Remembering Paul Sha
Today I am writing this Blog because not only has it been a while. But, out of respect for one of my former employer's Mr Paul Sha I thought I would honour his late memory. I spent 3 years, several nights a week working the door at one of the most mysterious bars in the Eastern Suburbs.
I knew that Paul was going to die given his erratic lifestyle and about a year ago when he told me that he wanted to sell the business as sales were beginning to wane.
He confided in me to keep his illness a secret. Much like a senior student in their chosen dojo honouring their Master's commitment to privacy, I honoured and respected Paul's wishes even though he was my boss, not my instructor. There were times that I just shook my head and did not understand why he did not take better care of himself. He had one adult son named Jordan, who would visit from China occasionally, but no wife or dependent children. Now, that he has passed I felt I should educate people who don't understand why it is important to respect security guards, and officers and crowd controllers.
In fact I was told in a similar way, like my father did with me in strict confidence a year before the signs of Pancreatic Cancer started to ravage his once strong, solid ox like body. It must, be a rite of passage for men who grew up during wartime to do so, as like my father who served in the Merchant Navy, Paul did serve in the Chinese Army before moving to Australia and running a Travel Agency as well as News Agency. He then took his life savings and reopened up one of the only "authentic" Japanese Karaoke Bars run by a Chinese business man. Try work that one out.
He would talk about his time in the service, and when I was working he would be frequently pacing up and down the stairs of the venue with his pack of Chinese Branded Cigarettes clutched in wrinkled hand, slowly drawing one out and light up just outside the Noodle shop next door over and over again till the venue closed.
So you get an idea of who my old boss was I have put a picture of famed American Political Scientist Francis Fukiyama below as the resemblance between the two was uncanny. I never got a picture of him and I together, but imagine this man pictured wearing a black goose down puffer vest, Hawaiian shirt, Red tracksuit pants and Sandals. That was Paul Sha.
This was his outfit of choice, almost on a nightly basis. Paul was generous at times, sometimes shouting me dinner next door at the Hills BBQ Noodle shop, but as for the way he would run his business he would get upset when I would drink the Red Bull in the bar fridge and chew on Jelly Snakes just to stay awake till 4am, after trying to drown out the echoing noise of tone deaf patrons singing "My Heart Will Go On, by Celine Dion" on loop. When the venue was quiet, and there were not many customers I would be working on this website and writing blogs.
As ridiculous as his choice in clothing may be, it never stopped him from hosting crazy nights out at the Karaoke Bar he managed called Edoya Izakaya, but it also didn't stop an influx of Asian women of all ages to swoon over him like he was Don Johnson from Miami Vice. I had no idea what they saw in him, till I caught on in order to boost sales he would give them discounted liquor and Karaoke Booth time.
This was one of the most unique workplaces one could cut their teeth into crowd controlling, and before starting here I had oddly enough never worked security in a bar environment. In fact this place was a Karaoke Bar. I have distant memories of what Karaoke is supposed to be by belting out a few off key favourites on Singstar, such as Uptown Girl by Billy Joel, Never Tear Us Apart by INXS, Pride by U2 and my favourite Everybody Wants to Rule The World by Tears for Fears in the comfort of a living room in Warrnambool with old friends and a beer in hand. But nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience working here.
One would think upon starting in the field, that you would obtain employment in a conventional bar or pub setting and get a feel for the job before moving into other roles. My first security gig was actually working at The Melbourne Museum, which I loved as it was a safe venue, great personnel and a place of learning.
I never truly understood the pressures of being a bouncer until I began working at Edoya Izakaya. I got this job from another guard I had grown to like named Mark, when I was doing the graveyard shift at the local shopping centre and due to the amount of conflict we would have to deal with almost on a nightly basis, it was like we were Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, except he was Dutch and I wasn't black. We made a great team.
Together we would work the night shift and formed a unique work friend ship. I even as a sign of good will, gave him a gag gift on Christmas and bought him a shoe box filled with cans of Rice Cream (His favourite) and a nice bottle of Rum, as he was quite fond of a drink after work. Showing praise for your fellow guard, means he or she will more then likely have your back, when shit hits the fan.
After Mark left, and was reprimanded by Paul for not letting someone inside because they were his 'friend' and did not show adequate ID (They also were dressed like a school girl), I began to train a replacement named Tyler who has continued to work at the venue and kept it running like a well oiled machine. In fact, since the new owner took over, changed the lay out and business name, it is a far more accommodating venue with minimal problems complete with Sushi Chefs, Updated Karaoke Machine Song Lists, Clean Toilets and Tyler also tells me it is a rather chill place to work a few nights a week.
It would be a safe place to take your family now to, as opposed to the action hero patrons who would power drink till they couldn't stand up often clad in Balenciaga Runners and Anti Anti Social Club Jumpers and Adidas Trackpants, with more bling on them then Cardi B would wear on stage. The sounds of dry wretching and once walking into the toilets and seeing vomit plastered all over the walls like Multi Coloured Porridge are forever etched into my mind.
I used to lose my temper with the male bartenders who had no idea of what a standard drink was let alone RSA. The best staff we had were 3 attractive Korean girls named Anla, Betty and Amber. These girls would often have dinner with Mark and myself after hours and kept us sane as Mark and I used to teach them English when Paul wasn't micromanaging us. It was great to have female friends who enjoyed our company, as opposed to treating us like hired help.
Often Paul would be talking to the patrons in a language I did not understand, with exception of a few choice phrases almost nightly when I was working the door. I would see many beautiful Korean, Malaysian, Taiwanese and Chinese women in large groups with their male friends and partners come to Edoya Izakaya to sing Karaoke or KPop as it is globally known, get drunk and occasionally become quarrelsome till the wee hours of the morning.
