Monday, August 29, 2011

Further Adventures of being a Bouncer

I worked Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night this week and still I have not thrown anybody out. I have yet to 'bust any skulls' or stop any fight. I have, however, done a very good job standing around, looking around. That is the essence of my job. Stand around, look around. That should have been in the job description: Must be good at standing around and also looking around, being able to do both at once well is preferable...

Anyways, Wednesday was pretty simple and easy. I stood outside with another bouncer and we greeted guests and carded them. Carding isn't that difficult, but if asked if I could spot a less-than-obvious fake, I would probably have to say no. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any problems. It was busy for a Wednesday, but that's still pretty slow for a bouncer. That makes it pretty easy but also very boring. I worked 8 to 1 or I guess I should say 8 to Closing, because though we last call may be at 1 or 2, or we may close at 1 or 2, we as bouncers then have to go around and get everybody to leave. It is like herding sheep. Very drunk sheep who keep baa-ing over and over to each other. I don't know what makes people want to stick around in a place after it closes, yapping their traps off. The televisions are blank, the music is off, yet they stay, sometimes taking a step, sometimes maybe two, but then getting distracted, like a goldfish. Eventually, we get them out, then we make sure the place is clear, sweep, and get out. I usually clock out 20-30 minutes after last call.

Thursday night I got off because my girlfriend, my roommate and I went to Top of the Hub in Boston. We did this because it was Restaurant Week, which means fancy restaurants have cheaper menus, so we thought of the one place we would probably never go, the fanciest of fancy places, and so we went to Top of the Hub. If you do not know, Top of the Hub resides in the Prudential Center, which is a 52 level building, the tallest building in Boston I believe, and the restaurant is on the top floor. The view of the city is fantastic, fields upon fields of buildings and cars and lights winking in the night, meanwhile lightning flashed in the sky every now and then. The food was delicious, and they had a band playing jazz. It was a really good time and I'd recommend it to anyone, though I'm not sure I would recommend paying full price...

Friday night was very different from Wednesday. I started at 10, which is when we opened the downstairs, which is essentially a bar and a large dance floor and a dj. I was put in the wonderful position at the backstairs hallway. See, we need to keep a count of the number of people downstairs so we know when we are near or at capacity, so we make people use the front stairs. Unfortunately, in the back there is a hallway to bathrooms and to another set of stairs, the back stairs. I was put right there and given tickets. I was the ticket man. People who were already downstairs got a ticket when they went to the bathroom so they could come back through the back hallway and not have to walk up and around again. People who came from upstairs down the back stairwell and wanted to go onto the dance floor...well I had to tell those people no, they couldn't go this way, they had to use the other stairs. As you can imagine, this made me a very popular guy among drunk guys and especially girls with heels. All through the night I was constantly turning people away, and it only got worse as the night wore on and the place became busier. There was also the problem of people losing their tickets when they went to the bathroom, and I couldn't let them in either, the reason being they could have just handed their ticket to a friend, expected to get in because I remembered them and they 'lost their ticket', and then have their friend come in with a ticket. See, everything bouncers do makes sense. It has a purpose and an explanation, yet attempting to explain these concepts behind these rules simply is not possible for some people, especially if they are hammer-faced drunk. So everybody hated me. Actually that's not true. Some people were really cool about it, they realized I was just doing my job, they were nice and did what I asked them to. Others were confused, ignorant, angry. Some expressed disbelief that I would do such a thing as to stop them from going onto the dance floor. I'm not sure how many times I heard the word 'Seriously??!!!' It was many many times. Here's one conversation I had with a girl who'd been a problem all night.

"I lost it. Come oooon, you know me."
"Sorry, I can't let you in without a ticket. You need to use the other stairs."
"You just saw me leave, can't you just let me innnnnnn?"
"Sorry but you could've given your ticket to a friend and -"
"I can't believe this!" (She wasn't even listening to me) "Seriously? You're not gonna let me in? Seriously?"
"I can't let you in without a ticket."
"Seriously? I'll buy you a drink, I'll buy you a shot."
"No thanks. Can't drink on the job. You'll have to go around."
and on. Etc. unto infinity.

