Saturday, November 27, 2010

Never, ever, ever again

As I watched my manager's face get smashed against the corner of the bar, the only thing I could think was "Someone is going to be killed."

And it couldn't be me.

It's amazing the number of things that can fly through your mind in an instant. My family, mostly, but also possible escape routes, and where the next fist was coming from. Moments earlier, I wasn't capable of a coherent thought. People were shouting for drinks, the music was blaring, lights were flashing, we were running out of change, and  the crowd had swelled to completely uncontrollable levels - both by sheer numbers of people and by their combined intoxication. It was becoming clear that we needed to end the party and close for the night.

So we tried.

I told the people at the bar that we were done. I had already refused to serve the most abusive. The ones who called me a cunt when I cut them off. I hoped they would just leave, and go to another bar. And never come back to ours. But when the lights came on, and we stopped serving, people who were already billigerant completely lost control.

And that is when the first guy jumped over the bar and grabbed my manager. Followed by another guy. And another. And suddenly people were shoving past me behind the bar, as a roar rose up from the crowd.

And in that instant, as I saw them grab him around the neck, and I saw the first blood, I realized that I was in a very dangerous situation. And I thought of my children and husband sleeping at home, and realized that getting injured - or worse - was not an option. So I turned and ran to the back office to get the phone.

911. I needed to call 911. I needed help.

Hell broke loose behind me. Crashing, shattering glass, wood breaking, screaming, shouting - it followed me as I ran.

Two gogo dancers (GO GO DANCERS!? What the FUCK is going on in here?) were sitting in their half naked glory in the back office. I froze, confused. No one is supposed to be in the office. The restaurant had been completely taken over. On a small island, everyone is familiar. We know, at least by face, all of our customers. But this was a new crowd. And it was scary. We were, in that moment, outnumbered. And the people who were in control had lost all control. I needed the phone. I had to call the police.

And the phone was missing. I ran back out to the bar and grabbed a cellphone. My manager was covered in blood. The crowd was not dispersing, in fact it seemed like there were - if possible - more people then ever. I turned and ran back to the kitchen to call 911. The operator had trouble hearing me over the screaming, and through my tears.

I slammed the office door shut behind me now that the dancers had run out to join the melee.

And I sat on the floor and sobbed into the phone. I begged for help.

Help came eventually, but by the time the officers made it inside the fight was over, the guys who had jumped over the bar were long gone. And so was my ability to say anything more then "Never, ever, ever again."

In all the nights of working until 3 or 4am, I never had any real fear for my personal safety. The crowds could be annoying sure. Rude, absolutely. Out of control, even, on occasion. But I always told myself that I had a wide wooden bar between myself and the chaos.

Until the chaos jumped right over the bar, and slammed my managers face into it.

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