Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Shoplifting: Case #13 - The Gun

   Normally, police response was not immediate. Neighborhood cops had been primed for months, however, events that night evolved quickly.
   Crime had increased.
   Used to be, we caught a stupid shoplifter once a quarter. Lately, we contacted authorities monthly, if not sooner. More druggies, a nearby reform school, increased gang activity. And casual shoplifters, still completely stupid.
   After Wherehouse began stocking games, gang action escalated. Typical pattern, guys selected 4 - 5 games, approached front registers, then bolted out the doors en masse. District wide, stores were plundered repeatedly. After losing a handsome fortune, the chain discontinued offering pawnshop payouts for our Region.
   Our store was also a lucrative goldmine for the Oreo Cookie Crew. That's what the local cops termed this crackhead trio, two black guys, one white. They burgled after-hours shops up and down Camp Bowie over and over. Smash N Dash experts.
   Usual time, 2:00 AM. Tool of choice, the cinder block.
   Security cameras caught the trio twice already at our location. Cookie member hurled the concrete cinder block through the plate glass, punching an opening big enough for fellow members to squeeze. Those guys were suicidal. Massive shards of plate glass dangled precariously. Sheets often fell after a Cookie member passed through. Heavy plate glass would have sliced them up, sheared off a limb, or cut them in two.
   Oreo Crew didn't think. They did practice outstanding time management, though. Three minutes of looting, specifically DVDs, into the pickup truck, gone.
   Police swarmed within two minutes. Frustrated, and increasingly angry. The cops wanted to nail them. As did the "first notified' manager who had to show up on the spot, then wait for the glass man.
   The police substation was one block from us. They worked on red alert.

   Molly stop-checked a man at the front. Alarms beeped. He held a shopping bag, perhaps she missed a security tag. He also swung a gymbag. I walked up.
   Tonight was one of my rare night shifts. Pat and Stacey were off somewhere, show or wedding, and Joe was at lunch. John stocked the Floor, Molly ran Register, Boone the Listening Center. Boone had been Manager at Hulen for a stint, then quit after he landed a higher paying job. He'd gone back to Hulen when he wanted extra pay, but they wouldn't hire him. While Manager, he scheduled his people split shifts (10:00 - 2:00 followed by 4:00 - 8:00). They hated that, and blocked his return. The Boss hired him as a courtesy, even though he knew ex managers were poor subordinates, forever second guessing and airing their comments.
   I approached. Molly carried our shopping bag through the sensors without incident. The customer continued to flare the alarm. She was stalling him, checking the bottom of shoes for a tag. There were never - ever - tags on the bottom of shoes. It was that gymbag. She knew it, I knew it.
   I loved Molly, she was a darkhorse. Very pretty college girl, quiet around me, always industrious, didn't require a lot of maintenance. Managers did not repeat instructions to her, she worked out Retail problems, worked with the team, worked on her own. Anyone who worked with others, already knows how invaluable, and rare, this type was.
   Molly, smiling, friendly, agreeable, would not let the man pass.
   "Alright, Dude," I smiled, "you got a metal implant in your arm? Maybe a heart pacemaker?"
   Those items never triggered alarms, either.
   "It's the weirdest thing," he threw a sickly smile. "Third store in a row I set an alarm off. These things don't like me."
   "I already walked his CDs through,"
Molly said. "No problem."
   "Got to be his shoes," I smiled, but gave Molly a half wink. "Customers are always stepping on tags," I lied.
   "Well ... " the customer paused, " ... I think I have another problem."
   He cracked open his gymbag. Molly and I leaned over and peered inside.
   Brass colored. Muzzle of a small bore handgun.
   Real? Fake? Cheap piece of crap? Starting pistol? Pellet gun?
   I've seen my share of guns over the years. Believe it or not, I was in ROTC for a few years. I dated girls whose purses concealed. Coworker Derek packed, so did Sherri, so did Sissy. Killwater, a Regular, carried a derringer and sawed off shotgun. I made a cold appraisal, then did something completely and unforgivably shitty.
