Column: A day (or night) in the life of a bouncer

By Jeff Myczek

After coming home from my morning class on Monday, I sat down and picked up the day’s Daily Illini to check out what was making the news. There was an article on UI volunteers helping the community, art at cultural centers, and then finally, the story that really caught my eye, “Bars intolerant of foreign IDs.”

To start first with full disclosure, I am a bar employee, and I have bounced and checked IDs in the past as part of my job. I am, however, also a bar patron who has been through all of the same inconveniences that the story mentioned.

That being said, reading the article this week about entry to bars could not help but fire me up, as those complaints (and others) are things I have to deal with on a daily basis. As a bar employee, I am often a witness to dozens of law violations and acts of stupidity on the job, so to clear up many apparently little known legal (and societal) violations at campus bars, I am going to provide a brief rundown of what many of you likely do not remember doing while you are out.

First off, foreign drivers’ licenses, international student IDs, and speeding tickets are not acceptable forms of identification to enter a campus bar legally. It has nothing to do with a personal bias against foreigners. I have been a student in a foreign country, and I assure you that in order to get into any bar in Hamburg, Germany, I needed my U.S. passport. If you feel that those guidelines are “unfair,” do not scream at me (or threaten me, as is often the case) at the door about how I am somehow discriminating against you because you are from another country. Feel free to level those charges at your elected officials who have written the law, or the police department who enforces it – we bar employees are only doing our job.

Also, apparently, a little known fact is that it is not acceptable to empty your body’s wastes wherever you please at the bar. Like most places, we have bathrooms, and they exist for a reason. Urinating or vomiting on bar property, and in some cases on other bar patrons, will likely get you kicked out of the bar. Punching me, threatening to sue me, or pulling a knife on me (something that has happened to other employees) will not allow you to stay in the bar, and those actions are likely to only get you in more trouble. Not to mention you will either wake up in jail or in the punch line of all of your friends’ jokes.

Theft of bar property is also not acceptable. I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I caught someone trying to steal liquor, chairs, electronics, or furniture from a bar. I, for one, would like to know what you plan on doing with the half-broken bar stool you attempted to “smuggle” out under your shirt, thinking we wouldn’t notice. Trying to steal things from the bar will also get you kicked out and get the police involved, especially if you attack me while being escorted out.

Being a bar employee isn’t easy, but in the end it’s really a good time. Sure, we have to deal with all of you drunk on a daily basis, but it’s always a laugh when we see you fall down the stairs, spill all over yourself, or spend the night making out with someone you don’t know in the middle of the bar floor. Next time you go out, however, remember that laws still apply when you’re drunk (even if you don’t agree with them) and whatever you do that night you still have to deal with the next day – even if your dad’s cousin’s friend’s nephew is a state’s attorney. Unlike your hangover, you can’t sleep off stupidity.

Jeff Myczek is a junior in LAS. His columns appear on Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected]