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What A Hero! Sort Of!

, , , , , | Legal | April 23, 2022

I work in a convenience store. Today has been normal in every way. We’re in a low-income housing area, and it’s after payday, so we have our regulars trooping through doing their fortnight grocery and cigarette runs, and everything is going well. We have no one out sick, the industrial oven is running without throwing (too big of) a fit, and our orders for the week are arriving on time. Perfect.

Then, I have my mid-shift break. The store is too small for a staff room or even an internal bathroom. The office is a tight squeeze without anyone in it, and if you aren’t a manager you don’t have authorisation to be in there alone. So, we all take our breaks out in the delivery bay/stockroom. I pull up a milk crate, take out my phone, and surf the web in peace for five of my ten minutes.

Suddenly, a lady appears, rushing through the employee-only doorway into the stockroom. Her eyes are wild with fear, she is breathing heavily, and she looks like a rabbit trying to desperately shake off a pursuing fox. In short, she looked terrified. I jump up and call out to her.

Me: “Hey, are you all right? What’s going on?”

Lady: “Oh, God, no, I… My boyfriend, he’s after me. Please, I think he’s going to hurt me!”

Me: “Quick, over here behind the boxes.”

She runs over and I usher her into the corner of the room behind a towering pile of boxes just delivered this morning.

Me: “Stay there. I’m going to grab help.”

My plan is to run to the front doors, bolt them, and then bell for the manager on duty to get the police on the line and essentially barricade the store. I don’t make it to the doorway before I hear the sound of hurried boots clomping on tile. Whoever this lady’s boyfriend is, it sounds like he is already in the store and closing in fast. Plan B.

I grab the nearest thing to me — a cheap folding chair we never use because the milk crates are safer to sit on — and heft it up onto one shoulder. I plant my feet, take a firm two-handed grip on the chair, and wait for the man to round the corner. I figure the b*****d won’t know what hit him and the bang of contact should alert my manager to come running.

I’m so glad I’m not fast enough to swing the dang thing, though. Through the ceiling-to-floor lengths of dividing plastic flaps emerges a gun — an honest-to-goodness g**d***ed gun, in Australian suburbia!

I barely manage to register the gravity of the situation of bringing a folding chair to a literal gunfight when the man holding the gun also slides through the dividers. It is a cop.

Oh… s***.

He immediately spots me and the gun is now firmly fixed on me. Neither of us moves a muscle for a moment. The folding chair is still over my shoulder in a death grip, and I’m very much aware of how hostile my body language still is when he speaks.

Cop: “What are you doing?”

In probably the dumbest dim-lightbulb moment of my existence, I respond in a shaking voice:

Me: “Uh, well that depends… sir.”

Cop: “On what?”

Me: “Are you looking for your girlfriend?”

Please, for the love of God, say no!

The cop lowers the gun by a fraction and gives me a VERY confused look.

Cop: “No?!”

I then drop the folding chair with a clatter, hands still up above my shoulder, turn my palms out facing him, and side-step so the pathway from him to the woman is clear. This could only be one other kind of situation, then.

Me: “If you’re looking for a woman, she’s over there.”

The cop rushes past me to the now violently screeching harpy the terrified lady from earlier has morphed into. She is screaming how all cops are *bleep, bleep* this and *bleep, bleep* that and I’m just a *bleeping* whats-it and a traitor to women for dobbing her in. The cop gets her on her feet, the gun is holstered, and the handcuffs are pulled out. The woman is then led past me, kicking and screaming the whole way, knocking over stock in all directions. As soon as they disappear through the dividers, my manager comes bursting in.

Manager: “What the f*** was that?! What’s going on?!”

In a calmer voice than I feel by a gigantic margin, I smile weakly at her and reply:

Me: “What’s happening is I’m taking an extra ten-minute break, that’s what.”

It turned out that the woman was resisting arrest following theft and assault. She had run quite a distance to our little cluster of shops and darted into our store hoping to evade the cop on her tail. 

I’ve not had a gun pulled on me again to date, touch wood, but it still surprises me that it was a police officer who did and not an armed robbery scenario.

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