Getting Booked Into Jail

, , , , , | Right | November 19, 2018

(Years ago I worked in a bookstore, which is now gone. For this part of the story, I’m shelving books while pulling a cart along behind me.)

Customer: “Get out of here!”

(I ignore this.)

Customer: “Did you hear me? I said get out of here!”

(I look around and see a woman who appears to be homeless sitting in a chair at the end of the aisle. She’s glaring at me.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m shelving books. I’m doing my job.”

Customer: “I don’t care! Get out of this section! I don’t want you near me!”

Me: “Then you’re welcome to move, ma’am, but I have a job to do. I’m going to be shelving this section for the next hour, whether you like it or not.”

Customer: “I was here first! LEAVE RIGHT NOW!”

(I calmly turn away from her and shelve the book in my hand. She jumps to her feet and advances on me:)

Customer: “GET OUT OF THIS SECTION! THIS IS MY SPACE! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED HERE!”

Me: “You are in a bookstore, ma’am, and you cannot ‘claim’ any part of our business as your own personal spot.”

(The manager steps around the corner and gets between us.)

Manager: “Ma’am, we allow you to come in from the cold and sit during business hours. We don’t mind that. But we will not tolerate you harassing employees or other customers. This is not your space, and if you cannot be civil, we will remove you from the premises.”

(The woman mutters to herself and chooses to ignore me for the rest of the time I’m shelving. Fast forward to closing time.)

Manager #2: “[My Name], someone went into the bathroom ten minutes ago. Please go chase her out.”

(Since he’s a guy and I’m a girl, I don’t question being asked to clear out the women’s room. But then he says:)

Manager #2: “Make sure she leaves, and don’t let her stall. Be rude if you have to. She’s tried to hide in the bathrooms after closing several times.”

(When I open the door, it’s the same woman, and she has a whole bunch of personal belongings with her. She’s washing her hands, and she has bathroom toiletries lined up around her at the basin.)

Me: “Ma’am, we closed ten minutes ago. Please gather up your things and head to the front door.”

Customer: “I’m not done!”

Me: “Actually, you are. We’re closed, and you need to leave.”

Customer: *fuming* “Fine! But you don’t have to stand in the door.”

Me: “Yes, clearly I do.”

(I stare pointedly at her array of items, which would take her a considerable amount of time to go through one by one.)

Customer: “No, you don’t! Go away! I’ll leave when I’m finished!”

Me: “Ma’am, you can either gather up your belongings and walk out the door, or we can call the police. You cannot stay here, and I have no intention of leaving you alone until you walk out the front doors.”

Customer: “You wouldn’t dare call the cops on me! I’m not leaving until I’m done!”

Me: “[MANAGER #2], CALL THE POLICE! SHE REFUSES TO LEAVE!”

Manager #2: “GOT IT!”

Customer: “How dare you?!”

(She snatches up her things and shoves them roughly into her bag, then storms by me to the info desk, where [Manager #2] is currently on the phone with the police. She berates him loudly for our rudeness, disrespect, and discrimination against her because she’s homeless, either not paying attention or not caring that the dispatcher on the other end can hear every screamed word. When she pauses for breath, the manager taps the speakerphone button and asks:)

Manager #2: “Did you get that?”

Dispatcher: “Yes, sir, I did. Patrol is roughly a minute away.”

(The woman froze and her eyes went wide, as if she finally realized that we weren’t bluffing, and then she spun on her heel and rushed to the door, where [Manager #1] was waiting to lock her out. A patrol car pulled in even as she stood a few feet from the door, screaming about how she was going to call corporate on us for humiliating her. In the end, she was banned from our store, and both managers sent a message to corporate explaining what happened. Since I never heard anything more, I assume the problem ended there.)

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