So that was my night, dealing with drunks attempting to get by me using whatever method they could think of. One girl was holding hands with another, the first gave me a ticket and simply dragged the other girl right past me very quickly. 'Excuse me! Excuse me!' I called out, even grabbed one of their arms but they simply took off onto the dance floor and I couldn't leave my post wide open. It irritated me. It still does. What the fuck is wrong with people? Apparently they feel entitled. Can't I just let them in? Them and their friends in? Can't I just look the other way? Apparently they're too good to follow the rules, or walk another two minutes around to the other stairs. Apparently they've got to make bouncer's lives hell. Can't people just listen, be polite, and fucking follow the rules? Nope. Drunken trashy girls and preppy guys thinking they own the place, they're special, confused about simple rules, stuck up bitches thinking they can do whatever they want. No wonder bouncers are assholes. It's the fucking drunken bitches and bastards that make them that way. If you simply follow the rules, bouncers are friendly nice people, just like anybody else. I got along with a bunch of people because they followed the rules, said thanks, recognized I was just trying to do my job, realized my job must be difficult, and made it easier by doing what I said. Easy. One guy said "What do I gotta do, give you a dollar or something?" I thought that was funny. Attempted bribery of one dollar. Another guy at least tried five. Neither worked. Like I'm going to risk my job for five bucks. My boss told me during my shift that I had the hardest job that night. Yep, I can see that. Any job where you have to say No to drunk people is a shitty shitty job. One thing this job has showed true, people are stupid.

Saturday night I started at 8, greeting people at the door, then carding, then I roamed the upstairs restaurant. Roaming is simply what it sounds like, walking around, standing around, looking around. I did that for awhile, feeling useless since it wasn't very busy because of the impending storm and rain. But oh well. I walked. I stood. I watched. Then, around midnight or so, I had to stand at the top of the back stairs and make sure people didn't have tickets. This was about the second hardest job. I forgot to tell you before, but tickets are restroom-only, so friday night, I had to attempt to ask people if they were going to the bathroom, and only give them a ticket if they were. If they were doing something else, I had to tell them they couldn't get a ticket and they would have to use the other stairs. Another great part of the job. Many simply lied about going to the bathroom, so the next night, here I am at the top of the stairs, asking people if they've got tickets. I confuse the people who don't understand, the people who simply came from upstairs to use the bathroom, and I have to explain to the people that have tickets that tickets are only for the restroom, and that they will have to use the other stairs. By the end of Saturday night I was going crazy because upstairs was super slow and I was doing practically nothing. Time ticked by so slowly, I felt like I was going to explode. Finally, finally, 2 am came, last call came, we herded the drunks out as quickly as possible, put up chairs, swept, and clocked out. That was my work week.

Woohoo. Good times.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Writing about writing

My mom sent me a book in the mail. It's titled What If? with the subtitle Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. At first I thought hoo boy, another book on writing, great. I can waste time doing exercises that I will never actually use in my writing. Another pair of published writers trying to tell other people how to write, etc. These were my thoughts, negative and pessimistic, I realize.

Then I thought, maybe I could use it. What's the harm? I could read it and do the exercises, and put it in my blog with my thoughts. Hell, it'd keep me writing something, and it would give me material for blog posts, so why the hell not? It's better than not writing anyways.

So I read the introduction. Apparently these two writers are professors who have taught numerous writing courses. Well I guess those are good credentials for writing a book on writing. These two go back and forth on the topic of writing and actually sound intelligent and thoughtful. Now I'm thinking, maybe this book is a good idea. Who am I? Some awesome writer who doesn't need to work on his own craft? How big of an ego do I have? Why not perform these exercises and see if something actually sparks inspiration in my head, or at the very least makes me one shred of an ounce better in any way in regards to my writing. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? I write alot of crap. But that's normal.

So the first exercise is about starting the story. It is essentially about how you want to start a story right in the middle of some action. The background is something you can get to later. You want to hook the reader in with the first sentence, so bam, start it with the detective getting shot at, the monster eating somebody, Joe Shmoe losing his job, etc. Start it in the middle. You can always get to the background, to the real beginning of the story later, after you've pulled the reader in. This is, of course, great advice that I've heard a thousand times. I know it. It's essential if you want somebody to read something.

The book then gives many examples of published stories' first sentences, showing how they all start the reader off in 'the middle of things'. They are good examples, but they leave out my most favorite starting line of any story/novel/whatever anywhere.

"The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." -The Gunslinger, Stephen King

I truly love that line. The second I read it, I was hooked. I was going to gobble that book up regardless of how shitty it might be, simply because the first line is perfection. Of course, the book turned out to be fantastic as well, but that's beside the point. I would've read that book no matter what. How can you not read that book, after that line? Mystery, tension, conflict...It's all there. Who is the man in black? The gunslinger? Why is one chasing the other? And it's so simple! So plain. 12 words. No names, no history, no background, nothing but the simplest line. I love it.