   I walked away.
   I flashed Molly a serious look, before turning to the customer, now closing his bag.
   "Oh, I doubt that should cause the alarm," I smiled. "Give me two seconds to fix a Listening Center crisis and I'll be right back and we'll straighten this out."
   I strolled to the Listening Center.
   "Boone, give Molly backup for a second, OK?"
   Boone headed up front while I eased behind the Listening Center wall. Dialed 911, explained our situation.
   If anything happened to Boone or Molly I'd never forgive myself.
   Returned to the front. The customer was still waiting. Boone, not knowing a thing, ran register. Molly smiled. If she threw me a look, I didn't catch it.
   Sent Boone back to the Listening Center, moved Molly to the furthest register. I'd taken a huge gamble, and I'd gotten lucky. Damn lucky.
   Started talking to the guy with the gun, stalling, just as a squad car jerked to a stop outside. Two officers hurried inside. I nodded at the gymbag.
   The cops grabbed his bag immediately. Molly and I exhaled.
   "Well, lookee here," one policeman pulled out the brass barreled gun. "Little boys with little toys. What else you got in this bag?"
   DVDs and CD box sets. Over forty items. Unbelievable. No wonder he never ran, the bag was too heavy.
   The other officer frisked him, then turned to me, "Are you the Manager who phoned?"
   I nodded.
   "There's more in his pants. I'm going to have him strip in one of your restrooms. I need an impartial witness."
   Years ago, Greg and Stacey had busted a female who yanked down pants and panties to prove she hadn't stolen anything. Greg and Stacey knew she had taken something, but she had gotten away. Not tonight.
   Three of us squeezed into the Customer Restroom and locked the door. I hated it. Even though the cop was in complete control, if the thief became violent, I'd be trapped in a cramped bathroom with two men and a .45 caliber revolver. I pulled out my lock-blade, popped it, pressed it against my belt.
   "I ain't got nothing. I don't know how those discs got in my bag. That's not even my bag. I was holding it for some guy."
   Steady stream of excuses. Pure bullshit to boot.
   The guy wore baggy nylon pants. The patrolman spread eagled him against the wall and ordered him to drop his drawers. Out tumbled another 20 CD box sets.
   What had I said, that the perp couldn't run from us? Hell, he could barely walk.
   Three more squad cars had arrived. The thief's car was seized, his wife and companions were being questioned. Molly and Boone were giving statements.
   Our visitor had driven from the other side of Dallas to west Fort Worth. To steal. Mall stores, electronic stores. They had triggered alarms but those employees waved them out the door.
   Molly did not.
   Neither did I.
   He'd flashed the cheap knockoff gun to intimidate us. In a friendly sort of way, mind you.
   Molly had been surprised, and wasn't sure if it was real. Yet she trusted me. My non-reaction had been unexpected; the crook never thought I'd call the cops. And the cops had been high alert because of the Oreo Cookie Crew.
   To me, Molly was the real hero. She had stopped the shoplifter, she had held the fort for me while I called the Marines. If she was upset or angry, she never showed it or vented towards me.
   Afterward, everyone reassured me my actions had been cool and swift. Correct.
   I was never convinced.
   I'd taken a calculated risk.
   I had gambled.
   I'd been lucky.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Coworkers: Part 101 - The Massacre

Dear Pepe:

   The storm arrived tonight. The store has been smashed beyond repair. Details later. For now, phone Pat. She left in tears. I already called John, I'm sure he's trying to comfort her. Good luck
   I talked to Pat last night. I let her know she is ALWAYS welcome at my house for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Actually at my mom's house, cause she does the cooking :). She'll be over tonight to watch 24. Or at least she says she will. I'll try to coerce her.
   So what IS the deal? I mean, it doesn't seem like a fire-able offense. Was there something else that got Stacey into trouble? Why fire Pat and Joe, too if they were unaware, unwitting, or at worst unconcerned parties?
