Friday, March 31, 2006

Coworkers: Part 82 - Blood For Drugs

   The store was convinced Winston was stealing. Not piddly, random thefts, like nicking a bottle of water without paying, "borrowing" a used CD, then forgetting to return it. Boosting was happening on a major scale. Every week there was shrink of 20 - 40 units. New Release DVD's. Action or Comedy blockbusters. Managers could not pin down who took them, but we knew when they were snatched.
   Days when Winston worked.
   All Managers cast a reluctant eye on him. His hours had been trimmed to 8 per week. He worked second jobs, but two employers had fired him already. Drug buddies found him a job moving furniture; a future appearance in a COPS episode seemed inevitable. All the guys were serious users, Winston part and parcel.
   In my opinion most people messed with drugs, experimented with drugs, or had personal problems with drugs at one time or another. By most people, I mean 90% or higher. Controlled substances, alcohol, nicotine, reefer, prescription medication, pain killers, sleeping pills, happy pills, call 'em what you will. For some souls drugs lost their allure, while others sank deeper in their thrall.
   In-store stoners were generally male, while most boozers were female. The majority of girls could easily drink the gents under the table.
   Winston descended from weed to speed to ice. In a fabulous incident, he and friends were driving to the blood bank to sell plasma. Sticky red pints. Enroute, their car broke down on the highway. One of them got it running, then noticed a flat tire. Spare was pulled, flat removed, and then ... both tires rolled down the embankment and splashed into the river. A passenger who raced down hill in pursuit, fell and broke his wrist. Meanwhile, the tires floated downstream, soon to be claimed by gulls and turtles.
   The guys abandoned the car and hitch hiked towards town. Luck returned her fickle attentions, and a flatbed truck offered four dirty, homeless looking bums a ride. The broken wrist was mended in Emergency, courtesy the taxpayer's dime (in case you wondered where your tax dollars go, Pilgrim). Bum squad scurried to the blood bank, sold their polluted goo, bought meth, scrambled home.
   "Because I was dehydrated, because my bloodstream was low flow, I had the bestest high ever. I thought I was dead, it was wet dream awesome."
   None of those tweakers earned enough to maintain a habit. They couldn't peddle blood for drugs anytime soon. They were cash strapped.
   Furniture went missing when they worked their other job. DVD's went missing when Winston worked at ours.
   Whoever was boosting was notoriously lazy. And stupid.
   They stole primarily from the large end-caps and cardboard displayers. I hatched a plan with Mandy and Pat. Emptied out the cardboard displayers and taped huge red X's on the back interior. Reloaded the DVD's and angled them towards the Listening Center. I then climbed the ladder and began realigning a surveillance camera towards the traps. Pat and Mandy shouted directions until everything was just right. The trap was set. Once a box was emptied, those red X's would jump out. We could rewind security videos and make the bust.
   We did not want to do this. No one, from The Boss down, liked the situation. Yet store shrink in DVD's and games had drawn the eye of the Loss Prevention division.
   The plan never worked.
   Overnight, the stealing stopped. Radar, guardian angel, inheritance. Who knows?
   Winston's hours were cut to 4. Then to every other week. Finally, once a month. This was The Boss's usual method. Keep people on the payroll, but chop hours until they were forced to find work elsewhere.
   Winston gave notice.

   He cleaned up ... eventually ... dumped buddies and habits.
   A couple of times, he asked if the store was hiring.
   We never were.
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