Thursday, January 06, 2005

One Day at the Store

This piece was written in October of 1992. I was working at a liquor store at the time.

It had been a slow and therefore boring day. Four hours left and I was so bored my teeth hurt.

I was sitting on the floor, putting plastic half-gallon jugs of the kind of gin people drink because they can't afford anything else onto the shelf. We reserve the bottom shelf for just that sort of liquor.

The door stood open to let in the summer breeze. I heard Dick say "Hello," and so I knew someone had come in. There was no response, but that was no surprise; only our regular customers are sociable. Some have been buying their weekly bottle here since before I was born.

What I heard next was a real surprise, though. "Put all the money in the sack with the bottle," said a voice that was definitely not Dick's. The statement sounded so cliche` that I thought it must've been a joke. I thought differently as I craned my neck to look over the freezer and saw the gun.

To the utter surprise of myself and his assailant, Dick, in his seventy-four-year-old "Nothing surprises me" manner, told the gunman that he just couldn't do that. Against store policy, you know.

No one saw me as I stood up, so engaged in their all-important conversation they were. From twenty feet away, there wasn't much I could do. My boxknife was mostly useless, and the only guns we had shot nothing more than price tags.

In an act of desperation -- I had to do something -- I let fly with one of the jugs I was holding, hoping to knock the gun away, and followed quickly with the other. The first jug flew wide, wiping out a bourbon display. The second, though, hit home, connecting solidly with the gunman's ear. The gun clattered across the floor and Dick, quick as anything, knocked him on the head with the bottle that was intended as booty.

The failed thief ran, dazed and screaming, out the door and down the street. We never notified the police, they're swamped as it is. The gun, though, resides right next to the cash drawer in a snug little holster. It shoots more than price tags.


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