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.
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October 2013

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