Working during the Holidays

This is one of two annual End of Year posts before we head out on vacation. Enjoy

We find ourselves at the end of another year and with it the always stressful Holiday season. Shopping, cooking, relatives…and work. While much of the world gets to relax, many people – especially those in retail or the service industry – have to work. It is not fun, but as I explain in the post below, it is a fact of life. Is this a re-post? Yes. Why? Because every year someone – maybe even me – is going to complain about working.

So, here goes:

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with individuals of high integrity, strong work ethic, and exceptional character. I have also had the displeasure of working with slackers, layabouts, whiners, and the occasional ne’er do well. (I will now brush off my own shoulder for the use of such descriptive words…thank you.) When you work the field of security, there are many realities that you have to learn to face – or at least should – at an early stage of your career. The main one is this:

YOU MAY HAVE TO WORK WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK!

As a matter of fact, you will probably have to work EXACTLY when you have something else to do! Security is a profession in which your skill set is in demand ALL THE TIME. When most people are doing something else, you are working. Period. This is especially true during the Holiday Season. During the month of December, there are parties, events, parties, and events…and did I mention parties? They will fall on every conceivable day of the week, but usually on weekends. And definitely on the days that you were expecting to do your Xmas shopping. Or that your grandmother is coming to visit. Or on your “day off”.

First, let me clarify that I am not complaining about working wherever, whenever. It’s my job, I do it. Period. Have I missed out on fun, celebrations, vacations, and holidays due to work? Yes. Will I complain? Possibly. Will I work again if asked? Yes.

EVERY. TIME.

Why?

BECAUSE IT IS MY JOB.

Whenever December rolls around, there WILL be events. And there is a good chance that Security will be needed to work them. Remember, people need to be safe 24/7/365. This is especially true during the Holiday Season when people are known to get a little “loose” at parties or stressed while shopping. And yet, as soon as Staffers start getting scheduled to work, the whining begins:

“Why do I have to work again this year?”

“Bob always gets New Year’s off!”

“But I have a work party to attend!”

Let me break it down for you a little:

Do you want a job or do you want convenience?

Sometimes your job makes your life inconvenient. You aren’t paid to set your own schedule, someone else pays you to work THEIR SCHEDULE. And there is no convenience during the Holiday Season, especially in the service industry. Don’t like things that way? Start your own business. Actually, don’t. Because when you work for yourself, you work ALL THE TIME…especially during the holidays.

If you want time off for the holidays, ask for it in advance.

Way in advance. Like a month in advance. And remind your manager every week until the time you get off. Why? It’s responsible, mature, and shows initiative. Remember, everyone will want the month of December off. Also, you should realize that there is a good chance that you will NOT get Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s off, even if you ask. If you’re lucky, you might get 1 out of the 3. And in reality, if you’re lucky you’ll be asked to work all three because your skill set is in demand.

Sometimes, in life, we have to do things we don’t want to do.

Sorry, that’s just the way it is. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes you eat the bear … and sometimes the bear eats you”. Sometimes you have to work on your birthday. Or your wife’s birthday. Or your boss’ birthday. Or on Xmas eve. Or New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day. If your free time is more important than your job, especially when your job entails random hours and unpredictable situations…you should find another job.

Take one for the team.

No one else can/will/wants to work? Maybe you should step up and show the boss that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be part of the team. I guarantee that if you volunteer to work over the Holiday Season you will get to witness your employer looking simultaneously confused, excited…and impressed.

On the flip side, you can’t act like a whiny baby if you get scheduled to work, you haven’t asked for the time off, and it’s your job to keep people safe. The only thing that acting like that will guarantee is someone else doing your job…once you are fired for not doing it yourself.

So prepare yourself for the Holiday Season. It will be hectic and it will be tiring. The hours will be long, the parties ridiculous, and the lines even worse. Smile, take deep breaths, and remain patient, even when you have to escort drunken Santa out of a bar full of people. But then again, if you didn’t like a challenge, you probably would have chosen another profession…right?

Patron Ejections and Escorts

Over the past few years, I have written more than a few posts on Bar fights, Ejections, over-intoxicated Patrons, and how to How to Minizmize Nightclub Ejections. I wanted to take some time in this post to breakdown ejections a bit more and give you and your crew some more material to ponder.

It is important to remember that many of the Patron ejections you will deal with are cases of over-intoxication. Some of these individuals may be compliant, while others…not so much. Remember, regardless of the level of resistance on the part of the Patron, it is very important that you as a Security Staffer use the minimum amount of force necessary to get them out the door. More resistance on the part of the Patron does not necessarily equal more force on the part of the Staff.

Let’s take a moment to look over what an “escort formation” should look like:

^^^^^ Direction of the Ejection ^^^^^

X (Lead)

3′-5′ spacing

P (Patron)

X (Escort)To the rear and side of Patron, at arm’s length distance

 3′-5′ spacing

X (Follow)

The first position is held by your “Lead”. This Staffer is tasked with two basic assignments: to light the way and to clear the path. You may have noticed that when Patrons are enjoying themselves in an establishment, they can be fairly oblivious to what is going on around them, especially if the bar/club is noisy and crowded. The “Lead” needs to announce – loudly – that they need a clear path! “Coming through, heads up, look out folks, etc.” The wording doesn’t necessarily matter but you need to let people know that you are heading their way.

The Lead should also be no more than 5 feet in front of the “Escort”. This will allow for room to maneuver should the Escort need to restrain the Patron and will cut down on the possibility of the crowd sneaking in-between the Lead and the Escort. In addition to their announcements, the Lead should use a flashlight to light the way and to let people know they are headed in their direction.

The Escort is the key part of the ejection equation. More than likely they are the one who has talked to the Patron being asked to leave and may be supporting them (if they are unable to walk) or restraining them (if they are combative). Their entire focus of attention should be the Patron. The Escort should be walking just behind and to the side of the Patron. If the Escort is not supporting the Patron in any fashion they should be no farther than arm’s length away.

DO NOT stand directly behind the Patron while escorting them out. Should they stop short, turn suddenly, or become violent, a position directly to their rear is not easily defensible. Standing at an offset angle behind the Patron will force them to adjust their stance/gait in order to get to you. This, in turn, will give you the benefit of off-balancing of them AND of protecting yourself from wild swings, elbows, or headbutts.

The “Follow” position is often the most overlooked part of this equation. Their main job is to communicate to the rest of Staff and the Front Door that an ejection is taking place. The phrase, “One coming out, Front/Side/Back Door!” works perfectly and lets the Staff know which exit should be prepared to receive the Patron. The Follow must also deal with those individuals who are interfering with or impeding the Ejection. 95% of the time, when you are ejecting a Patron, their friends want to get involved. If you are lucky, they are just concerned with their friend’s safety. If you are unlucky, they may try to physically interfere with the process. While this is a concern for the entire escort team, it falls on the Follow to provide the physical barrier between the Friends and the Patron/Escort. If necessary, the Follow can call for back-up to help with the ejection process or the Patron’s friends.

Besides providing a physical barrier, part of the Follow’s job is to keep eyes on the crowd as the escort formation moves through it. People reaching out, trying to slip into the escort formation,  or trying to interfere with the Escort: all of this should be handled by the Follow. This means that they are also within 3-5 feet of the Escort at all times. I also suggest the Follow shine their light directly on the back of the Patron’s head. Why? Should the Patron turn, they will get a good dose of unexpected light in their eyes. Will this prevent all problems? No. But it can give you and the team an extra couple of seconds to deal with the Patron while they blink in the light.

During the entire ejection process, the escort team should be talking to each other, moving, and maintaining situational awareness. DO NOT STOP. Stopping provides the Patron more time to argue, allows their friends to catch up, allows the crowd to get involved, and most importantly: impedes your forward progress!

Get moving, stay moving, pay attention, and get out the door.

Until next time…