Thursday, April 27, 2006

Image

Don't ever forget that most of what you do in life will be judged by how it looks.
Whether, it's taking the train in the morning and catching the eye of the future spouse/lover/bed warmer as you slowly flip your trashy paperback's pages, or walking into the merger talks with the global empire and seeing your 15 years of late nights and no weekends turning into enough money to buy whole islands with.
In every situation when you're not alone be aware of what you look like. Humans are visual animals and before we're talking/crawling/bawling/shitting under control we're visually aware.

I always turn up to work in a freshly ironed shirt, polished boots, clean shaven and hair under control. I may not always leave work in such pristine condition but even when all hell's just kicked off and you're patching yourself together it's still worth taking the time to put your shirt in and straighten your collar.

Now punters seem to be aware of the importance of image only sporadically. They will spend ludicrous amounts of money on the latest chav labels and make sure all can see. Personally if the label is big enough to read from closer than hugging distance I'll not buy it, but I'm not the kind of chav who goes clubbing in "my club". The offront caused by informing them at the door that they can't come in looking like that has to be seen to be believed. A chav's idea of dressing up smart really astonishes me sometimes, the more chains and labels visible the better dressed, goes their thinking.

Once suited and booted however they will proceed to get so twated they can barely stand, have spilt beer/cider/alchopop/coke/vomit over themselves and still think now would be the good time to try and approach those sexy ladies.

Don't ever forget how you look because you can garuantee everyone else will know.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tips Bribes and favours

Now a fellow doorman from over the pond has been writing about name dropping and getting kick backs. This is one of those areas where your judgement really has to be sound.
We've been having some minor grief from punters turning up at the door from a specific warm up bar and saying "Mike from the P***er" knows them and can they get in for free. Now Mike (not his real name) did work at the P***er and will ask to let some selected staff from there in after they've finished work. This kind of favour is expected and promotes good business. What isn't expected is staff at the P***er to tell any punter they like to use Mike's name to get in for gratis. They don't get in for nowt, our management make sure of it.

As an aside, our retribution for this flagrant abuse of name is that we send all of our too drunk to come in folk down to them and hopefully they'll get the point. Whilst on this aside, when working the gay night we get the doormen from a nearby bar sending their waifs, strays and folk they don't like our way to give us a laugh.

Now when queues are long and slow we often get folk trying to circumvent the tedious wait and drop names on the door. "I'm a friend of Jacks" or the like, now the fact that Jack used to work here once upon a time at least 3 years ago and was at least 2 management companies past makes this style of attempt a little shoddy. Sometimes the connection to a current doorman does exist but can be as tenuous as I'm his hair-dressers boyfriend. Mostly these things are ignored and they queue just like the rest of our lovely punters. Occasionally you bother to radio them to the door and find out they don't know Dave from Adam and there's an even slighter chance of getting in than if they'd bothered queing instead of taking the mick.

Some folk think a pecuniary advantage will secure them entry, this is possible. Paying the doorman enough money to let him do what's in his discretionary powers is an option, though many a punter comes unstuck when they find out that, just because they've paid their way in, they haven't bought the place and certain rules still apply. They do seem most upset when the doorman, two notes better off, who whisked them past the queue in the rain , objects to the snorting of coke off the table or grabbing of our bar staffs tits.

In my experience this side of the pond, unlike in the service and tipping culture over there, it's best to let those who want to pay to wait like the rest of them. You'll often see that when they can't bribe their way in they turn into very obnoxious people and reduce their chances of entry to zero. If they think that they can buy their way in and buy doormen, they're probably not the sort you'd want in most nights. I'd far rather give a favour to regular, no trouble customers than a one off, cash rich, irregular. If I screw up and let in a proper numpty it could easily be my job, at least with favours to regulars the management know the value of £50 every single week fifty two weeks of the year.

