They’re Closing In

, , , , | Right | June 10, 2020

I am working at a home goods and decor store. We close at 9:00 pm, but we are not allowed to shut down the registers or lock the doors until every customer is out of the store.

One evening, around 8:55 pm, I am getting ahead of our closing duties by sweeping around the entrance of the store. The closing manager and one other coworker are at the cash bay checking out the last customers of the day. A massive pickup truck is parked rather close to the entrance with the headlights glaring into the store and the engine left idling. I notice that the driver is a middle-aged male who is looking down at his phone. Since our customer demographic is typically female, I assume he is just waiting in the car for our customers at checkout.

The two customers leave, but they get into a different car and drive away. The manager follows them up to the door to lock it since it is now 9:00 pm. He gestures towards the truck.

Manager: “Is that a customer?”

Me: “I don’t think so. I thought he was waiting for those two ladies, but I guess not. He has been playing on his phone the whole time, so maybe he is waiting for someone from the sports store next door.”

Manager: *Locking door* “Well, it’s nine, and we are officially closed.”

The manager goes to cash out the drawers while my coworker and I finish the sweeping. I am still near the entrance when I hear someone trying to pull open the door, followed by knocking. I look over and see the man from the truck at the door, looking into the store. He starts shouting through the door.

Customer: “The doors are locked!”

Me: “I am sorry, sir, but we are closed.”

I quickly return to sweeping since I know engaging him further will be fruitless. A second vehicle pulls up and another man gets out. He speaks with the first man briefly, then knocks on the window rather abruptly. I look over again and see that he has an online order form pressed against the window. I realize he has come to pick up an online order and possibly misjudged our closing time. I know we can’t help him until the morning since the cash drawers are now out.

Me: “I am sorry, sir, but we are closed!”

The other man says something unintelligible, with eyebrows furrowed and a frown on his face.

Me: “Please come back tomorrow!”

He knocks again, looking me straight in the eye and giving no sign that he is leaving. I immediately go back to my manager at the cash register.

Me: “Hey, [Manager], remember that guy in the truck? It seems that he and a second guy are trying to get into the store. The second guy has an online order form. I don’t think they are going to go away anytime soon.”

Manager: *Rolls her eyes* “Typical.”

She goes and talks to them through the door while my colleague and I continue with our duties. When she returns, she rolls her eyes again.

Manager: “Yep, they are here to get an online order and expect me to reopen the doors so they can pick it up. I told them I can’t since the cash drawer is out. They’re not happy, but they should have come into the store sooner.”

Me: “The other guy was waiting in his car before the store closed! If he had just gone inside, we would have had to wait for them to finish before locking the doors!”

Manager: “I know. They will just have to accept that they won’t get their items until tomorrow.”

We make it a point to finish our closing duties away from the front so they do not attempt to get our attention. After a short interval, both cars leave the parking lot. I quickly use the restroom and when I come out, I am surprised to find that all of the lights are out in the store. This is unusual since turning off the lights is the last thing we do, and we still have not mopped the floors. Illumination from the street lights enables me to see the manager and my coworker standing between the store floor and the stockroom.

Me: “Hey, guys, wha—”

Manager: “SHH!”

I immediately stop talking and listen. There is a loud banging on the back door of the stockroom. We all exchange glances.

Manager: “Their order was for a set of dining room chairs. They are probably trying to get us to open up the back door so they can pick the chairs up from the stockroom. I turned off the lights to send the message that we are closed.”

Me: “I love how they think we are going to open the back door.”

Manager: “I am calling the police. It could be an elaborate ploy to get in after closing and rob us. I know that is unlikely, but I am not taking chances, and they really do need to go away.”

The store is located in an affluent area, so four cop cars show up rather quickly. We report the circumstances to the officers as they fill out a report. The officers verify that there is no sign of the men or their vehicles. The officers are rather friendly and indicate that they will stick around for a bit to make sure the men don’t return. Cheered by this, we finish our closing duties and prepare to leave.

However, as soon as we do leave, we realize all four cops cars are now gone. My coworker and I keep watch as the manager locks the door. At that moment, a car pulls into the parking lot.

Coworker: “[Manager], a car!”

The manager yelps and struggles to lock the door as my coworker and I pull out our phones in preparation to call the police again. We are all tense as the car drives by us and turns around to pull out of the parking lot in the opposite direction. We all breathe a sigh of relief. After we finally lock the door:

Manager: “That was just like a horror movie. Go home before anything else happens!”

Neither the closing manager nor I were scheduled to work the next day, but our coworker was. She later told us that the men came back with a woman to pick up the chairs. Apparently, the first man was there to help the second man transport the chairs in his pickup truck, which was why they came together.

They did not mention anything about the events of the previous night other than to ask very passive-aggressively what our closing time was, and to claim that we closed early that night. Luckily, the store manager brushed off the lie since she knew the details of the story.

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