Thursday, November 20, 2008


Ah, today. Where to start? The beginning seems logical. So, I get to work today at 6:00 am and immediately Will starts in. Will is in his mid fifties, and a crustier old guy you won't run across easily. He loves to curse everything that slights him, especially the safe when it spits out old crinkly bills when he tries to deposit them. He does this in front of customers unabashedly, to either their chagrin or amusement. Today, he was cursing Mike C. (one of two Mikes, the other being Mike B.) for leaving the new guy there alone at the end of second shift. 'You tell Terry that Mike C., that motherfucker, left at 9:30 and didn't come back until 10:15. Hell, David (the new guy) was here by himself for 45 minutes, and he doesn't even know how to make safe drops. Tell Terry that that bastard Mike C. didn't even clock out for those 45 minutes. I swear to God we almost got into it, and if he don't watch out, I'll clean his clock'. Well, I was loathe to involve myself in this little spat so I didn't mention anything to Terry. This is between Will and Mike C. Besides, what will Terry do about it? Nothing. He's a spineless turd. Anyway, Will curses some more and eventually the shift change gets wrapped up and he walks out, cursing Mike C. the whole way until his gruff voice is cut off abruptly by the door as it swings shut. Thus starts the day.

So, about an hour later, this guy walks into the store. Young guy, about 20 I'd say, good looking, dressed in a red and grey letter jacket, baseball cap, khaki shorts, and new Nike sneakers. Typical young college kid is my first impression, until he opens his mouth.

'Excuse me sir,' - he's talking to me - 'can you tell me where the Taj Mahal is?'

I stand there for a few seconds, wondering if I heard him correctly. Another customer who is perusing the breakfast sandwiches glances briefly at the guy, then regards me with a 'what the fuck did he just say?' look, obviously reacting to the odd question. I'm just about to reply 'I think it's in India...' when the guy quickly continues:

'I mean, Terrel Hall, Terrel Hall! On the UNT campus.'

Ok, Terrel Hall, Taj Mahal, simple mistake...? So the guy is standing there, blushing and making odd motions with his hands, as if he doesn't know what to do with them. So I tell him that I'm not sure where Terrel Hall is, but direct him towards the campus, which is only a block to the south. I advise him to either just head that way and walk around until he finds it, or just hang out at the store (bad idea) and wait until the college crowd starts to pass through, as surely one of them will know. So the guy takes my advice and hangs around the store.

'Say, did you see the Cowboys game yesterday?' he asks me, as if we're old chums. I tell him no, I don't have cable or any kind of regular TV, and I only watch Netflix movies. Then he asks me if I like to bowl. I tell him that I've only been bowling once or twice, and he proceeds to go on about the league he just joined, that his aunt set him up with, and how his average is 128 after his first couple of games, and do I know anybody who bowls in a league, and would I like to join his league? Well, luckily for me, it got kind of busy just then so I had to demur my reply for the time being. Also, Charles happened to walk in just then (a regular who spends his mornings at the coffee bar reading the paper) and the Letter Jacket Guy becomes his problem. Ryan shows up soon after that and the rush proceeds for about an hour.

Finally, it's about 8:30 and the rush is just about over. I glance over at the coffee bar and see Charles, intent on his paper, nodding every now and then to Letter Jacket Guy as he prattles away about bowling or whatever. Finally, something distracts LJG briefly and Charles saunters away stealthily and out the door, handing me his paper (he does this every morning) with his eyebrows raised and rolling his eyes towards the coffee bar where LJG still dawdles. Thus he makes his escape, leaving me there to deal with LJG by myself. He doesn't waste any time making his way towards me. I look around for Ryan, hoping to pawn LGJ off on him, but he's probably in the walk-in ordering beer or something.

'Say, is there a Radio Shack around here?' says LJG. I tell him that there's one on Carrol and University. 'What time does it open?' I don't know. 'Do you think it opens at 9:00?' I really don't know, that sounds like a reasonable time for them to open. 'Because I'm trying to find something to do until 10:00.' Ryan appears at this time and LGJ asks him the same thing. He replies as I did, and LJG asks him if he knows where Terrel Hall is. Ryan tells him, as he is familiar with the campus. I quickly rush over to the bakery section and start to order, leaving LJG for Ryan to deal with. After a while I look up from my ordering and see LJG walk outside. Ryan approaches me and has this to say:

