You know how writers need bad jobs before we're successful novelists? You know how some of us seek out weird, interesting jobs for the bonus life experience? Yeah... this is one of those stories.
I did my first security job on New Year's Eve, working at a night club in Leamington Spa. British people aren't like Americans, in that British people fight over anything. In the States, things can get bad because people might be packing, but I assure you, casual violence is a MUCH more common thing in Britain.
The evening was eventful.
My shift started at 10:30. The first hour and a half I basically felt like a caretaker, waiting on the dance floor surrounded by pretty people, terrible music thrumming through my body, telling people time and again where the smoking area was, or that I didn't know what was downstairs as I was new.
I heralded the new year by checking the gents toilet and nearly slipping on... something...
Then, pretty much right after midnight, people went insane. I got in two fights, had to verbally intervene on countless occasions and had to kick one guy out just for being a prick to everyone. The most difficult experience of the evening was trying to convince a woman to leave the male toilets. I couldn't physically throw her out (well, I legally could and was actually supposed to, but I wouldn't) and she knew that. So she cheekily patted me on the chest, put her lipstick on and sauntered out.
I also learned that, if you want to know where things are about to kick off, watch the women. Nothing spelled trouble more than an angry woman, and almost every fight, or near-fight, began with somebody's girlfriend getting in somebody else's face. Things would start with a rude remark or a bit of a tiff between the men, but she'd wade in and escalate things horribly, until the men would come to blows, or at least be about to until I showed up.
One time was particularly interesting. I'll describe the man first. He and his friend were older, probably early forties, muscular, covered in tattoos, and quite obviously good fighters. It's in the eyes, the extent of peripheral awareness (how "switched on" they are) and the way they hold themselves when they feel threatened. These guys were tough, and one of them was in a heated argument with a puff-ball, baby-faced 18 year old wiener and his brick shit-house of a girlfriend. The 18 year old was pretty much trying to walk away, but his girlfriend just wouldn't leave matters alone. She was in the coke head's face, telling him he was an old loser, that he was sweating like a pig, that he looked like a low-class poor bastard. She said so many nasty things they blurred together. She wanted to speak her mind, which apparently was quite a disorganised shambolic ramble of hatred and negativity. The problem is, the guy was going to take it out on her boyfriend. The boyfriend looked like he would have been lucky to make it all the way to the hospital. Had things gotten too bad, I can't honestly say I'd have been able to protect him. Like I said, those guys were tough. I can handle myself better than most, but would have had serious difficulty, and probably would have gotten hurt. I'd have hurt them too, but nobody would have looked their best by the end of it.
Thankfully, I managed to calm all the men down soon after showing up, realising quickly that the woman was a lost cause. She kept gobbing off, but nobody was listening to her. The coke head and his friend turned out to be pretty nice guys, actually, and never caused any trouble. He apologised to me for getting mad, and I told him not to worry about it, but just to come and find me if that woman started screaming at him again.
Speaking of showing up, I've been called every name under the sun and discovered, happily, that I really didn't care. I've also shaken hands with many crazily drunk people who wanted to apologise for being a prick before. Gracefully accepted. I had to keep telling them that none of it bothered me, and that I had to keep an eye on the dance floor. Almost every incident wound up with one of the punter's friends telling me how sorry he was for all the things that had been said, and drunkenly trying to explain what was going on, and basically making temporary friends over the whole matter. That was actually quite handy, because it created a good vibe and it meant wherever I went in the club, by the end of things, I had someone on my team.
The most interesting fight, for its ambiguity, seemed at first glance to be about racism. England doesn't have the same kind of epidemic as America. Frankly most of the time here it's just people deciding somebody's being racist because they don't like the look of them. One guy had a fashionable, hipster variation of a traditional(ish) Sihk haircut. He started an argument with someone, who eventually told him he looked like a twat, which he did, and he decided to take that as racist, starting a fight. He was one of the people I had to physically restrain. But like most people who think they're invincible, he was kind of a wimp in the end.
Two fantastic things happened, and both belong in a story. One guy was falling over drunk, and we made him sit in the corner and drink a pint (large glass) of water. Now, for this next part you have to know that the gents toilet was flooded. About an hour after making this guy sit down, I found him in the gents fixing the bloody toilet, shoveling gunk out of it with his bare hands. He was still staggering about, and barely able to speak coherently, but he managed to explain, with a childishly jaunty smile, "While im'z twooo pissed to stand upright, Imz a plummer for mmm... day job, n' I cans still fixes dur toilet!"
By the end of the evening, that same tiolet had a shoe in it. I can't explain that one, but it seems to sum up the evening quite nicely