Anyways, here's a first line from two short stories I've started(long stories? Novels? I don't know yet) just for the hell of it.

"Harold E. Cudger woke up in a cold sweat, wondering just where the hell he was." -Bump in the Night(tentative title)

I like that starting sentence. It presents tension and mystery. Who is this guy and where is he? And why does he not know where he is? Here's the second:

"The alarm clock went off, rock'n'roll blaring out of it's speakers until a fist knocked it with entirely too much force." -Thriller(not really a title at all)

This one's a little less mysterious, less tension, but I still like it. Whose fist? Why did they hit the alarm clock with 'too much force'? I don't know. It might not be the best starting sentence. It might be deemed rather boring, but I suppose that's partially what I was going for, because the story suddenly becomes much more 'thrilling' (haha, get it?) soon after. I think it's also somewhat funny. The image of a fist knocking into an alarm clock with too much force. It could also be very cliche. Ah well. It happens.

Regardless, the actual writing exercise is to write ten starting sentences. I'm not supposed to worry about a larger story or turning the sentences into anything, I just need to write them. Then if possible, I should try to write a starting sentence every day. I suppose I will attempt this. Anyways, here's my ten starting lines. Let me know if anything catches your eye, and you think it could be a real story.

He knew all was lost when the assassin's sword swiped the Chosen one's head clean off.

Little Billy knew the monster would kill him one day, but his parents wouldn't listen.

"Well, you really fucked up this time, you know that?"

Terry really thought everything was going fine until he was shot in the stomach.

The old saying was false, dead men did talk, you just had to listen right.

Sometimes, when Johnny sat in that dark damp cellar for awhile with the lights off, he thought he could hear voices talking, talking to him and telling him terrible awful things.

Damien didn't know he was dead until he stood over his own corpse and said "Shit," though nobody could hear him of course.

There was always a black cat watching Jerry when he left and entered his apartment building and for some reason, it was starting to freak him out a little.

The howling was loud and excited, as if proclaiming to the world, We have killed and will kill again. 

When Terry saw the truck, she knew it wasn't going to stop in time. 

Well there, there's ten starting sentences. Some of them I even quite like and think could be the start of a story that even now circulates in my mind, and I'm sure will continue to circulate even as I'm sleeping at night.

There's exercise number one finished. If anyone else would like to perform this exercise and send me the results, I'd love to see them and tell you what I think. You don't have to do ten or anything, send me as many or few as you want. I'd love to put them up here as well, if that would be alright with you. It'd be nice to see other people trying these things while I'm doing it. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Adventures of a Bouncer

I worked last night, even though I have not been trained, because a sister restaurant needed personnel last minute. It was my very first night as a bouncer, and I was a little nervous. I made the half hour walk wondering just how my night would go. Would I have to physically throw somebody out? Would punches be thrown? Skulls busted? Heads banged? Etc? These were my thoughts as I walked over Cambridge St. Bridge, drinking a redbull, and looking at Genzyme. Genzyme is a very large building, half of it is all glass so it looks rather impressive, especially at night, from a bridge over the river. Also, it is where my girlfriend works, from 8 pm to 6 am Friday-Monday. I waved, but I don’t think she saw me, considering I was about a mile or two away.

I arrived quarter before nine, the time I was to start. I was working at Tavern in the Square, otherwise known as TITS, a large restaurant with a large floor that would eventually turn into a dance floor as the night wore on. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I talked to the manager and a guy I guess I would call the Head Bouncer, or Head of Security, perhaps. One thing I noticed right away, practically everyone else who was a bouncer or manager was bigger than me. I guess I never quite realized how of-average-height I really was until I was in a room full of a couple hundred people packed together, some dancing, some staggering, meanwhile I’m attempting to keep an eye on everything happening in my section of the restaurant.  It was interesting, that’s for sure. I was given a couple lines of advice/instruction. “We don’t touch anybody unless they touch us first. We don’t go in alone. Redlight means there’s a fight, greenlight means you need a manager for something that’s not so important, 1,2,3 for location, front/back…Kill them with kindness, don’t get physical unless absolutely necessary…” It wasn’t much for training, but I guess it was a few good guidelines.

So at nine o clock, I get to stand in jeans, a black polo, and black dress shoes, in one spot and keep an eye on everything. It was really easy at first, actually. There was only one really drunk person I saw and he seemed like a happy drunk. I got to catch some of the sports as well, considering the restaurant was a sports bar. I caught glimpses of the Giants game, the Greenbay game and the redsox game. So early in the evening, all I was really doing was watching people eat dinner and drink, my only real task being to keep customers out of the service area. I was on an elevated position, making my job easier.

