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This Transaction Has Hit The Rocks

, , , , , , , | Right | November 18, 2022

I work as a night supervisor at a grocery store. It’s early afternoon when I oversee one of our newer cashiers having issues with a customer.

The man is maybe in his forties and almost definitely not sober. He is buying a single can of beer, which runs just over two dollars. The cashier gives him his total, and he hands her two dollar bills.

Cashier: “Do you have any change? I need a little more.”

The man digs around in his pocket for a moment and pulls out a handful of rocks, putting them down on the counter. The cashier is startled, but the man just makes a noise and digs around in his pocket some more, pulling out… more rocks, and like four coins mixed in. He sets this down on the counter, too. The cashier hesitantly digs through the rocks for a quarter and hands the man his change and his beer. He swipes at the rocks, getting most of them, shoves them back in his pocket, and leaves, leaving a small pile of rocks behind.

A few hours later, a customer comes in and asks for a supervisor. The other supervisor on shift comes over, as I am about to cover the cashier’s break, although I can still hear the conversation.

Customer: “Yeah, there’s a man in your parking lot yelling some really obscene things. I wanted you to be aware. It’s your call whether you do something about it, though.”

My coworker goes outside to check and then comes in and reports a man standing on the sidewalk — public property. He is yelling mostly nonsense, maybe some rude things mixed in. My coworker phones the non-emergency police line and gives a basic description of the issue.

Eventually, they send someone down to shoo the man away, or he leaves on his own.

Later, around 7:30, a man comes in and asks to use the phone. It takes me a few minutes to recognize him as the man with the rocks from earlier. He is still definitely not sober, and it’s a bit difficult to understand him. He is also, inexplicably, carrying a stack of signs from a drugstore across the street — the long, thin, almost laminate things that get attached to the shelves.

I eventually get that he wants to call a detox/rehab service for some reason, but he doesn’t know their number or their name, just vaguely where they are. I pull out my phone to look it up as he keeps rambling.

Me: “Is it [Detox Company]? Does that sound familiar?”

Rock Man: “I don’t know. I guess.”

Me: “Okay, here’s the number. You can use the phone right here.”

I point to the customer service desk.

Rock Man: “Well, it won’t do any good to call them; I still got my cigarettes. They won’t let me in with my cigarettes. Can I call my mom, instead?”

Me: “Er, sure. You can use the phone and call whoever you need.”

I leave him to his calls and come back a few minutes later to check on him.

Rock Man: “My mom didn’t answer… Wait, what day is it?”

Me: “It’s Sunday, sir.”

Rock Man: “D***, she’s probably at church.”

It is almost 8:00 pm at this point.

Rock Man: “What time do you guys close?”

Me: “Not until 10:00.”

The man dithers around a bit more, mumbling.

Me: “Let me know if you need anything else, okay? Feel free to use the phone again.”

I leave and find my other supervisor.

Supervisor: “You know, that’s the guy who I had to call the police on earlier. He seemed much nicer inside.”

Me: “I didn’t know that, actually. I did, however, know that that’s the dude who paid us with rocks earlier, so that’s cool.”

The man left a few minutes later without further incident. Hopefully, he got where he needed to be.

I did find the stack of signs for the drugstore left outside on a patio table when I did my check at closing.

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