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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Too Drunk to Bounce?

The press coverage on the preliminary hearing in Madison fireman Scott Johnson's DUI case caught my attention, and not just because it brought the KELO and KDLT station wagons crawling up to Madison to trumpet the 0.098 blood alcohol content revealed by the county's blood test.

Madison city police officer Aaron Talich testified that he first interacted with Johnson the night of the incident at 2 a.m. at Teezer's Bar. Talich was responded to a call about a stolen check card. He spoke with Johnson because Johnson was working security at the bar. Talich saw signs—bloodshot and glassy eyes—that Johnson had been drinking.

Now Teezer's owner Jeff Gates told John Hult of that Sioux Falls paper in a September 19 article that Johnson had been to Sioux Falls earlier in the evening but was sober enough to work. And bouncing and firefighting are two different jobs.

But does anyone else find it... well, alarming that a guy would have two jobs that involve keeping people safe, and that the guy wouldn't make the connection that drinking alcohol might reduce his ability to do those jobs effectively? I have had little interaction with bouncers, and my 150-pound frame automatically disqualifies me from being one, but consider: you're working in a bar. You're going to be dealing with two kinds of troublemakers: folks who've drunk too much and are out of control, and folks who aren't drinking at all, want to make trouble, and may plan to use all their wits to take advantage of one or more drunk people around them. Up against either type of miscreant, wouldn't you want to keep your mental and physical faculties as sharp as possible?

Or look at it from the customer perspective: if I were to visit one of Madison's many fine drinking establishments, and if I were to spend money in proximity of large, strong men who are authorized by the boss to throw me out the door, I'd feel a lot more comfortable knowing those large, strong men are exercising that commercial authority while completely sober.

Or look at it from the boss perspective: if I pay you money, I expect there to be no alcohol in your system while you're on my clock.

But hey, this is Madison, where I still haven't figured out our ethics on alcohol.

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