This soon changed, however. I was moved to a spot near the large dance-floor-ish area, no elevation, near a door that I had to keep clear. More and more people piled in, making the place more and more crowded. I tried to watch everywhere, met with masses of big heads everywhere. It’s rather crazy, the way a bar/club works late night on the weekends. Take more people than should probably be inside, cram them together, give them lots of booze, the temperature cranks up so everybody’s sweaty and hot, then let ‘em loose! It’s chaotic and crazy at times.

There were only two altercations that I saw. One, there was a sudden noise, hard to explain, but I could immediately tell someone had thrown a drink on someone else, as liquid sprayed the air, and people nearby gave the familiar ‘Oooooooh’ when shit is about to go down.  I immediately grabbed my walkie-talkie(there were no earpieces left), called out “Red One, Red One Front,” as I attempted to move through the crowd towards the situation. Not five seconds later, the head bouncer with a fellow bouncer charged in, taking control. It was hectic. I talked to a few people about what I saw, which was next to nothing, a couple guys were told not to come back in, and the night resumed as normal.

The other time, I just saw one of the managers standing nearby, I looked away, then back and he was gone. I walked around the corner towards the door and a couple bouncers go charging outside. I talked to the manager later and here’s what happened. “I give them every opportunity. You say Sir you need to calm down, sir you need to calm down, until they touch you to push you away, and that’s when you throw them out. We don’t want to see anybody hurt, we just want everybody to have a good time.” That’s the kind of thing I needed to hear, to learn.

The rest of the night was rather dull, other than a lot of extremely drunken dancing/grinding/making out. I kept an eye out even more carefully than before, after those two situations occurred. Eventually the lights came one, and we had to herd the customers out like sheep. Then we cleaned up and called it a night. I think I did alright for my first night ever as a bouncer without training.  We’ll see how training goes and what happens after that. One thing I will say, is being a bouncer is great for people watching, because that is all you do. Stand and watch. Long periods of boredom punctuated with few short moments of intense chaos.

And that was my first night as a bouncer. Not that interesting, really, I didn’t even personally throw anybody out. I guess I need to work on that. Maybe next time.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

So I'm going to be a bouncer

Yes, the title is true. I'm going to be a part-time bouncer. Actually, they don't like to use the word bouncer, as that immediately makes people think of 'bouncing' people aka busting skulls, as the manager put it, so technically, I'm going to be Front-Door Personnel, or in other words, I will be working The Door. It is quite a thing, this Door that I will be working. There are two Doors actually, I believe, the front and side door. Perhaps after many weeks of working the Front Door, I will yearn for something different, something new and exciting, and maybe then I will work the Side Door. I guess then I would be Side-Door Personnel. It's all rather confusing and complicated, in that it is in fact, completely simple. Who knows. It is a job, employment, even if only part-time. We will see what happens.

I had an interview for a teaching position. Finally. Someone looked at my resume and cover letter and actually thought, hey maybe this guy could teach stuff to kids or something. It's for an after-school program, and the title is actually Teaching Assistant, but hey it's something. Something to give me much-needed experience  and interaction with students. It's also quite close to where I'm living, so that's nice too. Did it go well? Who knows? She had a few tough questions, about specific situations where I could not reply with teaching experiences as I have no teaching experiences, but I managed to use other experiences in work and life for answers. I interjected with specific questions to do with the school, and showed that I had done quite a bit of research on the school online, which is a good thing. I also wore a hot, uncomfortable suit, which made me look very professional. It would be very cool if I got this job, as I could very well likely keep this and the Door Personnel position, giving me two decent part-time jobs, with which maybe I could pay for rent, utilities, car insurance, and school loans. Blurgh.

I've been watching the show Louie, which is great, though in ways different than other shows are great. It's funny, of course, having been created by Louis CK who is hilarious.

Classic Louis CK

Even though it's funny, it's also many other things. Louis CK seems to love making his audience uncomfortable. Yes, watching this show will make you uncomfortable often, it shows awkward situations just a little too long, and it makes you feel so terribly bad for the main character who often gets humiliated, makes an ass out of himself, and generally does dumb things, all the while just being a regular joe who does stand-up comedy. It's not a show that makes you feel good, or happy, or even satisfied. It will often leave you going "Wha....Did that really just happen?" You will laugh often, and feel terrible about it. I love it.

