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Show Highlights

Every float center is going to have a different policy on this topic, but at the end of the day, you’re a business. There can be some potential liabilities on knowingly serving intoxicated floaters. Graham and Ashkahn drop some truth bombs about how to deal with potentially intoxicated customers in a float tank center.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: Today’s question is, “I have a no tolerance policy for coming in intoxicated, but in practice, how should I enforce this?

Ashkahn: Hm, interesting.

Graham: I guess to start with, we have the same policy at Float On, of not coming in intoxicated. This counts for, I assume you mean customers, but we also apply it to staff.

Ashkahn: Sometimes.

Graham: And ourselves.

Ashkahn: Unless it’s like our weekly meeting and then you’re not allowed to be toxicated.

Graham: Haha, that’s not a word. So, first of all, how do you tell if someone is intoxicated? I guess the things that we are worried about kind of inform what our decisions are and how we treat the customers coming in. There is also what you’re intoxicated on and how crazy people are acting.

Ashkahn: Yeah. Let’s start there, because I feel like if someone’s drunk, it’s like what are the easier scenarios? Because it’s pretty hard to hide if you’re drunk. That’s one of those scenarios where you can kind of be like, “All right buddy, have been drinking tonight?”

Graham: Yeah, you smell alcohol on their breath, kind of stumbling when walking in.

Graham: Slurring their words when they get there. Yeah, you got to turn them away. I guess that’s the cutting to the end of all this is, in most cases you just have to put your foot down and actually turn people away, is our base level suggestion. It’s kind of weird because float tanks are so tied to the marijuana scene and, through Joe Rogan, to psychedelics and things like that. I think they have almost this stigma, or a reputation I guess, of bringing in an altered state that other practices don’t perhaps.

Ashkahn: Right. I guess drinking is almost interesting in the sense that I just don’t think even think it would be an enjoyable experience at all, if you were to be drunk in a float tank.

Graham: Yeah, I hear that, there’s no podcasters out there being like, “Man, I went in totally hammered into a float tank and had a spiritual awakening.” That’s not the reports that people are getting.

Ashkahn: It’s also very uncommon. I don’t think a lot of people are getting slashed and going floating. Getting tanked, you could say?

Graham: Getting tanked before you get in the tank, yeah.

Ashkahn: So that one really has not come up too often for us.

Graham: And below that, if someone’s had just a couple of beers or something like that for the night, I’ve also never had any issues with that. Someone going in after having a drink or a couple of drinks is not a problem. So it really is that like actually drunk level.

Ashkahn: And I guess there’s smoking weed.

Graham: Yep, and so we’re in Oregon, where this podcast’s being done and where our float center is, and recreational marijuana is legal. People can smoke at home and come in. I guess people can drink at home too, but it’s in the same category, I guess, as alcohol, as far as legality goes.

Ashkahn: Yeah. That one I haven’t really had any problems with. If someone comes gallivanting in to your shop and is like, “I’m going to smoke this blunt in your bathroom.” You’d have to be like, “No, you can’t do that.” But other than that, most people are just doing whatever they want to do, in that sense, on their own time before coming into our place. It’s pretty hard to tell, there’s not many ways we could stop them. It doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal.

Graham: Yeah, I mean, I guess someone eating a really strong edible or something like that, might be more of a concern than smoking a little pot for us. Just in the sense that it hasn’t hit — they’re not intoxicated yet. If you’re smoking pot and you get to the point where you’re nervous and panicky and you’re just way too stoned, you’re probably not coming in, and if you do then it’s the same thing as just being ridiculously drunk or something, you know?

Ashkahn: Yeah. To me, it’s not really something that you can do anything about or really need to do anything about. There’s no way you can stop it. There’s, I think, people smoking weed all over the place everywhere now. If that’s just their MO, then that’s their MO, and they’re going to do it before coming into float. I have never heard a horror story of like, “Man, this person was so high on weed that they did this in my float center.”

Graham: So I have for edibles, though.

Ashkahn: For edibles?

Graham: Yeah, of people just getting a little too high on edibles and not realizing how strong they were.

Ashkahn: And what happened at the float center? They had a bad experience as a floater?

Graham: Yeah, they had a bad experience as a floater.

Ashkahn: Okay, but that’s different than like, “Man they tore the room up,” or something like that.

Graham: Yeah, yeah, totally. They didn’t die in the float tank or anything like that — they just felt like they were going to die. That was the end of the experience, pretty much.

Ashkahn: I mean, really the crux of this, when we get to all this stuff, like harder than weed and everything, there’s only so much you can actually do in practice, right?

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: Like taking an edible’s a great example — how would you even possibly begin to stop that, right? Someone could eat it before they come into your shop and it won’t kick in till after you’ve given them a walkthrough and they’re in your float tank. You’d have to like start sampling people’s blood or something. Even that wouldn’t do it.

Graham: Which is what we’re moving to at Float On too. Full body cavity search, blood sampling-

Ashkahn: But even a cavity search wouldn’t do it. It’s in their body.

Graham: That’s true. Organ search? Yeah, it’s intense.

