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People outside the bars on Court Street in Athens, Ohio. (Metin Ozisik | For The Post)

Bar bouncers decipher fake IDs, clean up puke and control crowd all in one night

Evan Schmidt was guarding The Pub’s door when suddenly a women — visibly intoxicated after a night out on Court Street, according to Schmidt — stripped off her pants and allegedly sexually advanced on the hulking Ohio senior.

“Hey baby, can you light my fire,” Schmidt recalled the woman saying to him, referring to the classic 1967 Doors song.

“She dumped her entire purse out right in front of Pawpurrs,” Schmidt said. “She was just super nuts, and you can tell she wasn’t all there.”

The woman was eventually hauled off Court Street by Athens Police Department officers.

For Schmidt, who’s been bouncing at the the popular Athens bar since May, it was just another typical Saturday night guarding Athens’ goldmine — its uptown bars. Athens has more than a dozen bars lining Court Street, where Schmidt and other bouncers witness another side of nightlife. 

“I enjoy it. It’s fun. I love the people I work with. Every single person I work with is amazing,” Schmidt said. “There are also downsides. Downsides include dealing with drunk people — drunk people are the worst people on earth."

Being the link between a typical bargoer and the quest for alcohol can be a riveting and dangerous experience.

Zach Hawk — a 6-foot-4-inch Ohio football player tandem with a beard and long hair — used to guard J Bar, one of Athens’ busier bars on weekends.

“Weekends weren’t too bad. It was the weekdays where I had class the next morning. … Sometimes I had an 8:30 or 9 (class) the next day. Just trying to go to sleep still having that pounding in your head,” Hawk said. 

He made $5.50 an hour plus a third of tips from the bar, working late hours and deciphering fake IDs.

Schmidt said The Pub doesn’t give its bouncers much training, but being an integrated media major helps him decrypt fake IDs.

“A lot of pictures you can tell are photoshopped,” Hawk said. “A lot of the color schemes are off. Some of the information on the back of IDs are missing.”

In terms of danger, Hawk recalled when a drunken student punched him in the face, which resulted in Hawk — with blood running down his nose — tackling the man to the ground.

Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said bouncers have to be careful with physical altercation, as using force in any circumstance other than self defense, could potentially lead to assault charges.

“Bouncers have no special license to use physical force,” Pyle said. “They can only defend themselves. But so once they’re in a fight, if someone punches them — which is sometimes the case — they have a right to defend themselves, and when they’re defending themselves, if they choose to get that person out of the bar by force, then that’s probably a different story.”

Pyle said APD's standard protocol for bar fights is usually to warn the parties to “cease and desist” before citations or arrests occur.

“More times in the present day, we’ll get calls of fights and they’re over long before (we arrive), and people are walking in different directions,” Pyle added.

Even if drunken folks slip past the bouncer, fights and damage can happen inside the bar too.

Pigskin bartender Nate Fischer said a young woman once threw a bottle at him after she was cut off from continuing to drink.

“Fest days are the best and worst days because everyone is drunk,” Tori Palivoda, a Pigskin barback, said. 

She and Schmidt added that cleaning up puke around the bar, which is typical during fest season, is never fun.

Hawk and Schmidt questioned why students would even try to cause chaos for those guarding bar doors or employees working inside.

But, it is Athens after all — a Southeastern Ohio town with 23 bars in it.

“I have certain pet peeves and my biggest thing is that guys are always trying to look cool, so they always try to show off and sometimes that means trying to talk back to the bouncer,” Schmidt said. “Which I love it when they try to show off in front of their friends or in front of a girl, because then I just throw them out.”

 Bailey Gallion contributed to this report.


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