I'm reading Catch-22, because I never have, and I hear things about it. I can't really remember what I heard about it, other than it is a book, that people have read, and they liked it maybe? It's interesting. It's funny, and a tad wacky. It's a book about war and the ridiculous nature of it, by being, itself, ridiculous. It's good. Read it.

So there it is, things going on in my life. I am also living with my girlfriend which is going great. I just hope I can begin making some money so I can pay rent and stuff.

To end it, here's more Louis CK.

Being Broke

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Next Step

That whole 1000 words a day thing kind of fell apart there. It was partially (mostly)(all) my fault, as I started it the day before I had rugby practice after work, and then a rugby tournament that weekend, leaving very little time for writing. Not that I really write when I have time anyways, I usually convince myself to do something else with my time, but ah well. It is what it is.

Speaking of, my old high school, Randolph Union High School (R U High?) now has a pretty sweet sign out front, with a sign that proclaims 'It is what it is'. I thought that was kind of cool, but also depressing maybe? I mean, look at it. RUHS "It is what it is". That's not exactly an inspiring message right there. On another note, why the hell didn't we have a sign when we were there? Goddamn kids get everything these days.

So I'm going to boston. For an indeterminate amount of time. The amount of time depends on if I find a job or I run out of money. Maybe it's a dumb idea, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. For awhile, I've felt like I've been in limbo. Purgatory. Stuck in between graduating college and finding a 'real' job. Living at home working for my dad, I feel like I'm not going anywhere. I ask myself, how do I get to the next stage?  Where's that final boss that I beat and gets me into the next level? Well, I guess this is the final boss. Moving to a new place without employment and living off what I've saved (not alot). Will I defeat the unemployment monster or be forced to move back home, back into limbo, back to being stuck in between again. We will see. Unfortunately, instead of a sword and shield, I have a resume and cover letter. I think killing a dragon would be easier.

I saw Harry Potter. It was good. It always is. It's that kind of 'good' where it doesn't even matter how good the movie is, you're seeing characters you've grown up with, characters you've watched grow up, characters you care about facing evil bad guys with magic and shit. You can't not like that sort of thing, at least, not if you grew up reading Harry Potter like I did.

In other news, Tyra Banks is writing a three part novel series called Modelland, a fantasy set in a world where girls attempt to get into a magical modelling academy, and the story is about four girls who find 'smizes' and get into the school even though they're not supposed to. I couldn't make this shit up. I'm sure it will sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Teeny bopper girls everywhere will eat that shit up and ask for more. Makes me feel kind of depressed about writing, but, as RUHS says, 'it is what it is.'

I think I've had three or four coffees this morning. That might be one or two too many. Oh well. Such is life.

I wrote a thing that one day that I actually did write 1000 words. I guess it would be called a short short or something silly like that. I might as well put it up here.

The God's Favor

Steel sang upon steel in the middle of the courtyard, and the innocent man knew he was going to die. The two combatants backed off a moment, catching their breath. The innocent man looked scared, bloody stains covering the majority of his meager leather clothing. The other man faced him, half plate covering his chest and shoulders, chain mail underneath, large longsword in hand. The armored man wore no expression other than determination. He was there to judge, condemn, and grant justice, and in a trial by combat, there is only one punishment.

They had been fighting for fifteen minutes as the crowd cheered on around them. They were excited. This melee was lasting longer than most. They grew louder, calling for blood, knowing they would get it soon.

“I am innocent!” The innocent man called out, exasperated. “The Gods favor me!”

“Then what’s takin’ ‘em so long?” A man from the crowd called out. Laughter followed.

“Maybe they like to be dramatic!” Another responded, followed by more laughs.

The other man waited no longer, charging forward and swinging hard. The innocent man parried once, twice, a third time, but everyone could see he was getting tired and losing more blood all the time.

It didn’t last much longer. His sword was knocked out of his hand, and then the other sword was thrust into his chest, the point emerging between his shoulder blades. He stayed standing until the other man put a foot in his chest and pushed, unsheathing the sword from the flesh.

The crowd clapped and cheered. The man who lived wiped his sword off with the shirt of the dead man, sheathed it, and walked away. The crowd began parting as guards hurriedly went to take care of the corpse.

One child, sitting upon his father’s shoulders had a look of confusion upon his face. “The man was innocent. He should’ve had the Gods’ favor. He should’ve won.”

It was not his father who answered but an old man with but a few strands of white hair upon his head, standing next to him. He looked at the child with a grim smile. “It is not the innocent the Gods favor, child, it is the strong.”