Oonee keh beh maa nareedeh bood...
UCLA police, Patrick Swaze and me
November 27, 2006
After a few failed attempts to raise my earnings to a dollar or two above the U.S. minimum wage, and pulling all kinds of strings through my powerful friends, Hassan the Aashpaz, Reza the Panchargeer, and Fazee Rashtee's older brother Hamdollah (who preferred to be called, Jonothan) , the "Night Manager" at a local nightclub, I was finally offered the big one, the job that would set me aside from all those minimum-wage earning losers: Bouncer at a local night club.
As good as it sounded, I had my reservations.
"I don't want to be a doorman like Hamdollah haa," I told Fazee Rashtee.
"Ehh, I told you baabaa, besh nagoo 'doorman', shaakee meesheh!". Then he cracked and said, "and you need to call him 'Jonathan' there."
Well. He was nice enough to put a good word for me. Those positions were hard to come by. Lights, sound, disco, wild women (plenty of action, I assumed), cool guys, and the best part, $8.25, every hour, in my pocket. I started thinking: "Bah bah,... Haajeet deegeh raft daakheleh aadamhesaabee haa!" American dream is finally coming true for your 'pilgram'!
* * *
Two days later, it was Friday night and my first shift to work. I went to gym that afternoon and got pumped. I had already practiced my frequent used phrases with Hamdollah, as he taught me the phrases in his rashtee accent: "Woolcome to kooloop"
I didn't need his crap. I rented "Road House" and watched it 10 times. I could sooo relate to Patrick Swaze: "You are too stupid to have fun!"
Hamdollah had his own favorite line: "I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."
* * *
Last time I had gone to work at 10 pm, was when I got a job at 7-11. They stuck me with the graveyard shift. I got off at 6 a.m., and it threw my sleep so much off, and made me feel so miserable, I quit the next day.
But this one was different. We'd start late, because they didn't need any bouncer before 10 p.m. We punch in at 10, start kicking people out at 1:30, and close at 2 a.m. Some work had to be done (before leaving and joining girls at after-party!), but we'd be out by 2:30. This is going to be the happiest day of my life, I thought.
And with that thought, I got into my 1985 VW Rabbit and off to work I was.
My shift started and, as my ex-girlfriend would say, "every asshole in America was there". As every hour passed, the confrontations got more heated. The more alcohol was absorbed to the patrons' blood, the less respect they had for us bouncers. And the worst part was, they could do anything and use any item to fight us, but our hands were tied. The punk is 220 lbs., drunk out of his ass, the girl he was buying drinks for just left with another guy, and now he wants to fight somebody. Somebody owes him a girl, I guess.
I got into a few fights where I had to help fellow bouncers kick someone out. That wasn't too bad. I don't care how big you are; there are 4 of us, and you are drunk. You are going down.
Around 1 a.m. there was another altercation. Two idiots were fighting and we had to jump in and separate them. The fight was spreading since both had friends in the club. In the middle of the fight, someone threw a beer bottle. The bottle hit one of our guys in the head and blood start pouring down his head.
In my head's sanctuary, my private Iranian section of my brain, I could not help but thinking of Fereydoon Moshiri's poem:
khooneh paakam, keh dar aan eshgheh to meejooshad o bas
taa to aazaad bemaanee
bar zameen reekhteh baad...
I don't mind my blood being shed. What an honor to get your blood spilled for your "vatan", for your friends, for your "naamoos", but imagine having a scar, and someday, telling people "oh yes, that happened when some punk threw a beer bottle at my head when I was working at a night club, your honor."
All that for $8.25? Not worth it.
That was the last night I worked there.
* * *
You know how great you feel when you hear about an accomplishments of a fellow Iranian? You tell all your American friends: "Anousheh Ansari? She is Iranian. In fact my cousin went to school with her in Mashhad... Miss Canada? Did you know she was Iranian?... Everyone knows Andre Aghasi is Iranian... Versaci? Sounds Iranian... his grandfather must have been Iranian".
Well, I feel like that when I see great police work, and by the same token, it bothers me when my friends on the force abuse their power. Being a police officer, always reminds me of my job as a bouncer: The criminal element can use anything and everything to hurt you, but you can only lawfully arrest him. Go a little soft than it is called for, and you can die, and go a little harder than it is called for, and you are guilty of "police brutality". It's a tough call, having to be made in a very short time. Poor judgment results in dozens of officers dead, and dozens of accidental shootings of innocents suspects by the police, every year.
I am just going to leave you with some points. I Hope it adds to your coming to an even more intelligent position in this issue:
By one account, the UCLA campus police used a stun gun on the student, not a taser. If this is true, it changes things drastically. The taser is totally disabilitating, and the subject has no chance or ability to fight back after that. Using it more than once on a subject should, and does, make a great case for any lawyer to file police brutality charges. Stun gun, on the other hand, is not as powerful in paralyzing the subject. Police around the country use it often. It saves lives, by reducing the chance of law enforcement officer to be shot, or subject being shot by a trigger happy officer who is afraid for his own life.
Additionally, you and I (and most of the civilized world) may find death penalty cruel, and inhumane, but as of now, it is the law of the land, and as long as we have not changed it, it is legal. Not pretty, but legal. The same goes for stun guns.
I hear the poor guy yelling "don't touch me"on the video. Again, I am afraid, as much as of our sympathy he may win, he does not have a legal leg to stand on. It is perfectly legal for a law enforcement officer to touch you and pat you down, provided he has a "reasonable, articulable suspiction" Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), a condition the UCLA officers easily met.
Remember, unlawful and distasteful, are two different things.
* * *
But the icing on this cake goes to some newspapers in Iran. They all condemned "American police's conduct".
Now that is something. Comment