   Thanks for being so concerned with Pat. It's great to have friends who care.


   The tale is tangled and convoluted.
   For years Camp Bowie led a charmed life. The Boss was able to attract and keep a core of creative, independent and loyal employees. In many regards, we persisted as a Sound Warehouse independent, a singular enclave. The Boss had been named Manager Of The Year many times, and the store awarded Best In DFW in several polls. We operated our own way, and increasingly surfed outside the rules in order to take care of customers, take care of business, take care of ourselves.
   The Boss kidded me that troubles began after I returned from vacation. While my personal troubles have mirrored that of the store's this year, he's wrong about the beginning. The seeds were cast years earlier, and I bear some responsibility for the disastrous fruition.
   Where to begin?
   Wherehouse ... Gift Cards. USED buys. And this guy here.
   Third year, Wherehouse control. We received USED CDs from the Distribution Center weekly. Generated stickers covered obvious promos. Corporate was selling their promotion discs to juice profit margins. Employees began selling their own CDs for cash or credit. This was shadow zone. Overlords might sweep promos into the DC for extra revenue, yet would they tolerate employees doing likewise? The King often asserts privileges denied the Knave. Ever wary, I began to layer.
   I never sold for cash, I thought it bad luck and bad form. I always sold for in-store credit, loaded the balance on a Gift Card. My colleagues were not blind. After a few months, other employees followed suit. Most of us used the same Gift Card, mine was a Britney card.
   Call us lazy, call us mindless, each of us tended to use the same cards, over and over.
   Busy little cards. Getting hot.
   One of my coworkers churned CDs, legit and promos, into their Gift Card at a furious pace.
   After Wherehouse was acquired, I layered deeper. Set up an online account. From now on, I bought from the Internet store.
   I gave up my employee discount.
   As before, others noticed. Yet they could not give up that discount. 20% off $4.99 or $6.99 was about a dollar. I could let it go. They could not.
   That became their undoing.
Pat told me there was no warning. No counseling. She's still devastated. What exactly happened?
The whole horror story.

   The Boss and I were absent much of October. He had family business and the convention. I went to Britain.
   Prior to that, Stacey was apprehensive, she'd had a premonition. New Owners had taken the reins of Wherehouse. Our store, all stores, were under the lens. If there were new rules and guidelines, we didn't know what they were. Rumors and unsettling predictions washed through the chain.
   The new owner's system tracked everything employees did. Especially employee transactions.
   Employee discounts.
   Trouble descended like a shitload of bricks.
   The Loss Prevention Agent strolled into the store Saturday at 4:00. Interviewed Stacey for an hour. Her Gift Card activity had red flagged. Apparently, there were limits. Stacey was terminated. No written warning. No, "In future, this is how we operate," slap on the wrist. Eleven years service. Gone.
   She departed sobbing.
   Monday, the agent returned. Interviewed Joe for over an hour. Fired. Because he had given his employee discount to a cousin. The most picayune reason. Like you, I had been to Joe and Angela's wedding this Spring. And he just had a new son last week. Didn't matter. I gave him a hug and spoke up at the front with him. By now the agent had escorted Pat into the backroom. The situation was a nightmare.
   Pat later said he pressed her relentlessly. "Did you buy CDs from coworkers? Which coworkers? How many times?" The agent was quiet, polite, and directly in her face. After ninety minutes - - ninety minutes - - she broke down. Pat had purchased a handful of CDs from Stacey six weeks earlier. That was enough. She wandered out of the backroom crying and trembling. Dismissed.
   I've worked with Pat for 13 years. We embraced for a long time. I tried to tell her it didn't matter, that I still loved her. We just held each other. Then she was out the door - - out the store - - just gone.
   Then, it was over. The agent grinned, whistled a little song, disappeared into the dark. He had wrecked three lives, and smashed the store days before Thanksgiving.