There will be more on this shortly.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Barriers

There is a phrase I was taught when training to work on the door and that was psychological barriers to communication. These are usually when some specific state of mind in a punter gets in the way of the message you are trying to put across. It can be their ego, their alchohol/drug influenced mind or their intent on pulling/having a good night/beating the crap out of someone. It does occur quite often but I have an arsenal of tricks to overcome this and usually they work.

I did encounter one gentleman on whom none of my usual tricks worked. Here's how it panned out. I was wandering about the club as I'm obliged to do and on returning from checking the darkest smelliest corner or our smallest most remote gents toilet I witnessed this lad, all five foot five of him aim his body at one of the pillars with a drinks shelf 'round it and after two failed efforts he managed to latch himself to it. Some other matter popped through the radio and I quickly popped over to see what was up. On my return three minutes later he was still propped where he had landed and seemed not to have moved a muscle. Far too drunk methinks and so I shuffled over and had my usual words.

"Y'alright there man?"
It's always best to ask something to see what level of numpty you're dealing with.
Him, no response. This despite the big ugly man taking up most of his field of vision.
A grasp of his shoulder and turn him towards me and a repeat of the previous,
"Y'alright man?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, just looking for my mates"
"Sir, I think you've had enough, it's time for you to leave."
"Nah man, I'm just waiting for my mates"
"Sir, you're leaving, make your way to the door"
"Why? I'm just waiting for my mates"
"You've had a good night, you need to leave, you're not in a fit state to stay in here."
I was quite suprised by how verbally coherent he was, clearly drunk from the neck down.
"I'm just waiting for my mates"
"Sir, you're leaving, now!"
"I'm waiting for my mates I'm fine"
Note the barrier, despite my persistent line he's just not getting it.
I place one hand on his shoulder and holding his jaw turn his head 'til he's looking me straight in the face and I repeat,
"You've had enough, you're leaving."
"I'm just waiting for my mates"

He's still not getting it and now one of the fabled mates turns up.
"You're mates had enough, it's time he was leaving" A point which the mate took on board in one effort and actually kept out of the way.
Time to put my arm aroundthis dimunitive punter and turn him towards the door. I toyed with pressing the radio and hauling him physically through the fire door but didn't think it was going to go that far so I held off.
"Sir you're leaving, get going"
"I was just waiting for my mates. Why?"
"I've told you already, you've had enough, you've had a good night, time to go."
"I was just waiting for my mates, no way"
"Make your way to the door now."

So with my arm around him and my hip half behind him I press him towards the door and with him possessing little or no control of his lower body he moves inexorably towards the front door.
"I was just waiting for my mates, you can't be kicking me out"
"You've had enough, you're going home"
By this point we've reached the front steps and with a draft of cold air and the egress through two rather large men the barrier to communicaiton is finally overcome and the ominous truth dawns on him he's been kicked out for being too drunk. It took a while but he got there.
"He's a fucking knob, he can't just kick me out"
were his parting thoughts to the two mildly amused front door lads who were hoping their rather quiet night would be picking up a bit.

As you can see, despite being reasonably coherent verbally and being told clearly and repeatedly what was hapenning and why he just couldn't get it into his brain.

A strange lull

This weekend has been poor. The numbers of punters out and about has been reminiscent of the first few weeks of January. I got to work four venues over the weekend before "my club" opened and at none of them was there anything like the usual level of Friday, Saturday crowds.

I think the one weekend, towards the end of the month, sitting squarely between two bank holiday weekends is always going to suffer but I was shocked at the rarefied atmosphere. T'was only the gay folk who turned up in a party mood and they all disappeared by the end of the night. It's so much nicer clearing a venue when there's only 3 punters left in with drinks and they're as keen to disappear out the door as you are.

