Average Retail Experience

By Owen Andersen

“I am going to stab you with a knife.” Oops! Shouldn’t have let that slip! 

The woman turns, abhorrence practically leaking from her pores. Her bleached blonde bob cut bounced as her head whipped around. A disgusted shock pours over her botox laden face, the wrinkles of her expression piercing through the layers of foundation. 

     My manager isn’t fazed, he just keeps waddling over. 

“What did you say?” the beast utters, then turning to my manager, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that?” The sharpness of her voice pierces my eardrums as the partials of her voice rise and sink with her fervor. “I know my rights…I have a right to…Your employee…so childish…” Her words fade in and out of reality, dragging through one ear and out the other. Your employee, that’s all I am to this woman. That’s all I always am to these “people.” Three years of retail and I can count on one hand the actual people I’ve served. Everyday, from open to close, I am bombarded by idiotic, subhuman savages with broken marriages and hateful children, hunting for prey; someone to shout out who won’t shout back. 

And I don’t shout. I wait, and I play my game. It takes the average troglodyte 20 seconds to storm from the front counter to the doors, including some last remarks about what they’ll do or just how awful we are. From there, another 30 seconds to flounder over to their 2013 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. Finally, the climax of their daring escape: a nearly ninety degree swerve out of the parking spot their bulky chevy has been eating up, followed by a tire-screeching mad dash out of the strip mall parking lot. Everytime. Like clockwork. 

And everytime, they flash their license plate just enough for me to see it, standing at the windows, staring through the smudged, clapped out glass. I’ve gotten very good at remembering their plate numbers—I turn it into a jingle. I hum it as I walk back to my post, as I write it down on a tear of paper. When my shift ends, I find the plate online. Florida state registry, vehicle info check cites, EpicVIN, it’s always somewhere. 

And I always find it. I rarely drive myself to their houses. If I do, I typically borrow someone else’s car. Mostly, I uber or bus somewhere nearby and walk the rest. The lavishness of these vampire’s mcmansions boils my blood, it makes me want to knock the door down and show them a real public meltdown. But I don’t; I wait. Wait until they’re alone. My favorite method is following them to another store, and when they inevitably combust out of whatever Walmart they were tormenting,  I wait for them to get back into their Chevy. At first, they’re too angry to ever notice me, curled up in their backseat. But when they go to perform their ninety degree swerve, they finally see the employee behind them. For a split second, their eyes widen, their pupils dilate, and the gallish mumbling halts. They get quiet, real quiet. The way a Chihuahua does when it finally notices a mountain lion in  the shrubbery. 

And just as their mouths gape open, I swoop in like a hawk with my chloroform soaked napkin and cover their vast cavities. Between the chloroform and the shock, these heathens usually just outright faint. One way or another, I drag them out to an abandoned shack out in the swampland—my Courthouse I call it, because, for the first time in their lives, these Karens and Darens will receive justice. 

And once I’m finished, I dice them up like I’m Bobby Flay and take their bits out to the Everglades. Between the gators and the pythons, they’ll never be found again. One of the few benefits of living in the sunshine state; Florida’s only good if you’re a serial killer. Three years of this. Thirty dumped, zero found. Like clockwork. 

But not for this lady. No, my plan needs adjustment. Your employee. Something about that sticks to me like molasse in the Great Molasses Flood of Boston, 1919. I’ve never tried it this way before, my reckless abandon may just end my run. I don’t care. I want this lady to feel scared in her own home, I want to violate that security.  Before I let the gators have their snack, I am going to stab her with a knife. 

My shift’s over, I’m following her now. It won’t be long… 

Her house isn’t lavish, it’s downright royal. Her street looks like artwork, an aristocratic line up of multi-million dollar estates. The moon glistens my walk up to her property, shrouded by the hood of my black zip up. While I was waiting, I saw a back door through the window without an auto-lock. I didn’t see anybody come lock it either—my entrance appears… 

I slink in, tip toeing up her stares, and down the hall. Her door is open, I’m so ecstatic I’m practically floating. Until I feel the tip of a blade grazing my lower back. A hand grabs my shoulder…

“Don’t make a sound, go where I tell you to,” my fellow intruder whispers with a whisper so low yet so commanding. Our exit appears—he takes me out the back door. “Turn around” his order is calm but my body is commandeered. My heart is about to explode. I feel like I finally noticed the mountain lion stalking me all along. “Patt?” 

“Jerry?” I spout, a little too loudly. He makes a shushing motion. “Jerry?” I repeat quieter “What are you doing?” It’s my manager. There’s a silence for a moment, as we both recognize why we’re here.

“How many are you at?” He asks.


“How many? Come on kid, I’ve been working retail for twenty years, how many are you at?”

I pause for a moment.

“Thirty” I utter with the smallest glimmer of pride.

“Thirty?” He looks shocked. “Kid those are rookie numbers, you’ve really gotta start taking this seriously.” My jaw drops to China. My ego is left in shambles, and I’m just the slightest bit afraid. “Listen, I’ll give you this cretin, just this once. Don’t get too overzealous, you’ve got work tomorrow. Oh and I had to move your shift down to seven. Marty caught something over the weekend and he just can’t put another day in.” 

Jerry heads off, “Oh and good hunting” he whispers in an almost congratulatory way, “just remember to have fun.” What a gentleman I think. But still, the night is spoiled. Of course I still do my duty; it’s practically a public service. But as I’m taking the pieces of my offender to my Courthouse, I can’t feel that the event was a bit spoiled. At the end of this, I kinda feel like I was the one who got stabbed.