One Night in a Convenience Store
This Horror Story Comes
without sounding bitter, I found a bitter memory last night that I found necessary to share it with you. And if you should want to compare your feelings with those of my feelings, feel free. No problem. Glad that you are aboard.
I am not planning to exaggerate, over-simplify, or even strain the very fiber of truth to get my point across. It's not that I am being vengeful, hateful, or even hurt. None of the above. I just want to briefly talk about an insignificant thing that happened that not even the Cosmos, as wide and deep as it is, did not care one bit about. That is pretty apathetic. But since I didn't build the Universe, I will hold my tongue--a tough task I might add.
It was Just Another
week night, Thursday to be exact. one of the nights that once lived as a day then turned to night as the workday went on and on thanks to an overload of type to set and a lot of display ads to design. Thus just a minor part of the weekly newspaper business--that took 23 years out of my life in order to keep a roof over my family's head plus the food for them to eat. A common, garden variety life in a very common, less-than-stellar career.
Before you jump the gun, I did not plan or pray for God to execute the things that you will read later in this hub. I was just going to stop at a convenience store that once held a position of pride when the business opened in late 1979, and buy one, singular sense, 12 ounce soft drink which I will not name for I know how HubPages feels about spotlighting brand names. Not this boy. Not again. Just enjoy the flow of this story.
As I Parked Inside
the parking lot, crowded I will say, it was 9:45 p.m. and I wanted a soft drink in a bad way. I was "Jonesing" for that American-manufactured nectar that my body craved. (Now don't you wish that I would tell you the brand name?) The parking lot, small as it was, was not the problem. Nor was the teenage boys and girls smoking cigarettes and some "weed" that filled the air from a couple of cars with the windows all the way down. I try to be as obscure as possible when I visit an establishment at this time of the time because one wrong word, one wrong gesture, and I could get my butt kicked by this gang of "weed"-crazed teenagers who were both high and bored stiff--looking for an innocent butt to kick.
I opened the door, and my eyes were attacked by the store management's various signs that someone had tacked on the wall telling customers that "This store is under 24-hour camera surveillance. Shoplifters will be prosecuted," and "Make sure that if there is a problem on the premises of the store, talk to the store manager (on duty) and fill-out a Complaint Form. Our company will be in touch with you within a 24-hour period." Frankly, I mentally counted at least nine of (these) complaint signs scattered across the store and what made me even more skittish, was I noticed the store manager's name written with a black marker. This told me that there was a huge turn-over with store managers in this convenience store.
All that was on my thoughts was reaching the wall of big coolers which were chocked-full of any brand of soft drink you could imagine. My brand was not that hard to spot. Yeah! I thought. Soon my body would be enjoying that 12-ounce soft drink and I will be headed home. How foolish are the thoughts of someone like me who was about to find out what "terror" can really do.
I Walked to the Check-out
area and was about to pay for my soft drink--that one, 12-ounce, cold as ice soft drink now sitting on the area next to the digital cash register when the store manager, and this will shock you: He was an American. Not that I'm point the Ugly Finger of Stereotypicalism, but you have to admit that most convenience store franchise owners are from India and are super-nice guys. Why am I even writing this? "Alvin," we will call the store manager, walked up, smiled and said,"oh, you will have to wait behind that yellow line over there until I ask you to come and pay for your items."
"What?" I asked, this time very nice.
"Alvin" softly replied, "It is store policy and if the store owners review the video tape that is now taping you and I here and not see me tell you to walk up past the yellow line and pay for the item I can lose my job."
Well, I couldn't have that on my conscience and since I was the only customer in the store, what would it hurt for me to waste more time and follow his store rules and then get my cold soft drink that was now turning warm by the minute.
"Alvin," stood behind his work area fiddling with the cash register. The phone rang. He answered and the conversation did not last long. Thank God! He looked at me as if he wanted me to walk up and pay for my drink.
"What's going on?" "Alvin" asked looking frightened.
"Didn't you want me to walk up here and pay for my drink--you did look at me," I explained hoping that "Alvin" would understand. Still . . .I was the ONLY customer on the store and it was now 10:10 p.m., all of those valuable minutes wasted.
"Sir, please! Stand back over there--past that yellow line or else, I will be fired," "Alvin" said very sternly.
"Sir," I said. "I am the only one here. Why must I keep on standing past this yellow line? I have money in my hand--in fact, this drink costs a grand total of one buck and some odd cents. I will give you this five-dollar bill, pay for the drink, and "Alvin," you can keep the change."
"I am not allowed to do that. Now please. It won't be but a minute and I will tell you to come here and pay for your drink," "Alvin" advised looking to the parking lot now crowded with more wild-eyed teens who were listening to several radio stations and yes, enjoying "weed" and a few bottles of brew. Maybe "Alvin" was afraid that if he or I made the wrong move, this crowd of potential troublemakers might storm the store and you would have total chaos on your hands.
And since our police force consists of only three officers on night duty, four counting the dispatcher, I can understand why "Alvin" might have been afraid.
The Time was now 10:35 p.m., Almost an Hour
had went by and I was feeling more and more like asking "Alvin" for a part-time job--for I knew what was on sale and how much the beef stew cost, so I wasn't that worried. All that I wanted now was a fresh cold drink because the original soft drink was now lukewarm and I can tell you from experience--there is nothing as frustrating than to tear into a lukewarm soft drink.
Suddenly, four male teen's ran into the store like wild dogs and most looked the part with jeans past their butt cracks and smoking cigarettes inside the store that I saw in plain English: "No Smoking Inside This Store. This Means You!" But did they listen? What do you think?
Now "Alvin" not only called me up to pay for my drink, but solidified the gesture with a verbal, "you can come up and pay now," with a half-way smile.
Good ol' "Alvin." I knew if I waited long enough, he would come through with flying colors. As I sat my drink down and with my five-dollars in hand to give to "Alvin," his eyes widened and said, "sorry, sir. You will have to wait behind that yellow line for these customers are ahead of you." I was far more than shocked. Stunned was not the word.
I followed "Alvin's" advice. The wild dogs jumped on his work area and paid for ONE candy bar. ONE, while they continued to curse, laugh in a jackal style of laughing and taking their sweet time.
"Why, oh why didn't 'Alvin' just call the cops?" I said well underneath my breath. I even prayed for an Angel Warrior spoken in the Old Testament to storm down and pulverize these teenage time-wasters and let me get home. I was now exhausted and felt very much like I had been put through a wringer.
The teens left. Finally. The time now was 10:50 p.m. and "Alvin" bless his heart, said for me to come up, past the yellow line and pay for my soft drink.
We both said nothing as I walked to the area near the cash register. As I started for the fourth time to hand "Alvin" my five bucks for my drink, he motioned for me to keep my cash and that as he said, "this one's on me." I almost cried. What a nice guy.
I started out of the door with drink in hand, but while "Alvin" walked away probably to do more convenience store manager stuff, I saw the perfect opportunity to do something for someone who needed a break far worse than me.
I just hoped that "Alvin" found that five-dollar bill that "some customer" must have "lost" on the area near his digital cash register.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery