One of the amusing tidbits in past was the year I spent working as a bouncer at a rave club in Gainesville, FL. Or rather, the rave club. In the whole south east. The place was legendary and people would travel from all corners of the world for special events there. The head of security had realized at one point that the biggest problem was that his staff would often abandon their duties to dance and get loaded during the headliners. To combat this he fired all of them and hired a team of people who he knew would have no interest in who was DJing, and no loyalties among the clientele – Straight Edge kids and Skinheads.
Turns out that a gang of teetotalers with no aversion to violence make really good security at a place like that.
The money was great even if the hours really sucked. Fridays and Saturdays often resulted in working until and hour or two after the sun came up. But we got paid in cash at the end of the night, and immediate financial gratification made 10 hours of untz untz untz almost tolerable.
I’ve got plenty of amazing stories to share about what when on during those long nights, past the long lines – and I will likely fill a chapter in a book with nothing but that at some point. But the most interesting, and frightening thing that happened wasn’t so much behind closed doors, but inside of ourselves. Well, I don’t want to speak for anyone else – inside of myself.
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely, but unless you’ve actually had a taste of that kind of power it’s hard to understand exactly what that means.
Inside that club we had absolute power. The owners had our backs, the police didn’t question us. If someone gave us some attitude it took nothing more than a chirp on our walkie talkies and within seconds there would be 3 – 4 “security team” members there actively ready to beat the crap out of someone. If attitude guy ended up getting his ass kicked, all we had to do was say they threw the first punch and the cops would be right there to arrest them. No witnesses or corroboration needed. “What’s that? Line to get in is too long tonight? Well lucky for you there is a special offer that if you hand over $100 I can move you to the front of the line, if you don’t you might end up waiting all night or get thrown out minutes after you get it. Sure, think about it and let me know.” That happened. A lot. When you realize you can get away with anything, you stop considering where the line is. Who cares if you cross it, because as far as any officials go you will always be on the right side of it. In the year I worked there not a single “questionable” action was ever questioned. And that feeling of invincibility didn’t just turn off when we went home.
When I realized how this was effecting me I quit immediately.
Consider the reputation bouncers have at pretty much any other club you’ve ever been to and you’ll know this wasn’t a unique situation. And that’s just inside the walls of one building. What if that power extended over a whole city? The whole country?
Years later I was in a car with some friends, one whom happened to be a police officer. We were in Chicago and had gotten pulled over for running a stop sign. Badges were flashed and jokes were made and we were let go without issue. I doubt the experience would have been the same had we been a car full of civilians.
What if that call for backup didn’t just bring your 2 or 3 friends, but potentially hundreds of armed officers who you knew would help justify any actions you decided to take. We’ve all heard the stories (and seen the movies) of police officers getting nailed for corruption – but how many stories don’t we hear about?
It takes a certain kind of person to decide they are going to make a career out of having power over other people. To decide to spend their time enforcing laws that don’t apply to them. Even the ones who go in with good intentions are going to be put in situations every day where that will be challenged.
When I say I don’t trust cops it’s because I know that they know they can get away with anything.