Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Was Once A Bouncer: Santa Fe 1984

I didn't have a car in Santa Fe. When I first got a job down in town, waiting tables at The Forge, I rode Joel's bicycle to work. But--and I don't remember exactly why--I didn't much care for that mode of transportation. What I cared for--in Santa Fe--was walking. I walked everywhere. Luxuriated in my walking everywhere--the slowing down of time, the ability to observe everything, to put together long trains of thought, feel the day, the weather, hear and see the birds, people, adobe homes tucked behind adobe walls and thick wooden gates, smell the sickly-sweet Russian Olive trees, step among the snowflake-feathers of the cottonwoods when they bloomed. Stuff like that. And Santa Fe was--is--over seven thousand feet up, and the house I stayed in on Camino de la Luz was at least a mile, maybe two, from the Plaza and the places I worked. So, I walked a lot and I was in great shape--skinny as I had ever been, since maybe as a pre-teen--and generally happy.
It was summertime, after I'd been in town for months, when I got a second job as a bouncer at Club West. And it was because I walked all the time that I was offered the job. Because, one day, I was walking and I think I had my shirt off and then this guy drives by in his car and then he pulls over and he asks if I wanted to work at Club West. Out of the almost literal blue, he asks me this. I said I didn't know, so he said his name was Ziggy and all I had to do was stop by the club. And it turned out Ziggy had seen me walk many times along that route and that Ziggy was the head security guy at Club West and the manager at Club West was Alex's girlfriend and Alex was a working friend of mine. Ziggy knew a lot of people. Ziggy was also gay, I found out later--which may have had something to do with him stopping me in the street, maybe, maybe not--but that was never an issue. He was a good guy and I took the job.
Now, I'm not a small person. When I was young I was big and strong (though very skinny in Santa Fe) and I had a bit of a physical streak in me. I liked physical jobs and playing football and such. But, overall, I wasn't--am not--an aggressive person. I don't like violence much, certainly wouldn't want to inflict it on anyone. But life as a bouncer was usually just a matter of unlocking windows and doors (and locking them back up), of manning the front door to check IDs and such, of manning the floors looking for trouble-makers. The club was the biggest night club in Santa Fe at the time and even the state politicians would come in. I didn't know them, really, but recognized some (a lot of them ate breakfast at The Forge (Inn of the Governors) due to its proximity to the Capitol). I know I didn't let one State Senator in the door one night because he had a drink with him. He seemed surprised, but didn't argue. He left, finished his drink, then came back. But, he made a point to tell me it "was medicine". Right. I like my medicine, too.
Then there was the day--maybe it was the 4th of July--when it was crowded and we had a guy going through girls' purses. He was a big crazy guy and he wasn't going to leave. That was about the only fight that I got in on and--to be honest--I didn't enjoy it much. And then there was the time I kicked someone out and Ziggy told me to keep an eye out, because the guy had been known, before, to come back with a gun. And I was working the front door. That was enough, then.
Oh, I kept working at Club West. I quit my waiters job, but my heart wasn't into being a bouncer. The idea of getting shot for a five dollar and hour job (or whatever it was in 1984) plus tips didn't appeal to me. I quit eventually, then didn't work, then left town.
But as a bouncer, I often got off work at 3am and I'd make that long walk back to Camino de la Luz in the dead of night. Sometimes cops would shine their spot on me from the park along Alameda, along the trickling Santa Fe River. One time I had a pack of dogs gather around me and I balled my fist into my coat, ready to fight (there were a lot of loose dogs in Santa Fe, I usually kept rocks in my pockets--the dogs were often aggressive (they would have made good bouncers)) but a cop drove up, saw my situation, and backed his patrol car into the gang of dogs so that they ran off.
Being a bouncer was okay. But I prefer walking.

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