oxymoron67: (dino head)
[personal profile] oxymoron67

When I was in my early twenties, I worked midnight shift at a convenience store/gas station in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

Oakland is where both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are located, so my store did a brisk business. Also, between the city cops and the cops from both universities, the store had a fairly consistent police presence.

Midnight shift, though, is a different ball game. I worked from 10:30 pm until 6:30 am. From 10:30 to 2:30, the store was busy. After 2:30, it wasn’t busy at all until around 5:00 am.

I had many regulars, for example, the Bird Lady, who always bought popcorn for the pigeons she fed. She was also an artist, and a pretty good one. (I went to one of her gallery shows.)

Then there were the folks who dropped acid. They would take their LSD and come to the store. They would go up to the snack food aisle and look at the potato chips. Sometimes, they would elbow each other, point and laugh, but, by and large, they just stood there, not bothering anyone, staring at the potato chips.

It was odd the first time, but I got used to it quickly. Plus, they were genuinely nice people when they weren’t high.

The delivery folks were nice, too. The guy who delivered our fresh donuts was ALWAYS baked. The Hostess delivery lady would give me free muffins and cupcakes and the Dolly Madison guy was hot like fire.

So, I spent time with some interesting, friendly people and it was fine. I mean, I wasn’t planning on staying there forever, but, at the time, the job fit my life perfectly.

One night, the post-bar closing rush had ended, and I was waiting on a delivery, when this VERY twitchy guy came in. He was clearly on something.

I was used to dealing with drunk and high customers, so, while I was keeping an eye on him, I wasn’t concerned.

He grabbed a candy bar and came up to pay for it. When I opened the cash register, he reached into the drawer, trying to get the money. I grabbed his arm and slammed his hand in the register.

He stepped back. I figured he was planning to leave.

I was wrong.

He suddenly screamed really loudly and struck a martial arts pose. Then he jumped over the counter, clearly planning to kick me.

I braced myself.

At this point, I had what I call a Looney Tunes moment. You know when Wile E. Coyote is chasing the Road Runner and he slams into a cliff and, sometimes, he slides down the cliff side?

That’s what happened here. He made contact with me, but he was at most five feet, three inches tall and weighed maybe 95 pounds and I was very large and bear-like, even back then. So he just slid off.

Honestly, I barely felt anything.

However, I was angry. This guy attacked me! I was about to grab this guy by the throat and shake the holy living shit out of him when he pulled a gun.

At this moment, my mind split in two. Part of me just went into automatic, figuring that whatever money was in the cash register was not worth getting shot over, so I grabbed a paper bag and stuffed the money into it.

But the other part of my brain was thinking, “Why didn’t you just pull out the gun in the first place? That would have saved us both time and you some embarrassment.”

As I was about to call the cops, a few regulars came in. It didn’t occur to me to tell them that I had just been robbed and needed to call the police.

So, I rang up their purchases. No, really. THEN I called the police. When I looked at my customers, I noticed that they were confused. I explained to them what happened.

They FREAKED. They were all, “Oh my God, we could have walked in on a robbery”. One started hyperventilating. Another was crying.

I just stood there staring at them. I mean, it actually HAPPENED to me, and I wasn’t behaving like this.

While I was trying to calm down my drama queen customers, the city cops showed up. Cops from both universities were not that far behind. Everyone was surprised at how calm I was.

I tend not to react in emergency situations until things are over, but I’m guessing that I was also in shock.

The robber got away with $28.

That next night, I went back to work. I wasn’t really scared that I would be robbed two nights in a row, but even if I had been, I didn’t have a choice. If I wanted to get paid, I had to go to work. Still, the news of the robbery had spread while I was at my apartment, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep*, so when I got to work, some friends were there.

For the few weeks, friends and the police stopped in a lot more frequently than usual. That trailed off, as life went on. And, honestly, that was fine with me. After a while, all that hovering got to be REALLY annoying.

*I didn’t sleep well for several weeks after the robbery. That was pretty much the only aftereffect of the whole thing.

They caught the guy a few weeks later, trying to rob a 7-11. To no one’s surprise, he turned out to be a crack addict. I never did hear how the case turned out.

Date: 2013-06-24 12:40 am (UTC)
ext_224364: (Default)
From: [identity profile] x-disturbed-x.livejournal.com
That is so scary. I'm glad you weren't hurt physically!

The stories you have to tell sure are something.

Date: 2013-06-24 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
At least I'm never bored.

... at least that's what I tell myself when I find myself in another three ring circus.

Date: 2013-06-24 04:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adoptedwriter.livejournal.com
Wow! What a scary experience! Glad you weren't hurt or worse! AW

Date: 2013-06-24 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
It was weird because I didn't actually get scared or upset about it until a few hours after it was over.

Date: 2013-06-24 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] michikatinski.livejournal.com
That you didn't get upset until several hours later makes me wonder about your enneagram personality type. Do you know yours?

Date: 2013-06-25 02:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Nope. I have no idea.

Honestly, I've never even heard of the enneagram personality types before.
Edited Date: 2013-06-25 02:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-06-25 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] michikatinski.livejournal.com
I wrote about it a couple of years ago: http://michikatinski.livejournal.com/64077.html

I find it more helpful than the MBTI personality indicator, personally.

Date: 2013-06-24 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myrna-bird.livejournal.com
What an experience! So many stories in the news of these late night robberies. Glad you came out safely!

Date: 2013-06-25 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Those robberies do happen. I'm guessing that anyone who worked midnight shift for any length of time was robbed.

I knew of several others that it happened to.

Date: 2013-06-24 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] similiesslip.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you are ok. I am glad you have a safer job now.

Date: 2013-06-25 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Yes, I am in a much better place now.

Honestly, back then, I would never have believed that I would be. PArt of me never expected to make it out of my 20s.

Date: 2013-06-24 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
I just stood there staring at them. I mean, it actually HAPPENED to me, and I wasn’t behaving like this.
Even if you weren't in shock, you still probably would have been calmer than the customers. Which makes them seem all the sillier.

“Why didn’t you just pull out the gun in the first place? That would have saved us both time and you some embarrassment.”
Hahahaha! Though he did start with just reaching, and then escalated. I'm sure the drugs made him less rational than most.

I'm glad you made it out safely, AND that your job now consists of a lot of dim and self-entitled students rather than armed drug addicts.

You might want to flip the last two paragraphs. I think you probably mean them to be in reverse order.

Date: 2013-06-25 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Oh, this job is much safer (though several colleagues have had problems with students) and at least as interesting.

No complaints there.

Like I said, at the time, it suited my life. It wouldn't do so now.

Date: 2013-06-24 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] michikatinski.livejournal.com
As usual, I am fond of your storytelling. I don't know many people who have such an abundance of quirky anecdotes to share. You seem to have an endless supply of them, between present-day student stories, past and present family epic stories, and other memorable incidents. Reading you is a little like listening to Prairie Home Companion, except the radio voice is a writing voice. Equally distinctive and memorable, but younger and not stylistically Minnesotan. ;)

I'm glad you survived your convenience store days! <3

Date: 2013-06-25 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Thanks! I enjoy telling these stories... even some of the less pleasant ones.

Yes, I have many stories. The thing is... it's how I cope. I've spent a great deal of time living in CrazyTown, and I had to figure out how to survive there.

Date: 2013-06-24 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Wow, what a scary experience. At least it makes for a good story later?

Date: 2013-06-25 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
It's funny. I wasn't scared until a few hours later. I was in shock and then angry that it happened at all.

Scared didn't happen until I was back at my apartment, trying to sleep.

Date: 2013-06-25 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kajel.livejournal.com
The busy times of your store coincide with the busy times of the ER I worked in way back when. We had regular 'customers' too. My sister was held up at gun point at a fast food job. She was 16 maybe 17. She had to take the key from the manager to open the register as the woman was too shaky to handle it. During the robbery, she treated the whole thing like a regular transaction. She even wished them 'good night'. The scared came later for her also.

Date: 2013-06-26 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
I didn't manage the good night. understand how the scared came later. Part of me just shut down. Not in a bad way, but in a "Let's just get through this and move on" way.

For me, things died down at 2:30 because our bars shut down at 2 am.

Date: 2013-06-25 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jem0000000.livejournal.com
I'm glad you weren't hurt. We've had two robberies at our store since I started working -- both on a different shift -- but the second time, the robber got the manager, and he just took the gun away from him. (This is not standard procedure, but our manager's been in Vietnam and it was this teen kid.) No one's tried since.

Date: 2013-06-26 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Grabbing the gun never occurred to me.

I was fired a few months after this, but I wasn't held up again.

Date: 2013-06-26 07:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jem0000000.livejournal.com
Oh, goodness, that was not a recommendation -- giving them the money is definitely the safest option, and it's what they tell us to do in training.

Yikes. *hugs* But at least you weren't held up.

Date: 2013-06-25 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kathrynrose.livejournal.com
“Why didn’t you just pull out the gun in the first place?

Seriously!

Glad you weren't hurt!

Date: 2013-06-26 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Thanks.

And, yes, that's always bothered me.

Date: 2013-06-26 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kathrynrose.livejournal.com
As the bard said, "Crack is Whack."


Seriously. I have no idea who said that, but it applies.

Date: 2013-06-26 10:26 am (UTC)
ext_80205: a pink haired girl holding a guitar with a broken string (smile :) [Tohru version])
From: [identity profile] meepalicious.livejournal.com
You handled that so calmly! I especially like the detail about how you rang up your regular customers before calling the cops. You're so together to deal with it so cooly! I would have been freaking out. I bet your customers were so up set at least partially because they care about you… Your writing has such warmth and love when you talk about them and the delivery people that probably shines through when you're working.

I'm definitely voting for you this week.

Date: 2013-06-27 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
When the customers came in, I think that I was still flying on autopilot or something and just did what I was supposed to do.

I can't really explain why I did that.

Thanks for the vote!

Date: 2013-06-27 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] majesticarky.livejournal.com
Wow that's scary!! Glad you were ok and he was caught.

Date: 2013-06-27 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
He was caught, but I genuinely don't know what happened after that. I was fired a few months after this incident, and, so never heard about it.

Date: 2013-06-27 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheshire23.livejournal.com
Yikes!

My spouse worked at a convenience store when we met. On the midnight shift. Fortunately, nobody ever came in with a gun, but otherwise the mix of people sounds very familiar.

Date: 2013-06-27 09:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roina-arwen.livejournal.com
I've never been in a robbery, so I don't know how I'd react, but it sounds like you were able to keep a cool head in an iffy situation! Phew!

Date: 2013-06-27 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oxymoron67.livejournal.com
Like I said, I think part of me just went, "Okay, what do I need to do to get through this."

I know afterward, I was in shock for a while.

Date: 2013-06-28 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alyce wilson (from livejournal.com)
Glad you weren't hurt. In stressful situations, it often seems unreal until it's over. I think it's just how our brains work.

Date: 2013-06-30 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] padf00t.livejournal.com
I'm glad you weren't hurt!

Date: 2013-07-01 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kf4vkp.livejournal.com
I tend to remain chill, but would have freaked out later when at home....I don't lose my cool til it's all over...

Date: 2013-07-01 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamsreflected.livejournal.com
that's a hell of an experience. I've come close to being robbed a few times but never at gun point. scary.

Date: 2013-07-02 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agirlnamedluna.livejournal.com
They always say you can never predict how you'll react in an extreme situation like these - shows how calm you were, especially in what you were thinking.

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