'Man, that guy is missing something upstairs.' I agree with him. 'He's looking for Terrel Hall. Does that mean anything to you?' I confess that it doesn't. 'Well, Terrel Hall is the psychiatric building on campus. Suddenly it makes sense. Apparently this guy has an appointent with a psychiatrist at 10:00. I become a little apprehensive. I decide then and there to be somewhat nicer to LJG if he comes back in, as I don't want him deciding that he needs to take out his frustrations on 7-Eleven with a 12 guage after his appointment. So, LJG hangs around the store until about 9:30. Every now and then I glance outside, where I invariably see him talking animatedly to customers as they approach the store. Apparently he needs several matching sets of directions to Terrel Hall from a lot of different people because when I ask the customers what he wanted, they said he wanted directions to Terrel Hall. Eventually he gets on his bicycle and leaves and doesn't come back.

So later I'm outside, smoking and sweeping the parking lot. This guy approaches, a regular who comes in every couple of days. I don't really know the guy that well, as our conversations are usually limited to 'Hey, whats up, how's it going, will that be all, yada yada yada'. So, this guy approaches me, glances around furtively, motions me closer, and says:

'Say man, do you like pain pills?'

I stop sweeping. Did I hear him right? Do I like pain pills? Holy shit. It's been... what? At least a couple of years since I've even seen a pain pill. Fuck yeah, I like pain pills! I communicate this to him without delay.

'Do you think, maybe, I mean... is it possible at all, that for a couple of pain pills... do you think you could maybe snag me a package of Bugler (rolling tobacco) for two of these Norcos?'

Hmmm, thought I. Two Norcos for a package of Bugler, which costs about $2.50. The going street price for a 5 mg Norco is about 5 bucks. A decent exchange... so I tell him that yes, I could indeed do this for him - not that I'm going to steal tobacco - I tell him to just give me a minute or two and I'll go inside and payroll it (this means that I charge it so that it comes out of my check).

'Oh, so you'll be straight up with it? Cool man. So, uh... how do you want to do this?'

I tell him to just hang on. Now, technically there is nothing wrong with what I was about to do, according to store policy. It is practically the same thing as 'pay-rolling' cigarettes for The Flower Lady, albeit she usually... correction... NEVER... pays me back with Norco hydrocodones. So, I payroll a package of Bugler, head back outside, and as I'm passing it to him he puts two yellow Norcos in my hand. I'm very familiar with Norcos; these are the same kinds of hydrocodones that my grandmother used to give me by the dozen back in the day. He thanks me profusely and informs me that he has about a hundred more, and do I want any more, he'll give me a good price if I buy in bulk, and asks me what time I get off work. I tell him that I get off at 2:00, but I'll have to hold off on any more for the time being, but that it's not out of the question. So, he gives me his phone number, thanks me again, and leaves. I ponder on this throughout the day, wondering whether or not I should call him and have him meet me at 2:00 so I can buy some more of those Norcos. I finally decide that it would probably be a good idea to leave well enough alone, and that I definitely don't need to be buying any more Norcos from this guy. One time is a cool highlight to the day; more often and I'll definitely wind up with the same problem I had a few years ago.

Anyway, the rest of the day passes uneventfully until right at 2:00. We're rushing through shift change, as the store is full and we have a line back to the cooler.

Beep beep chinga chinga rattle rattle ka-CHING thank you sir SCREECH THUD oh my god, did you see that!!

Huh? I turn my head towards the screeching thud and see a guy who I had just sold cigarettes to sprawled out in the road, under a truck. His leg is under the front left tire. He is howling, the truck is backing up, and people in the store have all whipped out their phones and are dialing 911.

'Holy shit, did that guy just get hit - yeah, he did! I saw it, he was on his skateboard - into the middle of the road - slammed on his brakes and still hit him, he flew forward a couple of feet - leg got ran over, dayum - you calling the cops? Hang on - anybody go see if he's ok - just backed off of his leg, damn look at him lying there - it broken? Probably his leg and his hip -'

Thus went the myriad different conversations in the store, all suddenly and all at the same time. I proceeded with the shift change, glancing outside every now and then, seeing if the guy was ok, but he never got up. He just lay there, moaning, trying to sit up every now and then. After about 10 minutes, we were finished with the shift change, and the cops had just showed up. I debated going over there and presenting myself as a witness, but decided that I should probably keep out of it. The last thing I want is for my name to be put through the police database, what with an unpaid traffic ticket here in Denton and a likely warrant out for my arrest.

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