Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hypothetical Situation

Imagine for a few moments that you are the owner of a nightclub.

When the club first opened, you had a few patrons. You treated these patrons very well, because they were used to the club across town that wasn't very friendly. You had free drink specials, live music, anything that would make people feel good and proud to come to your club. Everybody got along, so there was no need for any kind of security. They all policed themselves.

Eventually, word spread about your club, and people started coming in droves so you got a couple of bouncers to keep the peace. Not only from your neighborhood and other side of town, but other towns far away, where the people looked differently and had weird customs. Some of these people liked to sing karaoke; not your thing, but its what the people liked so you had a karaoke night. Sometimes underage kids would come in and try to drink, but the bartenders were pretty keen and caught most of them right away.

One day you noticed that the club was so full that you needed to set up someone at the door to check IDs and make sure you didn't let in too many people at one time. There were only enough bartenders and bathrooms, too many people in the club at once could really turn the place into a mess. Then nobody would want to come.

Having the velvet rope out front was great for your nightclub's reputation for exclusivity, and your bouncer had the discretion to keep out anyone who looked like they might be a troublemaker. But to your dismay, you discover that your bartenders had given up checking IDs on anyone who appeared to be under 21. "It's not my job," they would say, "Bill checks them at the front door." Still, you catch the occasional 19-year-old with a beer in his hand and escort him outside.

But now it seems to happen more and more often. One night, one of your regulars tells you, "I know of at least 12 underage kids drinking in here right now." You don't know which ones he is talking about, because you have a large clientele from the ages 21 to 25 and they all look pretty young. As you walked back to the stockroom, you happened to catch a group of youngsters walking in the fire exit in the back hallway.

As they see you, they stop in their tracks, then turn around and run right back out the door. You follow them, but not to chase them. You look closely at the door and discover that the lock is broken. It appears to you that the lock has been broken for some time, but you have no way of knowing how long it has been broken or how many people have been coming in this way, bypassing the ID and occupancy checkpoint at the front door.

Now you have a decision to make. There are several choices, but none of them will satisfy everyone.

Choice #1:
Ignore the lock. As a matter of fact, forget about the guy at the front door, too. Just let anyone in who wants to come in. That's the way you did it when the club first opened. It worked back then, why won't it work for you now? Everyone should be able to drink and dance in your club, regardless of when they were born. It's their right!

Choice #2:
Ignore the lock. You have no evidence that many people know that it is broken. Plus, those kids pay for their drinks, and if you are ever busted for serving minors, you can point to your bouncers at the front door and show that you have been addressing the problem to the best of your knowledge.

Choice #3:
Fix the lock. No new kids will be getting into the club, and the ones that are already in aren't much of a problem. Kids will be kids, a little underage drinking never hurt anyone. Wait, there's a fight up by the bar, you had better go check that out.

Choice #4:
Place at the door one of your bouncers who has been standing around chatting up hotties all night. Make everyone who looks young enough to pass for under 21 go back outside and check everyone's ID again. Except for the 40-year old losers at the bar who are obviously old enough to be there.

What is your choice? Leave a comment and let me know.

By the way, this wasn't about a real nightclub. Purely a hypothetical situation.

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