   I suspect there is a larger agenda behind this. I don't know why those three were targeted for dismissal except they were all AMs. The Agent did not interview me or JD or John. No one else. Aside from The Boss, all of us have bought and/or sold CDs in the store.
   What was the cruelest, was that Pat, Stacey and Joe were not terminated by the Agent. The Agent ordered The Boss to do the firing.
   This completely killed him.
   For me, I am heartbroken. I feel miserable for each of them, in different ways. It is impossible for me to think clearly since I am emotionally involved. Thank you so much for being there for Pat. With both sons now far away, she is alone. Lonely. We both promised to stay close ... but friends seem to fade away so gently into the night.
   In the meantime - - in the meantime - - Time seems suspended. I am written out, wrenching inside. This was my take on what happened. I reassured Joe, Stacey and Pat that all of this would pass. Right now, it's overwhelming. See you later,
   Thank you so much for letting me know. I feel as if someone just sucker punched me in the gut. I can't imagine how you all are feeling.
   I don't really understand the offense. I thought Wherehouse bought and sold CDs, which is what it sounds like was done. Regardless, I'm appalled that they could let Stacey, Pat, and Joe go with no warning over something as trivial sounding as this appears to be. In a world where loyalty is fast going the way of the dodo, firing this group of employees that had so much experience, personality, and so much to offer reeks of stupidity and a lack of class.
   If you get a chance, could you email me their phone numbers? I'd like to call with some words of encouragement their way. Also, please let me know of an address or a number I can contact to voice my outrage over our friend's firing. I'd love to tell them what a stupid move they just made.
   November has been a really cruddy month. Sharon's passing, this latest round of bad news, and some stuff on my end has made me yearn for an end to this year and a fresh start for next.
   I hope December has started better than November ended. I look forward to seeing you but will have mixed emotions entering "the store." It won't be the same. Still time goes on and I have to believe this will end up working out for the best for everyone. Hang in there and give Zelda my best.


Not much to add, Greg. Thanks for your words. The store is wrecked.
A lot of people have dropped in. Sarah, Sonya, Dan, Dave. Many others have phoned. All have been outraged and supportive. Danny offered to hire The Boss if worst came to worst.
I hope things get better. Shopping season begins in two days. There are so few of us. Most are reeling. Christmas will be bitter.
see you later,

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Coworkers: Part 102 - Kicking The Dog‏

   Everything was broken.
   The store was still bleeding, wound gashed open.
   Yet, we were still here. Hanging on.
   The crew that remained was bare bones. The Boss came from the barely remembered Peaches. I was the last of Sound Warehouse. Mandy was the lone Blockbuster Music hire. J D, Molly, John, and Ryzer were all from the Wherehouse era. Seven people.
   Most of the crew was in shock. The Boss was emotionally drained, firing Joe, Pat and Stacey had been traumatic. I had been upset, but recovered. I was cold, I was shallow. With each passing year, I disconnected more and more.
   Three fresh transfers came to Camp Bowie. These were from the Hulen store which had been closed. Vince, Merrilee, and Crayton. A more cynical person would suspect that the firings of Pat, Stacey and Joe had been premeditated, a strategy to replace three long term, full time workers with short term, part time workers. Reason? Decrease unemployment benefits.
   Vince was hard working, street smart, and made efforts to blend in with his new surroundings. Merrilee was lazy, slower than a frozen waffle, who scratched her backside when you tried to talk with her. After two weeks, she found work at a game store, gave notice, and quit. Of Crayton, we knew nothing. Crayton never showed up for work, never phoned. We never missed him.
   New Owners, or new liars, take your pick, reassured The Boss that our location would stay open for the long term. Meanwhile, their mergers and acquisitions department restructured full throttle. Several months earlier, the liars had already dealt their first hand.
   Of the large, free standing, concept stores (think Sound Warehouse), half had been summarily shuttered within a month. Product was fire sale priced and sold off. Whatever was unsold was boxed up, shipped to the nearest Distribution Center. It didn't matter if a location was weak or strong, if earnings were solid. There was more profit to be made as a tax write off for the current year.