I have to praise the gay night DJ as he manages to get a barely filled room up and dancing and having a good time for most of the evening. This in comparison to some of the other folks who just don't seem to care and stifle a busy club full of punters into keeping off the dancefloor 'til after midnight. At this point hormones and alcohol would have punters dancing to Bavarian Oompa just to get grinding next to somebody.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Puppies

both kinds.
The extended hours of sunshine and drinking are upon us and this means my job gets both harder and more pleasant. The long sunny days lead to folk wandering into a local sunny beer garden and 12 hours later staggering out of our nightclub having spent their weekly earnings on a hangover for tomorrow and not alot else. The number of folks just having a quick nap in the back of our club despite the ear shattering music and strobing lights is on the increase. Their suprise at waking to the still chill night air is always endearing, though the often colourful interlude moments later is not.

The more sensible ladies, that's the ones who dress according to the weather not just in skirts best measured in millimetres, start venturing out in the evening wearing less clothing*. This is often a good sign as the sensible men who seek to court these fine specimens are emerging to to stalk their prey. They make much better punters in general and don't tend to be able to consume their weekly wages in a twelve hour session even with generosity towards their friends. Also to be noted is their aversion to physical violence a good middle class background brings, far more likely to appologise to you for your treading on their toe and offer to buy you a drink should the situation escalate.

A mixed bag really, however the looming onset of the world cup with match times in a sensible time zone will no doubt send the sensible ladies running for a quiet dining room and a lot of aussie red whilst the sensible men revert to tribal beahviour. More on this later no doubt.

As to puppies of the second kind, all of my associates seem to now be the doting owners of puppies this season. Not viscious, whats got three legs and one arm types, but family mid sized house dogs. Too many photos on phones of big eyed, clumsy pawed furry balls of canine. It's a mellowing influence on these burly men I work with and can as such only be a good thing.

*Puppies of the sweater kind

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Illness

Now I work with in excess of 1000 people everynight, from generally the local area but often from far afield too, my immune system gets a fairly thorough pounding. I get exposed to all the latest variations of flu virus on a nightly basis and am lucky that my immune system seems ready for it.
I go away and and interact with only a select few healthy individuals and on my return a cold sets in. What gives?

Maybe I just can't cope without my regular dosage of new viral strains. This weekend I'll be standing on the door with a pack of tissues in my pocket, red nosed, bleary eyed and generally even more grumpy than you'd expect possible from a man who likes his customer service job.

This weekend I won't be needing to threaten physical force, my viral reproducing minions shall be spreading my wrath before me. Either this of the face like a bag of spanners at death's door will do its work and I'll get an easy few shifts. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ahhh, that's better

Just back from a weeks holiday in a quiet, secluded part of the world away from phones, drunks and life in general. Not too lazy though as I had a lot to do but at least I return with my mind back in top gear and my body refreshed.
Managed to locate my pay from last week when I returned and all is good with the world. Nasty looking bill when I got back, will have to shout at the gas company if I ever get past this automated call handling, 7 menus and a lot of time waitng for an operative not to be busy.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

The front step

The front step of most venues is where ninety percent of the trouble happens and it's the place I enjoy working most of the time.

It's where people get asked for I.D. and are often found lacking, not just of I.D. but many other faculties normally necessary for continued life on this planet.

It is the place where my years of experience at making snap observations of drunks come in. I have scant warning of an impending drunken individual and have to quickly decide if the venue will be better with them in than left outside. Usually outside is best and I'm a nasty man for doing this to ladies too. I appreciate the level of wobble ankle shatteringly stupid heels can induce, but when the totty is in no state to control her totter its time to refuse and hope she gets in a taxi before her legs snap.

It's where the barred get refused and generally don't go quietly into the dark night. They're seldom drunk enough to repeat the antisocial behaviour that has resulted in their barring. They are however often bemused by the fact that we don't have to be fair, we don't have to care if we've upset them, we dont have to sort it out and don't have to be a mate. I'm happy being a grumpy, tired, miserable sod and wouldn't freely associate myself with these folk whatever circumstances were.

