Tonight I met Roy. You could refer to him as Cowboy Roy and everybody would know who you meant. Roy and I had a unique time together tonight.
I carded Cowboy Roy as he came in the door. He was a big dude, tall and stocky like a lumberjack. He was easily a whole head taller than me. He was in his late 40’s and asked me a lot of questions. Way too many questions to be asking the door guy. He was wearing blue overalls and a flannel shirt. He definitely looked like a working man. He had thick, worn fingers that reminded me of small potatoes. They grow ’em big down on the farm, I reckon.
Sometimes when a person comes through the door we just have a short 20 second interaction where I ask to see your ID and give you the appropriate stamp. Other times I act like a host and answer a bunch of questions and even help seat you in the appropriate area. Other times I’m an event promoter and I’ll try to sell you on seeing the bands performing tonight. Or I’m the concierge and I’ll answer dietary questions about our menu, coordinate access for someone with special mobility needs, and even act as a tour guide and offer suggestions for other nearby places.
Roy came in and just wanted to be my friend. He told me his name was Roy and asked mine, which is quite atypical. Sometimes I don’t give my name but this instance seemed harmless so I told him. He seemed more than content to just stand in the entryway and chit-chat with me, his new best friend. I answered some questions of what we offered and how the place worked. He was intimidating visually, but a teddy bear once you started talking to him. I quickly understood that he also had a limited mental capacity. He wasn’t grasping social etiquette well and had a slight speech impediment that made him sound drunk when he wasn’t. He shook my hand and held onto it wayyyyyyyyy too long. He proceeded to shake my hand several more times. He could have crushed my hand like a pop can if he wanted to. He also had thick Coke-bottle glasses and very bad teeth, so his overall first impression wasn’t that great.
Roy saw my female coworker standing behind us and went up to her and said, “You’re purrrrrrty.” Her eyes got very big, and I quickly directed Roy to the host so he could go inside and be seated. Neither of us thought he was being a lecherous old man. He just had no understanding of social cues or how to interact with people socially. Think of the mentally challenged character from the great Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. Lennie Small. That’s him, that’s Roy. I think that he honestly didn’t get out much and wanted to give her a legitimate compliment. However, giving a compliment like that comes off more like you’re an inbred hillbilly rapist from the film Deliverance. He just as well could have said, “Girl, you got a purty mouth. Let’s make a baby.” Once he moved into the dining area my female coworker said, “Roy is just a simple man.” We laughed and moved on to helping other patrons.
About a half hour later one of the managers asked me for help with exiting a customer.
without even looking, I knew it was Roy. They told me that a gentleman had been cut off and they had already removed full alcohol bottles from his table. Now he had moved to a stranger’s table and was talking with him. Harassing him was how they described it. They had asked him to leave and he refused. So they asked me to escort him out. Ah Roy, we hardly knew ya.
I walked into the restaurant portion and immediately saw Cowboy Roy, my good ol’ boy. He had indeed plopped himself down at a table with a stranger and was talking the guy’s ear off. Loudly. And he was now indeed drunk. Visibly intoxicated, as we would describe it in the reports. I walked around the table and said hello to Roy. His eyes lit up and he smiled at me like I was his brother. I then asked the man at the table if he knew Cowboy Roy. He laughed nervously and said that he didn’t.
So I asked Roy to walk outside with me. Of course he shook my hand another time. Damn, he had a firm grip. I leaned down and tried to explain as clearly as I could. Smiling, of course. “Roy, the managers here have asked me to ask you to leave now. They aren’t going to serve you any more beer because it seems that you’re pretty drunk. So I would like you to walk outside with me and we can find you a way home tonight.”
Tactful and clear. I feel like if I hadn’t bonded with him at the door and become his new best friend, this wouldn’t have gone well at all.
He looked up at me for a moment and then said almost bashfully, “Oh, ok.” He said this the same way a little kid would say it after getting caught lying. He stood up to his full height, smiled at me, and held his hand out in the gesture that means, “After you.” I smiled at him and made the same gesture, encouraging him to walk out of the restaurant ahead of me. “Oh, after you, Roy.” He made the gesture again and said, “Go ahead.” I made the same gesture and said, “No really, you should go first.”
Obviously everybody saw me get called over to kick this guy out. Everybody is watching this silly interaction go down. Roy is about a foot taller than me and a hundred pounds heavier, and he’s drunk. Also a bit mentally challenged. He could do some damage to me if he wanted to. Roy is not a fella that I want to grapple with. I guarantee that all waitresses, managers, customers, and hosts were watching this happen wondering what in the hell we were doing. “After you, no you first.” Was he about to swing on me? Were we about to dance? Am I going to grab his arm and try to manhandle him out of here? Hulk smash?
I smiled and finally said to him, “Roy, I’m security here and I am supposed to walk out behind you. So please, help me out and let’s both walk out now.” Letting somebody get behind me whose intentions are unclear would be a very unwise move on my part. He could decide that he didn’t want to get kicked out and punch me in the back of the head. He could get his arm around my neck and choke me. He could trip me or tackle me or get me in a sleeper hold. There is no way in hell any bouncer would ever do that.
So he walked out of the restaurant ahead of me and I followed him out, just like two old friends. I felt like a pilot fish and he was the shark. I made eye contact with a few customers and staff as we walked past them. Everybody was watching us intently, but smiling at me seeing that Roy and I had come to an understanding. At the door he asked if I could call him a cab. I said I would gladly do that once he walks out the front door of the establishment. We have cabs outside our place all the time, and if there isn’t one already there, I can call one and they will get there in a minute or two.
As I called for a cab for Roy one of my coworkers said, “That was the nicest, sweetest bouncing of a drunk that I’ve ever seen.” Indeed. It truly may have been. Playing tough guy in this situation probably would not have worked as well as acting like the guy’s friend. Always go for charm when you can in these dicey scenarios. Everyone in the restaurant sighed in relief now that the potential situation had been resolved.
I look outside and I see a vehicle pull up right outside our doorway. This is common as Lyft drivers, Uber drivers, and taxi cab drivers are constantly parking out there for loading and unloading. I see Roy go up to the vehicle, thinking that it was his driver already. He starts pounding on top of the vehicle in drunken excitement. Kind of drumming on the roof, ready for the night’s next adventure. With those huge hands of his, from inside the car it probably sounded like two jackhammers. Then the door opens and a military-looking man gets out and starts yelling at him. “Get the fuck off of my car! What are you doing? I’m an off-duty sheriff and I’ve had a shitty day. What is your problem, asshole?”
Goddammit. I finally got Roy out of here without incident and now an off-duty sheriff is about to kick his ass. Once I saw Roy start to pound on the vehicle I dropped the phone and ran outside to intervene.
I yelled, “Officer! Hold on, this is a misunderstanding. This gentlemen thought you were his Uber driver. He didn’t mean anything by it, and also he’s a bit…uh….challenge—uh…he’s had too much to drink tonight. Please, just let me handle this. I got it.”
The angry off-duty sheriff backed off.
I put my hand on Roy’s shoulder and explained, “Roy! Hey buddy, this isn’t your ride. This is somebody’s personal vehicle and you surprised them. But your taxi just rolled up down here at the street. Let me walk there with you.”
He shook my hand about 4 more times and I swear he just about hugged me. We walked to the street where Radio Cab was waiting. He said, “Hey, thank you. Thank you for a great night, and for taking care of me. I’m just out here living my life, ya know? Just living the life, living every day.”
Hell yeah, Roy. Preach the word. If you come back again, please ask for me. Cause now we’ve got history. And I’ll keep you out of trouble.