Bouncing

#Workplace

Tue, May 6th, 2014 12:00 by Lord Lansdowne ARTICLE

I'm boring.

But I like boring. I like it a lot, actually. I prefer the solitude of my thoughts to the company of others. My job involves solving the problems of many people everyday. I speak to hundreds of people. Some of these people's work is to save other people's lives. It's a high-stress environment, but I like it. Believe it or not, you actually feel like you're contributing something. Also, I'm very good at my job.

Most of it is customer care. I've worked in retail a good chunk of my life and also worked security at high-end but potentially volatile bars. The latter job has made me strong, assertive, unbreakable. The former has made me genuine, friendly, empathic. My mind is very narrow and I lack vision, which is why I like systems. I work well in systems. I play the role assigned. I play it well.

People have good bullshit detectors. Don't bullshit, don't be an asshole. Be empathic about their problem, but also make them understand your limits and expectations. Yes sir, it totally sucks you can't snort cocaine at your table, but only the stupid make it obvious.

I've met some interesting people in the bouncing business. There are some really tough people that work in it. They're tough because they come from countries where they needed to be in order to survive. The toughest, underneath, were always the ones with the biggest hearts. Some were fathers, working hard, to provide for their family now in the new world. Others were criminals. One claimed he was a murderer on the run from Eastern Europe.

They were good to me because they knew I was reliable if they needed help. I was good to them because I wanted to be sure they'd be the ones taking the punches in the face when things went south. They never questioned my taciturn behaviour or awkward sense of humour. They were more concerned that I wasn't having sex with the party goers. Some even asked me if I was gay.

Bouncing has one great memorable feature: you're in a party, you're not there to party. You're always there, people don't really see you. You're a fixture, not a novelty. You're part of the club, you're never in the club. Discovering the pleasure of solitude, even on a crowded dance floor.

Working as a bouncer was one of those "grow-up" moments in life. You know how something happens, sometimes a pretty shitty something, and you come out of it changed? No, I mean it: you can actually look back at yourself a few weeks earlier and realize you are no longer that person. Something or someone put another crack in your hope for humanity, and you've changed man. Yes, changed, but for better. And it only costs your innocence.

For this job, I was expected to do and say things that, as an introvert, I never would have considered doing. But I'm obsessive about being good at what I do. So I crossed those barriers. The most important lesson? Learn to say no. Don't be a pushover. Say it like you mean it. Learning to say no is probably the most important thing to learn in life. Bouncing didn't make me tough, but it sure made me tougher.

Sooner or later, depending on the quality of the establishment or the crowd they've attracted, there is violence. People fight. They fight hard. They fight dirty. You've got to stop them. You know what works in calming people down? That you're not fucking with them and that you're not fucking around. In an office they would call this 'customer service' and 'posture.'

Life is really is all about customer service and posturing. Especially posturing. I'm not a body builder, but I'm fit. My face just naturally looks angry all the time (I never learnt how to smile). I've got shoulders. I'm told I look like a Russian thug. If I'm out on a Friday night, more often than not, I'm getting stopped by police. I don't look like the kind of guy you'd want to take back home and introduce to your parents. Yet women threw themselves at my feet.

I was flattered from all the female attention I received. When was the last time that happened to you? When was the last time women lined up wanting to have sex with you? I'll tell you: never, that's when. I turned them all down. I was too busy working my way through university, placement, courting my now-wife, my other job and volunteering so as to get a head-start in the experience. Besides, casual sex with a stranger is not my thing.

I told you: I'm boring.

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