   Stores were worth more closed, than open. Accounting 101.
   The chain was being jettisoned.
   Yet our location would be among the lucky survivors. The liars pledged their word.
   The Boss wanted to believe the liars, wanted to believe the monsters who ordered him to gut his own store. He rallied his Sixties idealism one final time, and charged into Christmas. He was an emotional, generous person, a better soul than I would ever become. I loathed the new owners. They were proof that human waste could be recycled.
   I was pragmatic about finding new employment, especially in light of working retail for over a decade. Also, The Boss relied on me, more than ever now. And I worked with a bunch of young individuals who were being treated like sewage by distant masters. So I signed on to sail the ship to the end.
   Christmas was a dreary blur, not one of the better ones. Molly was promoted to Assistant Manager, which boosted evening business. Molly was a knockout who never coasted on her looks. She stepped up during this period and was a tremendous asset. To be fair, everyone from JD to Ryzer, John to Pam, were dependable and conscientious. From out of nowhere, merchandise flowed in and Camp Bowie turned a small profit.
   Our last.
   Mid January, the liars dealt the second hand.
   Across Texas, other than El Paso and North Richland Hills, all concept stores, stores that had been Sound Warehouse once upon a time, would be closed by end of quarter.
   Camp Bowie was on the termination list.
   Another tax write off.
   In six to eight weeks, our doors would be locked forever.
   Then things got worse.

   Tuesday afternoon, The Boss's day off.
   The latest District Manager marched in, barreled towards the Backroom / Office. I assumed she was launching a meaningless inspection, so I instructed Mandy, John and Molly to straighten the store as needed. Hell. We were still recovering from Christmas. Plus, we were closing. Damn.
   Except I assumed wrong.
   The District Manager From Hell swept into the back and promptly began tidying. Initial targets, the walls. Framed certificates, award plaques, photos, posters. All were yanked down and stuffed into boxes to be trashed. John noted her activity and reported to me.
   I walked into the Office. Didn't utter a word. Just shot this creature the what the fuck look, arms stretched wide, jaw dropped.
   "I'm sorry, but the new company is very strict about appearance and procedures. Examine their Brown Book Protocols. This store is beyond parameters."
   Complete bullshit.
   Every office, doctor - accountant - mechanic - even the lowliest flunkie for the new liars, boasted pictures and certificates. Our signs included Store Of The Year, Best Of Fort Worth, District Winner. Miss Satan wasn't enforcing compliance, she was being malicious and spiteful. And I had a pretty good idea why.
   The woman waited for me to respond. I didn't argue or complain. Instead, I sifted through her selected discards, separating the junk (Fire Inspector's report) from the precious (Manager Of The Year plaque). My prized Britney Spears poster was safe because it hung high near the ceiling. If Miss Satan thought I would rise to the bait, she had the wrong guy. I carried the cargo to my car.
   By the time I returned, she was rummaging through The Boss's desk. Despoiling everything she touched. Letters from customers, label reps, retired company presidents, old employees ... dumped. Crayon drawings by his children when they were young - - into the garbage. Souvenirs, toys, mementos, confiscated paraphernalia, a candy bar, his bottle of aspirin. Clutched and tossed. Finally ... the photo albums. The initial Sound Warehouse album, created and arranged by James, and two smaller albums from the Blockbuster and Wherehouse years. The picture history of all the staff, current and long gone, who passed through. Laughing, crying, screaming. Good times and bad. The memory of the store. Priceless beyond measure.
   Pitched into the trash.
   These were the actions of a coward and a bully. A human cockroach who no longer possessed any humanity.
   I rescued everything and carried cartons to my car.
   By now, the entire shift knew the carnage the District Manager From Hell was inflicting on our store. They were furious beyond belief. Undoubtedly her intention.
