Slowly Disappear Into The Night  

, , , | Right | January 21, 2020

In the early 2000s, I worked at a donut and coffee shop to pay for college. It was an easy job with good management and coworkers. It was in a small town so I knew most of the patrons and it wasn’t really far from home. I worked the “night shift” from six to midnight all by myself — which, in retrospect, was not the safest work environment for a sixteen-or-so-year-old student but what do you know, I was naive and needed the money. I loved that shift because, after the dinner rush, it was basically dead for the rest of the night and I could do my homework in the back while getting paid. The owner was also pretty laid back and, as long as everything was clean and done, he could not care less about what we did with our time. Pretty sweet deal.

This particular night started like any other: slow and uneventful. I had already cleaned the bathroom and kitchen when, maybe an hour before closing, I had a small rush at the drive-thru. It was nothing I couldn’t manage and everything calmed down with enough time to finish my closing duties. So, off I went doing just that: emptying the garbage cans, throwing out the remaining donuts and coffee, cleaning the prep area, sweeping and mopping, and closing the lights in the bathroom.

I was almost done when I remembered I’d forgotten to get the garbage bag in the bathroom so I opened the door, held it open with one foot so I could see what I was doing because it was dark. Then, I got a phone call from my boyfriend. He had just finished work and was on his way home, not too far from my workplace. He asked me to spend the night and, not having anything to do except another shift at work the next night, I said yes. At the time, not many people had cell phones. My dad and I had those old flip-phones and we rarely used SMS because it was quite expensive. This time, I decided to send one to my dad to tell them I was staying at my boyfriend’s — not a problem for my parents as long as I warn them — since it was late and I didn’t want to wake them up with a regular phone call. I also decided to leave my work clothes in the back because I would not have time to wash them before my next shift.

Finally, I was done. I clocked out, locked the back door, turned off the remaining lights, set the alarm system, and locked the front door. I left, got to my boyfriend’s, watched the beginning of a movie, and went to sleep. 

I’d been asleep for only a few minutes when we heard the phone ringing in the house. My boyfriend’s mother came to tell me it was for me. Weird. It was my dad and he says he was relieved to see I was okay. I told him I’d left him a text to avoid waking him. He hadn’t thought of checking his phone, but he asked me to please call my boss right away. I started to panic a little, wondering what the heck had happened.

When I reached my boss, he really seemed happy to know I was okay and simply told me that we’d talk tomorrow when I came in. As you can imagine, I was not able to sleep that night, wondering what that was all about.

The next day, I came in and everyone laughed when they saw me. They put me in the office in front of the security cameras and told me to watch yesterday’s footage. I saw myself work, and then the rush, and myself leaving. I was perplexed. I didn’t understand what the problem is. My boss said, “Wait for it.” Another hour went by on the tape and we saw a frail old man exiting the bathroom. Yes… someone was still in the shop when I closed!

We could actually see him coming through the door during the rush hour, an hour before closing, and walking to the bathroom. Even during the closing, and after I turned off the lights in the bathroom, no sign of him. No sign when I went back for the garbage can, either! So, yeah, that guy stayed two hours in the bathroom, doing God knows what — everything was clean when we checked — in the dark. Then, we could see him exit the bathroom and sloooooowly walk in the direction of the front door. He was so slow, it was painful. We saw the alarm system being triggered and the lights flashing but the man did not seem to care. He finally got to the doors and tried opening them. They were closed. He shrugged. He then walked back — oh-so-slowly — to the counter, got behind it — without touching anything — and went to the door to the kitchen. We then followed him on the camera through the kitchen, then the back storeroom, and finally to the back door. He removed the metal bar blocking the door — how he managed to raise it with such ease is beyond me — and off he went, never to be seen again.

When the police got there, they found the back door open and my clothes still in the back, and they feared for me. Once they saw the footage, they were left with a lot of questions. We never heard from the guy, and nobody knew him. Maybe it was a ghost…

Since then, the employee book has mentioned, in bold letters, to check every stall in the bathroom before closing and the boss always takes the time to explain to every new employee why, laughing at me the whole time.

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