Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What I Am

I was brought up in "the business" so to speak, where the word bouncer was one that we didn't use. It was almost like a dirty word.

We were never bouncers. We were doorguys. Or floor staff. Or doormen. But not bouncers. Our sole job was never just to keep the peace at the bar. It was also to wash glasses, run the floor and clear tables, and check IDs. We occasionally broke up fights and escorted people out, but the place I initially worked at was tame and the crowd was fairly good at policing themselves, for the most part.

The owner didn't like the word bouncer, either. It conjured up images of big, burly ex-football players dragging someone out of the door and tossing them on the sidewalk in a heap of drunkenness and blood. That, technically, is what the now defunct Classic City once employed back in their hayday. Big guys who frequently were accused of beating the shit out of their customers in the back alley. I was once told there was a minimum weight requirement to work at Classic City. I think it was 200 lbs, if I remember correctly.

But I digress.

So eventually, I bought into the theory that we weren't bouncers. No one was. At one time, I had a belief that bouncers didn't even exist in Athens. For one thing, nobody was big enough. Real bouncers, I believed, were huge. Monsters. And all they did was throw people out all night long. And to be any smaller than 6"5, 300lbs, didn't make the cut.

Time went by and I moved on from the first place I worked and found out that there are plenty of bars that aren't so tame. I went through a lot of firsts after that. The first time I choked someone into unconsciousness, the first time I was punched directly in the face, the first time I had a weapon pulled on me. These were all things that simply didn't happen at other, hole-in-the-wall bars. Especially not in Athens. At least that's what I thought. And it was a shock.

So I changed, too. My theories changed. Maybe I was a bouncer after all, but it didn't feel right calling myself one. Sure, my website says that I'm a bouncer - technically - but the only reason it does is to simplify the explaining that's required of me when I tell people what I do or what my website is about. Hell, look at the URL to my page. Athens Door Guy. Not Athens Bouncer. On some levels, I think it would be a little presumptuous to call myself a bouncer. Not everyone knows what a doorman is, or a "cooler" or a "greeter" or whatever it happens to be called at the moment by the politically correct.

So yeah, I guess I am a bouncer. But I'm also a bartender and a barback. I work the floor sometimes. I also take the garbage out at the end of the night. I sweep the floors of all the shit our customers are too lazy to toss in one of the 2 dozen trash cans that are strategically placed around the bar. I'm a glorified janitor at times, cleaning up puke and broken glass. I help drunk girls into cabs when they can't walk by themselves. I'm an omniscient general information booth about all things downtown Athens, giving directions to various bars, clubs and restaurants while I'm standing on the sidewalk checking IDs and freezing my ass off.

I'm your best friend when you're drunk and out of your mind and want someone to share your drug and alcohol induced moment of euphoria with while checking out all the hot sorority girls. I'm the biggest asshole in the world when I won't let you in or I'm kicking you out. I'm the guy you ask when you can't find your cellphone or your keys. I'm also the guy you'll run to when you're looking for your girlfriend or the group of guys who just left without you. I'm an authority figure to some and the lowest of the low to those who think they make in a day what I make in a year. I'm an impromptu EMT, an amateur counselor for the drunk and disorderly, and a professional collector of a various assortment of fake IDs.

I work at a bar in Athens, Georgia. This isn't the big city, so I'm not delusional about my place in the overall scheme of the bar business. I don't think that I could compete with any of the guys who put up with much more shit than I do at their big city clubs. I'm well aware of my ranking overall. Just to put it down, in writing, that I know who the fuck I am and where the fuck I fall in terms of importance.

But really, I'm a little bit of everything. Being a bouncer, I suppose, is one of those things. But as doorguys that's only part of the equation, as you can see.


At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vrey interesting piece ! This is UGA alum John Wellington in Savannah,GA.


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