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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fronting Up

Some encounters you have, you know fairly bloody quickly you've not got the firepower.
When you've got a lad with you who's pulled his back, another inside, working straight through after a 12 hour static site shift and 3 hours sleep preceding and a new lad, keeping the smoking area tidy at about the extreme of his capability and skill keeping the smokers outside and the drinks in.
When a large group of lively gentlemen who clearly enjoy some extra-dietary supplements and are thoroughly in drink decide a visit to the venue you're at will make their night complete. 7 big ones, 1 older one and 2 young ones make up the group. In a line-up by body weight or bicep I'd have weighed in seventh or eighth out of the lot of us.
"Sorry gents, not tonight" goes the initial approach aimed at the first pair to make it within easy hearing range of the door.
This doesn't slow them and they end up well inside my personal space before they clock that the words were meant for them and I'm not shifting myself out of the way.
The rest of the group stumble to a stop and I continue with a slightly more padded explanation.
"Alright gents, we don't do large groups, we don't do only lads and a few of you have had one to many to get in. Try somewhere else tonight gents."
"You're fucking joking mate. We're of in after some totty."
"No Gents, you're not coming in, we're not the place for you tonight"
First bit of real confrontation, a very assertive negative statement with a dissuading tone after.
The trick is then to gauge the response, without the numbers or the bulk, it's time to get clever. Give them time to hang themselves. There strength in numbers and confidence is also their weakness. They all think it's worth their effort to have a verbal go.
"You're a dickhead." "Get real" "Are you going to stop us?" "Fuck off you knobhead"
By this point you've identified the three or four gobby ones, the three who could be persuaded and the three who will want to keep out of it right until their blood's up.
Just hold the position, keep silent, keep watching, ready to spring if needed. Don't rise and respond, don't manoeuvre to get a better place. If you move to take an upper hand, they'll see it and if they want to just blast past. If you do nothing, they have to get angry or physical against a passive enemy. Not an overt fists up, screaming, red faced opponent, but a mute, immobile, passive obstacle. Most gents don't get it, can't manage to get angry without some escalation. Give it a ridiculous amount of time and they'll fail to find a way in.
Not always going to work, very low effort solution when it does.
Takes some serious patience but better than dancing back to back with your colleague as you keep your guard up and wait for the boys in blue.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I notice you haven't had many comments recently. Please keep up the blogging, it's always an enjoyable read!

Cheers!

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

You're dead right on that one, sir. Most men are working on exactly the same set of fight reflexes as the average chimp is; the fight is all about social dominance, and the rules are hardwired into their brains. Add some alcohol, and Mr Brain takes a back seat and leaves it all to the reflexes.

The reflexes say that the fight has to be a two-way ritual. Challenge, response. Bigger challenge, ruder response and off we go for a rumble. Fail to give the right response and the ritual stalls right there, and they wind back up on step 1 again and usually start giving it mouth to try wind you up. A few drinks inside of 'em and they cannot think to override the ritual and go straight up to fight mode; drunks are actually more predictable than sober people.

The other big factor is how comfortable people feel. That one saved my life one wet, cold, windy miserable April day some years ago. I was working for a bookie at the Grand National, the day that the starter completely cocked it up. First three races, all went OK. Big race, cock-up and the organisers made everyone wait, and wait, and wait some more before declaring the race void.

While we waited, the crowd got to muttering. They were angry at the organisers, but they were somewhere else and we bookies were here and we had their money and weren't giving it back until we knew the result. So they muttered, and groused, and thank all the gods of weather that day was bloody vile; windy, drizzly and cold, cold cold. Had it been a hot day, the piss-heads would've rioted; as it was they were huddled in raincoats trying to stay conscious.

Saved our lives, did that rain.

We ended up giving back every single bet we'd taken on that race, and going home again as the meet was cancelled. You'd think that a few twerps would've lost their tickets or something but no, every single bloody punter queued up for his money back; miserable as sin but we didn't rise to it and they were too wet and cold to kick off. We still turned a profit on the day, even after entry money, fuel and food was taken into account, but those were the days before the National Lottery soaked up all the mug-money and ruined the game.

Adoor Man said...

Spot on Dr Dan,
Without the right social prompts, most folk don't get the opportunity to escalate. There are always the outliers, but I always try and base my approach on the rough similarity of the herd.

Anonymous said...

That was a very good post, thank you.

Old Man

Anonymous said...

Times haven't changed then. Used to work the door at Spats in Bournemouth back in the mid-80's. Difference was, I'm only 5'4"! But found it worked - be polite, firm, and do nowt but wait em out (thanks Mag, for the advice). And being small, I found most people thought twice, too. No idea why, I was 10st dripping wet, and needed to stand still twice to make a shadow. But it worked.

Nice blog, will be back, keep it up.