In fact, more often then not getting so liquored up I would have to escort them out the venue, or mop up their vomit from the floor with assistance from the bartenders. For $22.50 an hour, which was what I was paid, Paul would definitely be getting value for money as these duties were definitely outside of my job description. He loved my work that much, he wanted me to become a security manager and form my own security company. I did try that with a colleague named Alex, and was ready to set it up, but he pulled the pin out of our partnership, and now I operate solo. I do still work for certain companies, but primarily on a casual basis. My focus will always be now Personal Protection Training.
Being of European background and working the door at an establishment like this certainly had its challenges. I often, would get quizzed by some of the slightly more seedier patrons, that felt didn't belong there and that I should be working elsewhere. Thank goodness I didn't disclose I am a Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioner also, as that would have went down as well as a lead balloon.
My response to this was as follows. "I am just doing a job, what do you do for a living, and would you like me to interrupt you at your place of work?" I would ask. A lot of the patrons then would simmer down and often were students of either Monash or Deakin, or worked in Accounting or Finance.
Karaoke to them was like hitting the local pub after a hard day on a building site or working in a mine shaft in Australian folklore, where a hard earned thirst deserves a nice cold beer called VB. In this case it was Asahi or Heineken and our Flagship spirits Martell and Hennesey, after hours spent studying cumbersome text books and case studies.
The apparent differences in culture were apparent. Australian Pub goers, often enjoy Happy Hour and cheap beers and spirits, but at this establishment, the drinks were very terribly overpriced. This is probably the only place in Australia that sold Jim Beam at $120 a bottle and Jagermeister at $12 a shot. And let us not forget the plates of pretzels and nuts at $27 a pop. Because in the eyes of the customers coming here was an experience and a sign of affluence. On a good night, we would make around $3000 in drink sales alone.
With the seedier patrons, I worked out over time that they used to like frequenting the establishment to do drugs in privacy because more often then not when they booked a room, even though they were being recorded by CCTV the rooms were dark enough to not be caught doing it in public. I would have to regularly check the rooms to ensure they were behaving, and they would get annoyed when I would stick my head in the door.
If they got quarrelsome with me, I would show them the door, and make them pay their bill before leaving. I don't take shit from patrons, and would often ask them to not come back. Most would, scurry away like little field mice as they now know its not a good idea to poke the bear and didn't want to be black listed from the venue. I am normally a quiet, intellectual, articulate kind of guy, but when I have my CC number on or I am training on the mat, I operate on a different level.
Before, I was employed there apparently there was problems with patrons walking out and not paying as well as bar fights and occasional gang activity, slowly sending Paul broke, which is when he felt he needed to hire a private security guard to man the door.
Usually after they left, and the bartenders and I would be cleaning the floor from bottles, stubbed cigarettes, orange peels, cashews, soggy tissues and the like the occasional 'baggie' would make an appearance, or a dishevelled joint hidden beneath the cushions I took the opportunity to ensure my replacement and Mark's was someone who the patrons respected but also knew not to mess with and gave him comprehensive scenario training when no body was around.
More often not, when Caucasian Customers would come in they would wonder why there was a guard on the door at the Karaoke Bar. I always told them it was to comply with Liquor Licensing, but Paul would get upset when I would let foreigners in. I often was asked if the place was a brothel, which it was not.
I had only one bad experience when that happened after a group of 3 men dressed in hoodies, ambushed me at the entrance before closing time as I was closing the door and started to trying to feel up the barmaids and patrons as well as swinging chairs around. It took me about 40 minutes of intense negotiation to make them leave. After they left I called the Police, whether or not they got picked up remains a mystery even now.
My friend Phoebe is a passionate advocate for this cause of ensuring the safety of women and their rights, which is why I thought I would mention this site. I have interviewed her in the blog section, which you can read about by clicking her picture below. She is a strong advocate for HAGAR also so please click the logo at the bottom of this page.
As a man, it is important we learn to respect women, as they have the ability to show us traits like empathy, compassion and understanding. If you might have noticed, by getting to know me or by flicking through my Facebook, I am usually surrounded by women because I prefer their company, and I am honest with them, I find them much easier to talk to then most men.
I am not really interested in Football, Cricket, Drinking, Fishing, Four Wheel Driving and Backyard Mechanics which is what society dictates a man should be interested in. My brother is into most of these things, and with exception of him, I would be hard pressed to find someone else that I connect with outside of some work related friendships. I have an assortment of platonic friendships with women and some have been friends with me over 10 years.
There is no real secret to this, but taking the time to learn effective communication principles has definitely been the key to all this. It also helps to not just focus on a woman's appearance but to get to know her for who she is. If you do this, you would be surprised with the results.
Most men operate differently then me, but I have always stated that its important to be truthful with the opposite sex and be respectful of boundaries. As a result of this, I only have a small group of male friends. Mainly because most of my childhood friends have lives of their own and families to support or we have grown apart. If you are my friend consider yourself blessed as I am particular these days about who I spend time with, now I am my mother's carer outside of my duties.
The lesson in all of this is excessive liquor consumption makes people crazy. I know, because I used to drink heavily as a teenager, and was soon shown that there are consequences. By all means, enjoy a drink but remember to do so responsibly. That is all any bouncer would ask you to do. Nothing more, nothing less. And if you enjoyed reading this article, connect with me and perhaps I can show you the place that drew inspiration for this blog post. I might even shout you a drink!