Q&A: Former CMU student discusses his experiences as a bouncer
Reece Bays-Kramer perched himself on a wooden bar stool Saturday, Sept. 14 in the East driveway at O'Kelly's Bar and Grille. The bouncer collected $10 parking fees and stashed the money in a clear fanny pack strapped to his waist.
About three football fields away, thousands of college football fans were heard tailgating before Central Michigan's game against Akron. The bouncer wished to join them, but duty called.
O'Kelly's Bar and Grille and Wayside Central employ about 14 to 18 bouncers. Most of them are also students like Bays-Kramer, Bartender Shelby Mottin said.
Bays-Kramer served as a security guard before becoming a bouncer at O'Kelly's Bar and Grille and Wayside Central more than one year ago. The former CMU student transferred to Lansing Community College to pursue a career as an electrician. He still returns on weekends to a "familiar atmosphere."
"I have a lot of friends from high school up here and people I talk to," Bays-Kramer said. "It’s like another family up here. It would be hard to leave, so I am glad I still have the option to be bouncer here."
Bays-Kramer sat down with Central Michigan Life on Sept. 14 to discuss his responsibilities and experiences as a student bouncer.
What are your responsibilities as a bouncer?
The biggest thing is being a people person. Being able to interact with people at any level of sobriety is an important skill to have. It is also busting people’s balls and making sure they’re safe and behaved. Safety is the number one rule.
What drew you to the job?
I had a buddy who worked (at O'Kelly's Bar and Grille). I would help him by sitting next to him and talking or picking up cups. It seemed like a fun gig, and I always liked the atmosphere.
What is it like to be a student and bouncer?
The people I am charge of are my peers, so it is a respect thing. We I.D. all age groups for legality reasons. For any age group, as long as you treat them with respect, they are usually going to treat you with respect. They will listen to you, hopefully. Sometimes, you get those off-cases where that doesn’t happen.
What is your most memorable experience?
On my last shift before I left for summer last year, there were six fights in a half-hour. It was a lot of random things randomly happening. Most of the fights were over spilled drinks. Group fist fights broke out. I am not talking one-on-one. I’m talking five-on-five fights.
What do you do in that circumstance?
You try to play it safe for yourself and the people who aren't involved. At the same time, you are the bouncer and the sober one. You kind of have to go in, break it up the best you can and kick out whoever needs kicked out. In my opinion, the older generation are usually more experienced with drinking and have a higher tolerance to fighting.
How hard is it to kick people out of a venue?
It depends. Usually, it is not my go-to thing. I try not to be a dick. I understand there are certain situations where everyone is trying to have a good time and are just thrown into a bad spot that makes them look really bad. However, if you are being arrogant and have a bad attitude, it is time for you to go.
What has the job taught you?
It is just a regular job. There are nights I come out and blend in with the rest of the crowd. People fear bouncers unnecessarily. Although, people should have respect because (bouncers) are spending Saturday nights making sure they are safe.
Has there ever been a moment where you or someone else has been in harm?
The first time I kicked someone out the guy started throwing ice. It made me mad, so I told him, “It is time to for you to go, bud.” He started walking out, turned around, tried to head butt me and missed. I put him in a headlock. Him and I just sat there for a moment and then a group of us carried him out.
Do you have any horror stories?
There are always threats. During Welcome Weekend, there are always freshman who come to (Wayside Central). It is their first time drinking or being away from home. This year we carried three chicks out at 10 p.m. because they had thrown up all over themselves. It was a bad time.
What safety tips do you have for people that go out to bars?
Pregaming is important. Drink a lot of water before, and eat a lot of food in the afternoon. Just be a healthy person and going out will go so much smoother. Be level-headed and respectful. Be passive and understanding. A lot of the fights I have seen happen when someone slips and stumbles into someone who is drunk and takes it with offense.