The other is simply the ability to talk to people. "Empathy is probably the most important skill you'll have as a bouncer," Cronk says. "If you're doing your job right, you're talking people out of doing stupid things; you're not encouraging them. If you do it really good, they'll think it's their idea." Your entire job description is doing whatever it takes to make sure you don't have to do an Uncle Phil on an entire bar of Jazzy Jeffs.
A Lot Of Bouncers Moonlight In Less-Than-Legal Jobs
There are, of course, perks to being the guy who cracks the skulls: free drinks, free merch, and a surprising number of women whose relationship issues we won't comment on who get all tingly at the sight of a mountain with an eye patch. ("The bigger and more scar-faced, the more intimidating you are, the more they wanna take you home with them," Cronk says).
"Before you say no, let me show you my knife-fight scar."
These perks do not include, however, the pay. Just like everyone else in the bar, they're working for minimum wage plus (often nonexistent) tips. "You'll get into all kinds of 'cheap thuggery,' we'll call it," Cronk says. "Beating people up for money, things like that. I've personally never beat anyone up for money, but I've had offers. More often that not, it's selling drugs."
There's actually a logical reason bouncers wind up as drug dealers, and not just because it's kind of a lucrative market: You literally find that shit just lying around. "You're the last one at the bar, you're sweeping up, you're going to find drugs," Cronk says. It's pretty easy to look at your haul at the end of the night, look at your paycheck, and come to a less-than-legal decision.
Scott Stanley/iStock/Getty Images
"It's this or becoming an eye-patch-themed gigolo."
For someone who's just happened into the drug trade, how do you even know what to do with these valuable discoveries? There is a code of ethics here: It's generally frowned upon to sell it back to your customers at the bar, but it's not like you can set up a table at the local flea market, and most people tend to avoid making friends with crackheads. Cronk says, "Go to the strippers."
"Strippers always know where to unload drugs," he says. "They'll ask for a cut, but whatever. Some bouncers I've seen, especially in shittier bars, I've seen them sell drugs to their own customers, and really, you can't fault them. We get next to nothing. Even the best people might last a year before they decide this is stupid and pointless and I'm not making any money doing it."
You can't even afford to drink where you work to take your mind off it.
So remember, next time you go out, please tip your bouncer. Just don't be weird about it.
Manna has punching allergy and also a Twitter.
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