situation is a bunch of people getting together to argue about an issue that none of them really know how to do. County commissioners and bar owners alike...they don't work the door. I do. I work a door multiple nights a week, and I haven't seen any lawmakers seriously asking me for my opinion or inviting me, a lowly doorman who's actually doing it day in and day out, to join the conversation.
I wouldn't accept such an invitation anyway. My feelings are clearly laid out here on my little blog, and I'd like to protect my anonymity as much as possible.
So there ya have it.