A buddy of mine asked me to fill in for him at the bar that he works at. No biggie, we cover each other whenever there is a need. It’s a part of being Brothers. I should have turned him down. The night is almost over and everything has gone smooth. No fights, no puking, no blood. It’s all good. The guy that’s playing on stage is a midget, long haired little cat, plays a hell of a guitar and has a great blues voice. What I don’t know is that all night several patrons have been buying him shots of Jaeger. I talked to the bartender later and she said he drank almost an entire bottle by himself.
It’s about that time and I am hollering out LAST CALL. When all of the sudden, this little naked long haired midget runs right by me.
Now let me pause here and say I froze in my tracks. There are times when you can’t move because you are not sure what the hell it is that you saw and you are not sure you know how to deal with it. In my mind, I pull up everything I can remember from every Marc MacYoung and Peyton Quinn book I can remember. Nada, nothing. I look into the old memory file inside my head and, nope, not one thing about dealing with drunken naked midgets. Fifteen years of the violence trade and not one idea of how to deal with a naked hairy midget! Have I got my point across? I was frozen in my tracks. Now back to the story.
He runs right up to a table full of middle aged biker mamas and starts gyrating wildly while they start screaming and laughing hysterically. There I come, like some twisted leather clad version of Frankenstein’s monster, “STOP IT! COMMME HERREEEE YOUUU!!! He zips away from me and runs up to a table of Mexicans. Then does the same thing and everyone is applauding and laughing. I get close enough this time to grab his arm, and he starts flailing away trying to twist out of my grasp. At this point, his gigantic penis slaps me across the shin. Second freeze in less than 2 minutes.
Let me try to put this into perspective for you. He would have needed a blood transfusion to get a full blown hard on or he might have passed out from lack of blood to his brain. It was a trip hazard. He could stand on a pool table and play golf with no hands. Crawl across the desert sands on all fours and leave five tracks. Do you have the picture? It is fucking HUGE!! Gary Lawson, in his Far Side Cartoons, drew one of a guy that worked in the Herpetarium for 20 years and all of a sudden had a cumulative case of the HEEBIE JEEBIES! That is exactly how I felt at that moment. GWAAAA get away get away now!!!
He runs off and after I unfreeze, I start chasing him again. Finally I got close enough to grab a handful of his hair with a straight arm, didn’t want that thing to hit me again. I lead him back to the manager’s office where they bring his clothes to him. It was then I learned that this was not the first time it had happened and that his nickname was TRIPOD.
So folks, don’t think that you won’t freeze just because you have dealt with things in the past. Trust me, it can get weirder than you would ever imagine and if you’re in the violence trades you had better damn sure be able to change gears on the run.
This is something I do not even consider to be one of my worst nights at work. In a Dallas dive bar I watched a man get gutted by a broken beer bottle and had to fight my way through a brawl to get on my knees and hold his intestines in while a fight is going on around me and kick people away so he didn’t die. It took almost 15 minutes for the ambulance to show up all the while the cops are breaking up the fight and I sat there just thankful that someone hadn’t decided to bust a chair over my head or slit my throat while my hands were full. This is a reality check folks, life is a precious commodity and if you want to save yours you need to learn to adapt and adjust to whatever comes your way. How you react as well as respond to a situation can very well mean whether you and others live or die. In my opinion one of the first things a person has to learn to do to be a good Conflict Manager is the ability to think while acting. If you can’t do this find another line of work, it’s a simple as that. One of the best lessons I ever learned from twenty seven years of dealing with drunken, chemically enhanced primates is to read situations not from what was actually happening but from what should be happening and wasn’t .
I would position myself where I could view most of the bar, and what I was looking for was people not having fun, individuals that were drinking alone and acting sad or frustrated. For groups backing away from an area, or moving into tactical position. I would watch for people that might be either blocking the flow of traffic or entrance into bathrooms. Go out some night to a local bar and look for what is happening and what disrupts that flow or what should be happening and isn’t. Then go to a nightclub and sit away from everyone and watch as the same things occur but in a different speed. This gives you a position of experience to draw from. Do the same at a mall or in a crowed venue, each situation has many similarities and will flow the same way if you know what to look for and what not to look for. You should then begin to look into yourself to see how you will or could respond to anything that happens. Remember that the first goal of a good conflict manager is not to outfight people but to outthink them. This is the difference between a Professional and an Amateur, a pro wants to end it as easily as possible a fool wants to fight. It took me 10 years of broken noses and missing teeth to get this point driven into my thick head. The next 17 I spent learning not to fight but to win no matter what it took.
Let me give you another example. Middle aged man walks in one night with a hot 20 something year old woman. I recognize him from another bar across town I used to work at, real asshole that likes to make a fool of himself and show everyone how much of a badass he is. But what I know that he doesn’t is that two days before I saw him with his wife at a local Walmart. I waited a bit and sure enough he starts acting the way I knew he was prone too. I walked up and leaned over and told him “I know your wife.” He stopped everything and left a little later without causing a scene. I won and kept the peace by simple outthinking the person without the use of violence.
I teach young people that want to go into the bouncing trade a list of rules that if they follow to the best of their ability they will be able to survive. My number one rule and this one is as sacred as anything you will ever read or learn and all the other rules lead right back to rule number one.
1.NO MATTER WHAT WE GO HOME TONIGHT!
If that means we have to apologize to someone we hate, we apologize. If we have to act as a priest and hear a confession from someone that disgust us, then we listen. If we have to bust someone in the mouth with a chair then that’s what we have to do but we go home tonight. We will take the easiest win that we can get and by win I mean we live. To be a conflict manager doesn’t meant to be the best fighter or martial artist. It means to use the best tool for the job and the ability to adapt is one of the most important.