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Working in retail can be a wild and dangerous place. Many people outside of retail do not appreciate the things that occur nor the efforts these lower paid employees make to help customers. I will eventually write a book, "Customers Suck", but I have other projects lined up first. However, today's posts is about the THREE times I had a gun in my face while working with the public.
At 19-years-old, I was an assistant manager of an Eckerd Drugs. I got paid a whole dollar per hour more than the starting employees, but basically had the responsibilities of running and protecting the store. I dealt with 2 am police calls when the alarm would go off, tried to satisfy customer complaints, and dealt with the register balancing.
One day I got paged by the pharmacist to deal with a screaming customer about a prescription for a controlled substance-- I think it was Percocet. The pharmacist told me the prescription was forged and he refused to fill it. As I approached the customer from behind, I could see a shiny metal gun tucked in the of his waistband. Damn! What to do?
I took the nice guy approach, "That pharmacist is a real jerk, the next guy will replace him in a few hours. Come back at the end of the night, and I will make sure it is filled." We chatted as I walked him to the front of the store. He was fidgeting, it was obvious he was a junkie who needed a fix. When we got near the door, but he had no intention of leaving. Now what?
When he start raising his voice again, I figured I had to do something. I pushed him through the opened sliding glass doors, slamming him to the ground. I closed the bullet proof doors as quickly as I could, and prayed they were indeed bullet proof. I had to rely on the company to know what they were talking about. What proof did I have that they were truly bullet proof?
He whipped out the gun as he climbed erect from the ground, "Give me my pills or I'll shoot you! I will!"
I'm a witch and refused to comply. I pulled the fire alarm, hoping to get the attention of customers outside, ordered an employee to call 911, and said, "It's bullet proof. You can't do anything to me."
He decided to change tactics, "I'll shoot my foot off then! Give me those damn pills or I'll shoot."
"Go ahead, what do I care? It's not my foot."
It was at that moment when I realized just how strong an addict's urges are, and just how screwed up their thinking can be. BANG! He did it, he shot his foot, then begged for me to help him. He was arrested and pleaded guilty. I have no idea what kind of sentence he got.
Fast forward a year. I was now 20 and covering another store whose manager took a week long vacation. The Loss Prevention District Manager visited, concerned about suspected employee theft. He said that one of the employees' register counts was short by $5.60. It was the third time in six months this employee was short. The moron waited until the end of the workday which is when the most money was in the store, then ordered me to open the safe.
He went through all the register accounting paperwork, then asked me my procedure for counting tills. I explained for the third time that I was not the regular manager, and since he was speaking of an incident that happened the previous week, he should return when the manager was back from vacation. Idiot.
As we discussed this, a gunman walked into the store, kicked in the office door and demanded the money in the safe. I looked at the stupid District Manager, "You're Loss Prevention. Prevent this loss." Because Eckerd Drugs was concerned about losing a total of $15 over six months---which could have been a register miscalculating, or an employee unintentionally miscounting..... the store lost $10,000 that night. The man left without shooting. I was smart enough to put a die pack in the bag, so the man was indeed caught. Again, this one pleaded guilty.
The third time a gun was pointed at me, I was older and did not have the feel of invincibility that one does in their youth. I worked in Philadelphia at an auto body shop. It was in a bad part of town, and most business owners carried guns legally. A man came in to retrieve his SUV.... that he rolled over the night before while drunk driving. It was stuck in a ravine, had to be winched and then towed for 15 miles. The bill came to $400, and he refused to pay. It was apparent he was still indeed drunk. From a few yards away, I could smell the vodka on him, and yes--- vodka DOES has a smell to non-drinkers.
He screamed and yelled, but when he pulled the gun out, I hit a silent alarm under my counter. The police walked the beat in our area and always stopped for coffee in the winter or the air conditioning in the summer. I knew they would come quickly. "Give me my car," he demanded.
He had the gun pointed directly in my face, about three feet from me. His eyes darted around, his hands were shaky and his speech was slurred. My mind raced through hundreds of scenarios but I could not decide on one. I hoped to just talk to him until the police arrived. When he start screaming louder, the gun shook in his hand, which really terrified me. My pulse raced.... I thought I was dead for sure. Until....
I suddenly saw a little red dot on his nose. Laser sighting! One of the other managers had a carrying permit and locked this guy in his sights. I gained my courage, "You have a little red light on your nose right now. You look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. If you shoot me, you're dead. Before my body even falls to the ground, your head will explode. So think long and hard about putting down that gun. The red beam circled around the man's body to be sure that he saw it.
He grabbed his stomach and chest, trying to chase the beam the way a cat would. "What? He's really going to shoot me?"
"You're really going to shoot me. What's the difference?" He screamed, and I dropped to the floor behind the counter. I heard the front door open and close, and he was gone. A few minutes later, the police arrived, but there was no sign of the man. We knew who he was, so an arrest warrant was issued and authorities went to his home.
A couple hours later, his wife arrived, called the police and ordered them to search the business. She told them we killed her husband. Now let's get this straight.. if I ever wound up killing a husband and going to prison... I'm sure it would be for killing my own husband, not someone else'.
After a massive search of our property and every vehicle in it, the man came strolling out of a bar across the street. He still had the gun on him when police picked him up. All the while, he screamed that I made him drink. Guess I have a real effect on people, huh?
I hope you enjoyed this edition of "Short & Silly". Be sure to check out my other posts, and please share with your friends.
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