Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I have been playing games online at Gamerzz in Taylorsville for about seven months now. I've been their unofficial Security guy for most of that time and, as of December 31st of last year, I am their promoter for their Lock-Ins (all-night LAN parties). I got Sky High Party & Pizza and FastKart Indoor Speedway to sponsor the Lock-Ins. This means that they provide passes to their business as door prizes and prizes for tournaments. I also got Dominos Pizza to provide pizza at a discounted price. Right around the time that Club Vortex got shut down, one of the employees at Gamerzz got let go (he got into a fight with one of the owners and I broke it up) so they needed to hire some people to cover his shifts. Another regular at Gamerzz, Finkle, and I got hired.

Let me back up a little bit here. Around the beginning of the year Gamerzz started implementing a "No Loitering" policy. This LAN center, being just a few blocks away from Taylorsville High School and Salt Lake Community College, was a "hang out" for several high school/college age students. This was becoming a problem to the point where sometimes there were more loiterers than customers. Sometimes this group would be so loud that it would be a distraction to the paying customers that were trying to conentrate on their gaming. They would also loiter next to the building. Because Gamerzz is in a strip mall, the owner of the strip mall complained to the owners of Gamerzz about this group loitering next to the building. The employees would have to repeatedly tell this group not to loiter next to the building. The rule (or "guideline") that was implemented around the time that I started working there was that these loiterers had half an hour to either get on a computer or leave the property for the day.

The leader of this group of loiterers is a 19 year old disrespectful, mouthy pothead whose nickname is Rick James. Rick James has, on several occasions, shown disrespect to the employees of Gamerzz by doing things such as flipping them off and arguing with them when they try to enforce the rules. On a couple of occasions we have wanted to suspend him from Gamerzz for a short time to punish him for his inappropriate behaviour but one of the owners, Jared, has not let us do this. He is afraid that if he punishes Rick James then him and his group will no longer come to Gamerzz. Rick James just "apologizes" and continues to be disrespectful. Although some of these loiterers, one of them being Rick James, are actually paying customers on a regular basis, some of them are not.

I worked there two or three days per week for the two weeks following Club Vortex being closed down. During this time I did a good job of enforcing the "No Loitering" policy. The other employees were not as consistent on enforcing this policy. When I got hired at Teleperformance my training schedule conflicted with my schedule at Gamerzz so the schedule was adjusted to cover my shifts. I am now just a back-up.

On Saturday, April 21st I was playing at Gamerzz and there were a lot of loiterers. They were being noisy. After two or three hours Finkle, the on-duty employee at the time, told the loiterers that they had half an hour to get on a computer or leave for the day. Rick James claimed that there were no open computers even though there were. Even if there weren't any open computers, Rick James and the other loiterers know that they can get on a waiting list so that as soon as a computer becomes available they will be the only ones that can log onto the open computers. The fact that they know about the waiting list and had been there for at least two hours but had not got on the waiting list proves that they were not intending to get on a computer. Rick James still wanted to argue and complain as he often does. At this point I told him to not argue with Finkle. Rick James's friend Spencer, who was sitting on a couch near the back of the LAN center about 10 feet from where I was sitting, told me to sit down and play my game.

Let me back up again. A month or two before this incident, I was playing at Gamerzz when Luke came in and told me that there was about to be a fight outside. I ran outside and asked Spencer, who was sitting in his car, what was going on. He said that a group of Polynesians, who were now standing next to their car, had tried to pull him out of his car and beat him up. At this point they got in their car and left. So I came to Spencer's defense when a group of guys were trying to beat him up.

Now back to the story. I told Spencer that he needed to leave now. He refused to leave and again told me to sit down and play my game. I moved closer to him, pointed towards the door, and told him to leave now. As an employee I was telling him to leave. By refusing to leave he was trespassing. He stood up, got in my face, and told me that he wasn't going anywhere. Technically by getting in my face he was threatening me. I told him to get out now. He told me "No" and stuck his tongue out at me. While that wasn't as bad as spitting on me, it wasn't the smartest thing to do. I spun him around, wrapped my arms around his shoulders and dragged him towards the door. At this point Rick James and his group of 6-9 guys rushed me and grabbed me. One of the smallest in the group jumped on me and was hanging from my neck in a futile attempt to throw me off balance. I stood my ground and told them all to get out. Luke, who works there and is friends with these guys, told them to get out too. Finkle, who is also friends with these guys, called the police. All of them, except for Rick James, left the building. Rick James was trying to provoke me to throw him out of the building. I just stood my ground and Luke and I told him to get out. After talking some trash he got out.

After everyone was out, Finkle called Jared, the owner. The police showed up within 5 minutes. We told them what happened. Then Jared showed up and we told him what happened. He then talked to the police and talked to Rick James and his group. After he had talked to everyone he told me that it should not have come to this. I should have called him. I explained that the customers should respect us and we should not have to call him to enforce the rules. I also explained that if we were all consistentt in enforcing the rules and if he hadn't overridden us when we wanted to suspend Rick James then he might respect us more and it wouldn't have gone as far as it had. He told me that if he suspended Rick James then him and his group might not come back. I told him that them not coming back would be a good thing. He explained that if they left, his business would suffer a major loss of revenue. I explained that as long as he let a bunch of troublemakers continue to break the rules and disrespect his employees, it was going to be hard to attract a good crowd. He again stated that it should not have come to this and told us to call him in the future.

Jared then went over and talked to Rick James and his group again. While he was over there Finkle and Luke took Jared's side of the argumnent basically saying that we had to walk on egg shells with these guys because we couldn't afford to lose them as customers. I explained that this "gang" of guys should not be running the shop, we should. They went into the whole "loss of our customers" spiel again. I said that I understood that but said that we had to draw the line somewhere.

Jared came back over and told us that he was going to let them stay. I asked Jared if he was serious and said that they should have to leave for the day, at the very least. They basically tried to jump an emplyee and Jared wasn't going to punish them at all. He said that he was going to tell them that they could either get on a computer or leave. So basically, after loitering for two or three hours, arguing with an on-duty employee, and then trying to jump an off-duty employee, they were just told not to loiter.

In a recent blog post, Luke claimed that I "snapped" and "assaulted a customer by putting him in a chokehold". He obviously doesn't understand what snapped means. Snap means "to suffer a physical or mental breakdown, especially under stress". Just because he doesn't understand the gang mentality and how to deal with a group of guys doesn't mean I "snapped". Just because I chose to physically remove a loiterer that had been trespassed and was challenging me doesn't mean I "snapped". If I had snapped, or lost control, Spencer would have been unconcious, I would have layed those guys out when they rushed me, and I would have thrown Rick James out when he was provoking me.

I didn't put Spencer in a chokehold. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and dragged him towards the door. He wasn't enough of a threat to warrant me putting him into a chokehold. I knew that I could handle him without putting him in a chokehold (click here to read about a situation which did warrant me using a chokehold). Luke's lack of experience with physical confrontation, the loiterers being his "friends" (although I doubt that he spends any time with them outside of work and they don't respect him as true friends do), and his passive nature lead to him making an incorrect assesment of the situation. I like Luke and he has treated me well from the first day that I met him. I guess I just expected a more objective assessment of the situation from one of my co-workers that I have backed up on several occasions.

Rick James and a few of the paying customers from his group have still been coming to Gamerzz but the loiterers have not been there as much as they used to. So, while Jared and the other employees might not like my methods, they are effective.

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