Ashkahn: I mean, this is the case with other stuff too, right? We have heard one or two “horror stories” of harder drugs like Ketamine and stuff like that. Often still, in those scenarios, it’s someone who came in sober, went into their float room, did what they were going to do in their float room and then hopped into the float tank, and then had some sort of freak out experience. It’s like, how do you prevent that? Short of literally searching through people’s possessions and doing a cavity search, there’s no way to stop something like that from happening.

Graham: Yeah, and especially things like Ketamine are kind of interesting, because they have such a short duration. Someone could come in sober, do Ketamine in the room, come out sober, and you would have never known, essentially. Again, there’s not only no way to stop it. There’s no way to even know if that’s happening or control for it at all.

Ashkahn: So essentially, there’s really only two spots where you have any decision making or judgment calls to make in this. One is if someone literally just shows you drugs.

Graham: “I’m going to do these and hop in that tank.”

Ashkahn: So that’s scenario one.

Graham: In which case, I still say turn them away, say, “No, you can’t do that,” is the solution to scenario one.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and that has happened to us before — people just showed me the drugs.  And even when it has happened I’m like, “Dude, why would you show that to me? You know that this was a bad idea.”

And then scenario two is the much more difficult one, which is just seeing someone and then you have to make this decision that someone seems intoxicated or doesn’t seem in an appropriate state to get into a float tank.

Graham: And again, I guess there’s even mini scenarios within that, right? There’s the one where someone’s really obviously out of it and not able to focus and is very clearly on something. In which case, turn them away. That’s almost an easy decision.

Ashkahn: But it’s kind of more just like a huge gradient, is the problem.

Graham: Exactly, yeah, yeah. It’s rare, too, that that’s the case. I mean we have had to turn away people that are like almost unable to even check themselves in because they’re tripping so hard or something like that. It’s like, “Okay man” …

Ashkahn: Very rarely. But it’s also  very delicate —. you don’t want to say that to someone and them to not be on drugs, it’s just kind of who they are, you know what I mean? It’s like, how do you make the decision to say like, “Hey, you don’t seem like you’re acting normal”

Graham: Like the, “Oh, are you pregnant?” question that you should probably never ask people. It’s kind of similar for being intoxicated.

Ashkahn: It is very similar to that.

Graham: And I had a friend who had a speech impediment, and a couple of different times he actually got kicked out of bars because they said he’d been drinking too much, and he hadn’t had a single drink, it was just that he naturally slurred his speech. That was always really offensive and frustrating for him. He, at the time of course, would be like, “No, I’m not drunk,” which I guess is what drunks say as well, so it was different.

But it’s the same thing, right? Someone comes in, there’s this gradient and you kind of have to decide that they just don’t slur their speech naturally or don’t have a limp or aren’t naturally spacey or something like that, or just really excited — it’s interesting.

Ashkahn: I guess most people have waivers and there’s something on there where you say I have not taken any drugs or alcohol.

Graham: Yeah, but I mean come on.

Ashkahn: It’s a little bit of protection.

Graham: So let’s just talk a little bit more about that. Let’s assume they’ve signed a waiver saying they weren’t on stuff, but they’re within that weird, nebulous, gradient, where you think that they might be. What do people do then, Ashkahn?

Ashkahn: Shut down, open a different business, and not have to deal with these sorts of questions.

Graham: At least at the Float On, I guess, we teach people to be delicate, but definitely if they feel like someone is on the side of intoxication where it does feel like there could be an issue or they might either accidentally drown themselves or have some kind of issue in the tank or try to pull our conduit off the walls or something crazy, to feel comfortable making that decision. We as business owners also say that we’ll stand beside their decisions, if there are people that they don’t want coming in.

I guess, beyond that, there’s no way to define that gray area. So in my mind, it’s a lot about empowering either yourself or your staff or your business as a whole to use their faculties as human beings and actually make that judgment call for themselves, and also know that the business is going to stand behind them. We’re not going to fire someone if they come back and get angry because we said they were intoxicated, and now they’re trying to sue us, or something, for defamation because they weren’t intoxicated. We’ll still stand behind our employee’s decision, because it’s part of giving them their own authority, or capacity to choose.

And that said, it almost never comes up.

Ashkahn: No, these are pretty rare scenarios.

Graham: Yeah, I mean … Yeah, yeah, gosh, I was going to say a few times a year but I’m not even sure if it’s that, for the amount of time that we have to kick someone out or deny them a float. Like maybe once a year, or something like that. Like once in 10,000+ floats, is what we’re talking about here.

Yeah, it’s a tricky question, I guess.

Ashkahn: I think it is. I think it’s hard to answer in definitive terms, just because it really ends up depending so much on the person and the context. You’re just kind of in that situation, you make a decision to be like, “Hey, have you had any drinks or anything? Because we can’t let you into the float if you had.” I think it’s just comfortably in that gray area where it’s hard to have any set policies or answers or things that will solve these things in the abstract.

Graham: So, hopefully us meandering through this subject has been useful for you. And as always, if you have any other questions, any other hard balls you want to toss at us, you can do that at floattanksolutions.com/podcast.

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