   "I just want to walk back there and smack her!" Mandy threatened.
   I held her. "No, you can't do that. You will be fired. Then she will try to justify firing The Boss by extension."
   "I know. I just ... I can't ... " she turned away to hide the tears.
   Molly was extremely upset. She pleaded we phone The Boss. Report the situation. Maybe he would come down.
   That was exactly what I wanted to avoid. Any confrontation. The Boss, if appraised, would undoubtedly hurry to the store. He would be justifiably outraged, get vocal, get fired on the spot. Molly meant well. She was still young, wise to cruelty, yet innocent of corruption. I adamantly refused. I also knew more than Molly. I knew Miss Satan's agenda.
   For weeks, The Boss confided that he and all old school Sound Warehouse and Blockbuster Music store managers were being pressured and intimidated to resign. Those who hung on were entitled to separation packages. New owners did not want to pay.
   Lately, Loss Prevention goons and District Manager stooges had been following orders. And they were successfully giving veterans the boot.
   The District Manager From Hell had simply chosen the wrong day to ambush Camp Bowie. The coldest, most calculating individual was in charge, and I didn't object, provoke or give her a scrap of flesh to gnaw on.
   I protected The Boss's treasures, and silently hoped that woman smashed into a paralyzing car accident.
   The Boss was annoyed with me that evening ... and grateful. He confessed he didn't know how he would have reacted. I knew his nature, though, as did many of you. For better or for worse, I acted in the manner I thought would best protect him.

   All merchandise was placed on sale.
   50% Off.
   Two jackals arrived in a van from across the state line. Personal friends of the District Manager From Hell. The van advertised a ratty record shop from the DM's hometown. Probably why the Wherehouse Music in her own neighborhood folded two years earlier.
   It was suggested we extend special courtesy to them. Why? Had they paid her a kickback? Had they serviced particular needs? That first Monday, The Boss opened a half hour early to accommodate them. Thereafter, I opened the store.
   I did not open an hour early.
   Both jackals were pasty skinned and sullen, oozing the air of entitlement. They repeatedly reminded us they were buddies with Miss Satan, and intimated they would receive an additional discount beyond the 50%. Maybe they thought that would impress us.
   Within an hour, the staff collectively decided to start hating them.
   The first day, the jackals began culling the DVDs, setting aside massive quantities behind the front counter to sort at their convenience. If they caught any employee examining their Fort Knox loot, they sputtered and wailed like speared wild pigs.
   Pat and Stacey phoned.
   Asked if they might be allowed to shop the clearance sale.
   Of course they could. Pat and Stacey were still family, they were just victims in a filthy game.
   Both slipped in one afternoon and browsed quietly. Subdued. Strangers in their old home.
   "Hey, don't I know you?" Vince asked Pat. He had never worked with either girl, but had called often from Hulen. He recognized her voice, and now he a made a mistake.
   "Yes," Pat answered bitterly. "You stole our jobs."
   Vince looked away, feeling terrible.
   Pat was still in pain, and she had lashed out.
   I caught up with her. "Listen, Vince is alright. A good guy. You would have liked him if ..." I gestured emptily. "Vince ... did not ... fire you."
   Pat apologized before leaving. She and Stacey never entered the store again. Vince departed two weeks later.
   For all you Hulen types, Vince did well by us, he stood tall and was not forgotten.
   The jackals piled more and more product behind the counter. Call us biased, but the staff was resentful that outsiders were cherry picking CDs and DVDs that we felt Fort Worth residents should have had first dibs on. We contacted Regulars, told them to bring friends, neighbors, coworkers, everyone, phoned the Friends Of The Library, college radio station KTCU. Word spread around.
   Day by day, Camp Bowie grew emptier, more areas fell dark.
   The store was a dying soul.
   We barely noticed. The death became routine.
   Around this time, an old debt was repaid, and unexpected reinforcements arrived.
   Colby, Rebel and Eric arrived from North Richland Hills and replenished our ranks.
