Behind the bar: How Aggieville bouncers get through the night

Aggieville shines with rain. (Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

It’s a brisk Saturday night in Aggieville. You’re with your friends, and you decide to head to O’Malley’s Alley. You walk up to the door and it’s time to pull out your ID.

The bouncer, Sam Thomas, looks up from reading a book.

“I try to use that time for my personal development — my professional development,” Thomas said.

Thomas, fifth-year in mechanical engineering, has worked as an O’Malley’s bouncer since May. An Olathe-native, he likes to pass the time between checking IDs by reading books.

A quick sampling of the ones he’s been into recently: “The Go-Giver,” by Bob Burg and John David Mann, and “The Go-Getter,” by Peter B. Kyne. They are “perspective, self-help books,” said Thomas, who described himself as ambitious and “way too optimistic about things.”

“Bringing those things to tangible results, breaking things down, having motivation to keep everything going. I don’t have a whole bunch of personal time, so it’s usually between schoolwork and a lot of tests and projects,” Thomas said. “I’m always busy — kind of a workaholic.”

However, some Aggieville bouncers, like Landon Fossum and Caleb Jones, work differently.

Jones works weekend nights at So Long Saloon, and said his job revolves around “checking IDs and kicking people out.”

He said the most common fake IDs come from nearby states: Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma. They usually have much more distinct, noticeable lines across the mugshot than their legal counterparts.

And, in regards to fakes from Missouri, there’s an “MO” symbol on the card’s bottom-right corner. In the state factory, Jones said, it’s laser-cut.

“But when fakes make it, they stamp it out, and punch through the entire ID,” Jones said. “You can see light through it, and you shouldn’t be able to see that.”

Fossum, a Kansas State alumnus who graduated last May, works weekend shifts at O’Malley’s. He began his job as a bouncer in July. Eventually, though, he was promoted to a new role in which he fetches beer, helps with dishes and oversees the bar, making sure things are under control and nobody is overly intoxicated.

That, Fossum said, is no easy task. It’s usually fairly busy — especially on weekends — and he does his best to keep an eye on patrons. He’s not the only one tasked with doing so. The bar, one of the most popular in Aggieville, employs a number of other bouncers, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

That’s especially true on holidays — like Halloween, when Fossum asked about nine people to leave because they were too rowdy. Usually, though, that number hovers around two per night.

“The biggest concern is them throwing up in the bar,” Fossum said. “Or being drunk and falling down, or messing with other customers.”

It’s all in the name of safety, Fossum said. If he decides someone is putting themself at risk, he finds their friends and explains the situation. If he can’t find the person’s friends, he does his best to find them a ride home.

It doesn’t always go smoothly, though. Some people disagree, saying they’re fine, or that “they’re not too drunk.”

“Sometimes you have to be a little firm,” Fossum said. “What I’ve found, as far as confrontations go, people who are drunk are generally very friendly, very buddy-buddy. So if you keep insisting, they’ll get the point. If not, I’ll talk to their friends who are more sober and I can usually convince their friends to get them to leave.”