The place: A Nashville Honkey-tonk bar
The time: Sometime after 11:00pm. The specifics are not relevant (or any of your business).
I was making my way to the bathroom.
I had to weave between copious cowboy hats, a multitude of mullets and bountiful bachelorette parties.
When I got to the bathroom, the smell hit me like a heaping scoop of vomit flung with a lacrosse stick.
Fortunately, only the smell hit me.
The actual vomit struck a wall, both sinks, the closest urinal and one of those fancy Dyson “blade” hand dryers. Surprisingly little slid to the floor.
In case you were wondering, the man had apparently eaten a large meal many hours before. He had definitely eaten a lot of corn.
The creator of this culinary-crime-scene was bent over, his hands on his knees and his head hanging low. He wiped tequila and a piece of corn off his thick beard with his plaid sleeve (which, I believe, is a line to a Garth Brooks song).
I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
I turned around to see the biggest bouncer of my life.
There is no way I can adequately describe to you just how big this guy was.
That won’t stop me from trying, though.
If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Andre the Giant somehow had a genetic love child and then that love-child was raised on raw steak and whole milk until he was 25 while working out 15 hours per day every day…
… he would be afraid of this bouncer.
I stepped aside, to allow the bouncer past me.
His plain black t-shirt was several sizes too small.
I had the sudden urge to eat a salad on a treadmill.
Having neither a salad nor a treadmill, I took a sip of my beer instead.
Oh, this is not going to end well, I thought. I’m about to witness a homicide. Several other guys stood around, ready for the bloody spectacle that was about to happen.
The ensuing conversation went something like this:
Bouncer: Hey dude! You having a good night?
Drunk Dude: Uh huh.
Bouncer: That’s fantastic! You seem to have hit your quota on fun, though. You need to leave some fun for everybody else. How about you call it a night and we’ll see you again another time? Do you have friends that can take you home or do you need me to call you a cab or Uber?
Drunk Dude: Ok. Yeah. Umm… Cab.
Bouncer: Great! Allow me to escort you down the VIP hallway to where your chariot awaits. We’ll get you a bottle of water and a Tylenol along the way.
Drunk Dude: Thanks, man… I love you.
Bouncer: I know, buddy. I know.
Drunk Dude: No, really. I mean it…
They walked off together down the “VIP hallway” (i.e. the only hallway) like old childhood friends who had just been reunited by a chance encounter. The band was playing “You’re the Reason Our Kids are Ugly” by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.
The rest of the gawkers left in disappointment.
I stood there in awe of the de-escalation skills of this bouncer.
The bouncer could have easily thrown the drunk dude over his shoulder and tossed him into a back alley. No one would have judged him.
He would have gotten vomit-corn on himself and ticked off someone who had—obviously—spent an enormous amount of money at the bar.
Instead, he was showered in professions of love and admiration.
The bouncer was an artist.
His art was kicking a guy out of a bar without the guy even realizing he was being kicked out.
What’s my point?
Honestly, I mostly just wanted to tell this story.
Also, examples of de-escalation are all around us, even in unexpected places. If we pay attention to the good (and the bad), we can grow our own skills… and become artists ourselves.
Have a fantastic week!