Admittedly, I have an advantage. I’ve worked at several supermarkets, in multiple states. The golden years, as I call them… But I’ve seen some crazy shit happen inside grocery stores. Some as an employee, and some as a customer. Today I’m going to give you a quick rundown of a few memorable grocery-related events I’ve witnessed, and turn it over to you guys. How’s that sound? Let’s get started, shall we?
At a store called Fas-Chek, in my hometown of Dunbar, a woman came in one day, filled her shopping cart to a foot above the rim, and walked straight out the door.
An assistant manager named Skeeter was watching her, because she’d been acting strangely and muttering to herself. When she exited the store without paying, he came down from his elevated pen of filth, and went after her.
Somehow he wrangled her back into the store, but she was already going wild, screaming something about “kumquat money.” She looked a little like KoKo Taylor, the large female blues singer who could love you like a woman, or fight you like a man. And Skeeter weighed about 150 pounds, ten of which was mustache.
He told her he didn’t know what she was talking about — what the shit is kumquat money? — and asked one of the cashiers to call the police.
When she heard that last word, KoKo began screeching like a mountain cat, and running up and down the aisles flailing her arms. Then she balled up her fist and brought a haymaker up from Tallahassee, which connected directly with Skeeter’s left jaw. He didn’t go down, but had the thousand yard stare and wouldn’t remain upright for long.
A few of us tried to come to his aid, but KoKo had already set upon him. She got Skeeter into a bear-hug, and started spinning him round and round — his children’s department shoes repeatedly flying past our astonished faces.
She told the cops her name was Secretariat, and said she’d paid for her groceries with kumquat money — which turned out to be a nickel in the windowsill. Yeah, who the hell knows? One thing’s for sure, though: it wasn’t just another boring day at work.
The Rum Runners
Pennsylvania folk will find this amazing, but in California they sell liquor and beer in grocery stores. I know, I know, it’s difficult to wrap your head around, isn’t it?
Anyway, I was walking into a Von’s store one day, in Canyon Country, and saw some kid running toward me at a full sprint. He was way down an aisle, moving toward the front door, and carrying something like a football.
I’d say he was about 14 years old, and for a second I thought he was going to barrel into me. But he went flying past, and I saw that he was carrying a large bottle of vodka. Once he was in the parking lot he began running a zig-zag pattern, like he was attempting to avoid sniper fire. Then he disappeared.
Nobody in the store seemed to notice this; all the employees were working as normal. What the hell, man? I spotted someone who was probably the front-end manager, and told her what I saw.
“Oh, great,” she said. “Did you see what he had?”
“A big bottle of Absolut,” I reported.
She sighed. “It happens all the time. We don’t know how to stop it. We call ’em Rum Runners.”
Wow. That would take some balls. And they did it so often they earned themselves a jaunty nickname? Who says the kids of today have no ambition or drive?
A Welcome Tragedy
For several years I worked at a Food Lion store in Greensboro, NC, and it was not a positive experience. My co-workers were nice enough, but management was populated by pricks, without exception.
One old guy, who looked like Coach on Cheers, just openly hated my guts. I don’t know why, but he did. He was constantly harassing me, for various unforgivable stockboy infractions. I always wanted to say, “Calm down, fuckface. This is a grocery store in North Carolina. You’re not in charge of national security.” But, of course, I didn’t, for fear of getting my ass kicked by a grizzled old bastard in his 60s.
But one day he and some fancy-pants “senior” stockboy rearranged the entire backroom. They restacked ALL of the overstock, which took hours. They made it so there were little walkways between the stacks, and it was now much easier to find specific items. I had to admit it looked great, and was a thousand times more functional.
No way would I praise them, though. No way in hell. I looked at it, shrugged my shoulders like it was OK; nothing special, but it would do.
I was getting ready to go home, and those two guys were standing there admiring their handiwork, feeling mighty proud of themselves. And something great happened.
I heard a noise, like cardboard being crushed, and turned to see the first high stack falling. It hit the next stack, which crashed into the one beside it. All the way down the line, like falling dominoes, the giant columns of groceries collapsed and exploded all over the floor…
All three of us were speechless, as we watched this unfold. It seemed to go on for five minutes. When it finally ended, I said, “Wow, that sucks. …I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
And as I made my way to my car, it felt like I was walking on sunshine. I’ve never been a religious man, but spent the next few hours sending thank you notes to heaven.
Bored? Try Tampering With Food!
At that Fas-Chek store in West Virginia most of the stockboys were under the age of 24, and harbored an insatiable appetite for mayhem.
I could write a 10,000 word article on the crazy crap that happened there. But I’m almost out of time here. I’ll focus on a very specific mayhem niche: tampering with food.
A guy named David liked to open bottles of ketchup, stuff a tampon down the neck, and return it to the shelf. Can you imagine the reactions of the lucky individuals who purchased those things?
And Bill used to bite the corners off giant Hershey bars, right through the paper and foil, and put them back. Sometimes we’d see confused customers holding one, with the corner missing and big ol’ teeth marks, and everything. Needless to say, this brought us great joy.
But Rocky takes this particular prize. At one point he started taking Sharpies and writing messages across the faces of missing children, on the sides of milk cartons. They’d say DEAD, or FORGET ABOUT IT, or PROBABLY A SKELETON BY NOW. An old lady saw one, and went crazy about it. She raised a big stink, and it was touch and go for a little while. But, as usual, nothing really happened.
And I need to go now. Have you ever seen anything memorable/crazy inside a grocery store? If so, please share it in the comments section below.
I’ll see you guys next time.
Have a great day!
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