   Years earlier, when Wherehouse purchased the Blockbuster music division, all the Assistant Managers at the North Richland Hills location were fired. Our Assistants temporarily staffed their management team until the situation calmed, and new managers were trained. It was grim irony that they now rode in to return the favor.
   These were quality people, working in a terrible environment, through a nightmare situation. When the closing was over, they would return to their own store, to jobs, while we became unemployed. Still, all three worked well with the crew. Didn't step on toes, were sensitive to our turmoil. In another time, we might have formed friendships.
   The jackals requested help. Could we loan them one of our employees to help pick through merchandise? Or to shuttle their selections from the Floor to the heaps behind the register counter? They wanted a piss ant. We ignored them. Eric, in particular, advised them to shove their CDs up their ass. Eric was accepted as one of us from that point on.
   We despised the jackals and sabotaged them repeatedly. If crazy street people staggered in, we directed them to the jackals, just like we used to do with The Professor. Before the store opened (and the jackals pilfered our location a full week), Mandy restocked plum items back into sections previously browsed. Whenever customers spied some nugget in their trove, we dug it out and sold it to them. During their lunch breaks, we reorganized their inventory. In order to hide noticeable dents, we added surprise classics. Mello P, for instance, was going to a new home. I'm certain the jackals would also appreciate those Macarena and Line Dancing instructional DVDs that JD so considerately found.
   When the hour for checkout finally came, the duo demanded we open two cash registers to speed things along. They were so terribly busy and important.
   We refused.
   They angrily phoned booty buddy, District Manager From Hell, and vented. She strongly advised us to open that second drawer.
   We reminded her that would be a direct violation of the new company's Brown Book Protocols. One customer - one transaction - one register - one cashier. Transgressions would be considered a Loss Prevention issue. We couldn't risk getting fired. And we certainly couldn't risk getting our District Manager fired.
   Fuck the jackals. Fuck Miss Satan.
   Checkout took two and a half hours.
   Never, never, had I seen Molly work so slow.
   After they drove away, she and I laughed our heads off.
   The District Manager From Hell was terminated three weeks later. Most likely, the new company never intended to retain her
   Still, maybe we factored into the decision. Tarnished her credentials.
   It was shake 'n bake, and we helped.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Customers: Part 26 - Trash Can

  Wherehouse is scheduled to shut down in two weeks. This is probably my last little note, guys.
   We no longer have normal customers. Most of the Regulars from Jimmy to Hotmom, from Bucket to Mr. Duncan, have said their good-byes and not returned. Customers are now vultures and jackals. Looking for something cheap.
   Or free.
   Since we're closing, they think everything is free. Most are total shits. Customer Service, they ain't getting.
   What, they're going to quit shopping here? Dear me.
   For those of you who haven't wandered in, the floor is spare and bare. Everything beyond the Listening Bar is empty and dark.
   Anyway, the following happened with Ry. Proof: Sound Warehouse endures, even to the bitter end.
   This guy had already badgered Mandy, then J D. He had to tinkle. "Too many beers for lunch," he boasted.
   The bathroom was not an option. The store was roped off and that included the restroom. Normally, we directed leaking customers to Tom Thumb or Eckhard's.
   This guy was in pain. No, he was a pain, a whining prima donna. Clenching his knees, bent over, demanding access to the forbidden room. He hobbled to the front counter, to Ry, and asked what he could do.
   Humor is poorly received when you're about to wet your pants. So when Ry pointed outside, smiled nicely, and suggested, "Trash can," this was badly received.
   Suddenly the gent didn't have to wee, he had to complain - to Ry, to J D, to Eric.
   As usual with Eric, big mistake. This guy's from the Hurst store. Temp help. He gives a rat's ass about our customers. Maybe all customers, that's the true spirit.
   Anyway, Eric was in no mood for angry whiners. He kicked him out the store. Well ... the customer had interrupted him while he was playing Asteroids on the kiosk.