It's also where the folk who've been ejected for various misdemeanours within the venue stand and vent their anger. Some just stand and vent their stomachs which is probably more offensive. Those who stand and argue fall into two broad categories, those who accept they've left and will demand a full justification in copperplate script in triplicate and notarised signed by the owner of the whole venue chain and there are those who don't seem to think the escorted trip to the front door will interrupt their plans to woo the beer gogglingly attractive female they've had their eyes on inside. The repeated efforts by stealth, verbal assault and physical assualt to get back into the venue are scuppered by our years of experience, thick hide and liking for a little rough and tumble respectively.

It's a place I spend alot of time and if you're asked to move off it, please do so and don't be back, I get rather protective of my 6" slab of blood, vomit and chewing-gum covered concrete.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Sleep?

Not getting enough.

From 7am Friday to 5am Saturday no sleep.

From 9am Saturday to 5am Sunday no sleep.

From 10am Sunday to 4am Monday no sleep.

7am Monday finish weekend and start the working week again.

This is not a helpful sleep pattern. I've usually just recovered by Thursday just in time for a fair night's sleep before Friday starts and I'm back to the same state of physical exhaustion.

One up side, the lack of sleep and the stamina/speed training regime has me losing weight like a smackhead on amphetamine. Oh well, new trousers needed.

New management

In a move not entirely unrelated to the change of company and new ties we've got ourselves a new boss at the place I like to think of as "my club". This new force to be reckoned with is a thirty something no-nonsense individual who's been in the bar trade since they were 18 and for the minute seems to be sensible.

We've yet to find out what this new bosses personal bugbears are but no doubt they'll creep out of the woodwork soon enough. Then it'll either be a case of, 'yeah no problem, I can do it that way if you prefer' or 'One doorman for hire, clean and housetrained'. Hopefully it won't be the latter but who knows where the new supremo is taking the place.

If the uniform changes to something comical and we have to seek personal approval from the manager to even approach a customer then I'll be happy to get the hell out of dodge. This has happened in a pub I worked at on relief and I was not a happy bunny over that.

In most of my dealing with management, note the lack of rubber chicken gags, I tend to keep my head down and my philosophy out of it. If I screw up doing the job then I've no complaint being kicked out but if the boss just ends up thinking I'm a tosser for an offhand afterhours remark then thats a poor way to start walking.
Time to surrender the Jim Davidson/Roy Chubby Brown/Oswald Mosely joke book and not mention the one about the woman with two black eyes.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Travels

This weekend I've been an intinerant doorman doing 5 venues in 3 nights. This is possible due to my inherent quantum behaviour or more likely late licences and other itenerant doorfolk. The travels have let me in on one thing to be thankful for.

The venue I like to think of as home for the minute may have poor hours and very near the bottom of the barrel punters but it does have one thing the other venues almost entirely lack. There is a sense of teamwork about the place and it makes working there simpler in many ways. The other venues have separately many characteristics which are far superior to "my place" with generally a much higher standard of clientelle, better decor, a better and less alcohol poisoning tempting bar tariff, prettier and more polite staff and a whole list of other properties that all should make any one of them a better venue to work in.

However they all lack the level of teamwork that exists at "my place". Not just amongst the doorstaff who by their very nature have to work as an effective team to keep out of hospital and earning their pennies. But beyond this to the whole club staff and even the regular punters. The glass-collectors and the barstaff will smile and let you know if the world's good with them or if they can't be arsed with another dead thursday night or if all hell's about to kick off and they'd like to see some big men in black coats arrive like the legion army. This is not the case everywhere.

The management like to know our names and will talk to us like human beings where a quick word here will suffice rather than passing sh*t up the foodchain only to get it multiplied and shat back down the foodchain onto our heads. Not for anything approaching incompetence, just occasional oversights and dimmness. This is not the case everywhere.

The punters, though the scum of the earth, realise that the more helpful they are when sh*t goes down the better life is when they're back in there next week and they've lost their coat or need physical help to stand up and leave the premises. Their loyalty to a club that is draining them on a weekly basis of their money/dignity/a future/hearing/sexual health/liver quality is remarkable if only for its sheer stupidity. This is not the case everywhere.