Ex-Oregon linebacker now defends as bar bouncer
On Halloween he’s dressed up as his alter ego in nerdy glasses and a button-up shirt. On Mardi Gras he’s passing out beads. On Jersey Shore night and game days he’s at the door ushering in excited college kids. This is the life of bar bouncer Robert Hamilton.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night you can find him working at Rennie’s Landing. At 9 p.m., Hamilton shows up to keep the peace. Even with the late hours, he loves his job, saying he gets paid to flirt and hang out with his friends.
“It keeps me young,” the 27-year-old explained. Hamilton said that the mix of students and older, local customers allows him to hang out with interesting people all night.
Part of the reason Hamilton likes his job so much is that he loves his coworkers, whom he considers part of a big Rennie’s family. His coworkers hold him in high esteem too. Clark Engdall, a bartender at Rennie’s, says it is hard to describe Hamilton.
“Rob is bigger and better than one sentence,” Engdall said. Engdall loves sharing shifts with Hamilton and said that the bouncer is really fun and works hard.
“The reason why I’m good at my job is because I can forget about it,” Hamilton said. After three years of being a bouncer he is used to being yelled at by belligerent people, describing that aspect of his job as “adult babysitting.” Hamilton said his least favorite part of the job is “getting cussed out by guys who don’t think they’re too drunk.”
He has also become good at catching under-aged people trying to get into the bar. Some try to pass their I.D. off to the person behind them, others try to change outfits and come back after already being told no, and some people even try to hop fences — but they always get bounced.
Fake I.D.s are not a problem for Hamilton either. There have been multiple occasions where Hamilton looked at a girl, then her I.D., and thought, “You’re cute, she’s cute, but you are two different people.”
Luckily, Hamilton has never had to take extreme measures to remove people from the bar. Bar fights are uncommon, and the customers respect the bar and its employees.
“We keep a good crowd here, which I am appreciative of,” Hamilton said. It doesn’t hurt that Hamilton is a 6’3” ex-Oregon linebacker.
In 2002 the University recruited him from his L.A. high school football team. Hamilton played for the next two years until a knee injury took him from the team in 2004. When he returned to L.A. after studying at the University, he worked in a coffee shop. Working at a bar and a cafe are two very different things, Hamilton said. While he really enjoys the bar setting, he said, “I smelled better to the women when I worked in a coffee shop.”
The smell of a bar doesn’t seem to stop women from flirting, however. Hamilton remembers one occasion where a customer was so drunk that she continuously fell on the floor. Hamilton called her a taxi and tried to help her up to take her out of the bar, but she stopped him to say, “but wait, I didn’t get your number.”
Hamilton is still a loyal Duck fan, going to alumni games and tailgating home games frequently. While basketball was his original sport of choice, Hamilton enjoyed his football days and recently got an invitation to join a semi-pro team next season. He plans to take the offer but also wants to continue working at Rennie’s.
Ian Smith, a Rennie’s patron, said Hamilton is a cool bouncer. He described Hamilton as professional but friendly, always nice and joking around but will not hesitate to do his job if customers gets out of hand.
Hamilton’s customers and coworkers love him and he loves his job, so he decided he wants to stay in Oregon while continuing bouncer work and also cutting hair, just another of his many talents.
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