If you have ever snagged an older sibling’s ID or faked your own, you know that you run the risk of getting caught. Usually, that means dealing with a tough guy in a black T-shirt with his arms crossed. I know because I used to be that teenager too.
But now I’m on the other side. Every Saturday night in downtown Hampton, I stand guarding a very popular local bar and making sure I keep troublemakers away. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like for the bouncer when you hand them your fake ID, well, this is it.
1. It’s expected
Before I start, I just want to make one thing very clear. If you think you’re the only teenager to use a fake, you’re wrong. Any time I see a face that looks a little too young or see someone acting like they are trying to sneak past the bank guards in a heist movie, I suspect fakes.
If I ask you if you have ever driven a car without a license or permit, your answer will most likely be no. But if I ask you if you have had a drink in your underaged years, it will likely be yes. One is treated like a crime and the other as a harmless thing that teenagers do.
Maybe that’s right. Maybe kids should be allowed to have fun before they hit their twenties. However, I’m not a lawmaker; I’m just someone who holds down the fort. I know that fake IDs are going to be a part of the job.
2. I can (usually) sniff it out before you even step up to me
Going off my previous point, here’s something else that needs to be understood. A lot of kids think that they can just pull the wool over my eyes if they act right.
Want to know how I can tell you have a fake before you even take it out? Your eyes. See, any normal person will just look me in the eye or behind me at the club’s insides.
That’s because they aren’t worried about being denied. They got no reason to be. To them, it’s like a TSA check that they just want to get over with.
Now, if you talk about underaged folk, they will do one of three things. They will look down at the floor, bury themselves quite obviously into their cell phone, or just dart their eyes around.
They know that an ID check is a big hurdle for them, so if they get caught, it’s game over.
3. No, I’m not going to call the cops on you
Getting caught is a big demotivator for using a fake ID, and it’s one that we use often to try and scare off as many offenders as we can. However, if I were to call the cops for every fake I find, I would probably piss off the police by the end of the night.
When you get caught with a fake in hand, we just want you to leave. Serving you is against the law and it could land any one of us in trouble.
At the same time, no one’s going to stick around with you while the cops arrive. It’s a waste of time for the bar staff, the police, and me.
Calling the cops is a threat that’s made to scare you off so we can all get back to our miserable jobs. If you refuse to leave, though, we might actually go through with it.
4. I don’t respond to sob stories
As a bouncer, I can empathize with 16-year-olds who just want to have some fun. Believe me, I was there myself once upon a time. That doesn’t mean I’m going to let you just walk past me when I have clearly said no.
It’s not even that it’s a matter of the law. It’s just that I would rather not risk my job for something that silly.
Here’s the thing: even if I let you through, the first one to catch you is going to be the guy who’s serving the drinks.
Either that, or you’re not going to be very tight-lipped and just start mouthing off how you fooled a bouncer.
Anyone on the inside with two functioning eyeballs will be able to tell you are not old enough.
When they find out that I let you through without any resistance, I can kiss my living goodbye.
5. Yes, selling IDs back is a viable side hustle
You might have heard through the grape vine that bouncers will sometimes sell you back your confiscated IDs for a little dough. Guess what? It actually happens. It can be a very lucrative business for a low-wage bouncer.
I haven’t personally done it, but I know plenty of bouncers who will gladly sell you your fake if you spot them some cash. The idea is simple. Say you bought that fake for, what, $80? $100? $120? For anywhere from $60-$90, the bouncer will sell that ID back to you.
To you, it’s a matter of convenience so you don’t have to spend more to get a replacement or wait the extra week or two to get it shipped. To the bouncer, it’s about going home happy with a few extra bucks.
Mind you, not every bouncer does this and especially not the ones working at high-end clubs. However, the ones that do can make it worth their while.
So that’s it for my experience as a downtown bouncer who’s seen his share of fake IDs. If I had to give you one piece of advice, it would be this: when you get caught, just cut your losses and go home.