I’ve told this story before, on an old bonus episode of Straight Riffin, but it was with colorful commentary from my co-host and our guest that evening. So, perhaps I can tell a shorter version of the story now.
For a brief time in early 2001, I worked at a Circle K doing the graveyard shit. It looked quite a lot like this (note the glass door in the back of the store). My hours were from 10pm to 6am. I worked next to an irish bar, so it was pretty loud but otherwise mostly empty until around 1:30am, when drunks would try to buy alcohol (and I’d have to deny them) or snacks/drinks (and I’d say “now, you’re not driving yourself home are you?”). After 2am, it was a ghost town.
My job was to stock the coolers in the back, do inventory counts, and clean the store. Around 4:30am, I had to start making coffee for the early birds. Sometimes, I’d go 2-3 hours at a time without a single customer.
The store was in a city called Yorba Linda – a series of gated communities in an upper-middle class suburb in Orange County surrounded by basically nothing. They all had their own private security forces, so my only “friends” to swing by were the guards taking a break from chasing teenagers out after curfew.
At the time, my friend Nad (mentioned earlier) also worked at a Circle K – the one down the street from where we lived at the time. So, we’d call each other when it was particularly slow and boring. I was outside on a smoke break at about 3am, talking to Nad on the phone, when a guy pulled up in our empty parking lot and parked diagonally (like a douche) in his big red Mustang. He left his music blaring while he got out of the car (hey douche), and I told Nad what was happening. He was laughing. The douche walked around to his passenger side – which was facing the front door of my store, where I was standing – and pulled out a gun. He lifted his shirt, put the gun in his waistband and started walking towards the store.
I told Nad “the guy just pulled out a gun and put it in his pants”. Nad wanted details. Since this guy was walking towards me, I just acted like Nad told me a joke. The douche said “don’t worry man, it’s not for you!” and walked into the store. Nad said “keep me on the line. I’ll call the cops if I hear anything”. He knew my store number, so he could give them the address if needed.
What confuses many people about this story is why I didn’t run. I didn’t even think of running. I figured I was safer inside with security cameras than out running around in the streets. Besides “it’s not for [me]”, right? What’s the store policy on that? I walked back in the store, stayed on the phone, and stood behind the register. The douche came up, put down a bag of chips, and I rang him up. When I gave him the total, and he reached for his wallet, I thought “oh fuck, here it comes”. But it didn’t. He just pulled out money and handed it over. I gave him his change and verrrry slowly closed the register, just in case. He said “hey thanks man. have a good night!” and left.
I told Nad. He said “call the cops, man!”. I tried to explain — it wasn’t for me. He did nothing wrong. He just kinda scared me.
About 30 mins later, I’m outside talking to one of the private security guards that swung through, telling him the story. As we’re talking, the big red mustang rolls right through the middle of the parking lot. Slowly, then sped up and left. The guard said “you should definitely call the cops. This guy’s staking out your store”. He had to take off, but I called the cops. I explained what happened, they said “okay, we’ll send someone by”. I waited 30 mins and there was no sign of the cops. The guy rolled by again, but this time to the back of the store — thankfully, we kept those doors locked after 7pm. There was a payphone outside, so he left his car running and the lights blinding me inside, to (I assume) make a phonecall. A few minutes later, he got back in his car, then drove slowly through the parking lot again. But, this time, there was a customer inside – a local 20-something who talked big game. Offered to chase the guy down. I said “nah.. the cops are on their way”.
Another 30 mins passed, and I thought maybe it was all over. But, I called the cops again to tell them the douche had returned. They said “okay, sir, stay calm. we’re sending someone now”. I reminded them that they said the same thing an hour ago. They didn’t like that.
The local 20-something came back into the store, asking if I’d seen the douche. I had not. But, that’s when the douche appeared again, slowly rolling through the lot. The 20-something bolted out to try catching him, to get his license plate. The cops showed up a few minutes later, and I explained the course of events.
Another hour went by, all quiet. The 20-something came back in and said “well, they got ’em dude!”. I don’t know how he knew. He was tired and decided to go home. A few minutes later, the cop from earlier came back in. He said “okay, we got him. Found him at a payphone at another Circle K down the street”.
As it turns out – they surrounded the payphone, asked him to put his hands up. He decided to try and bum-rush the cops. Cause he’s a genius. They tackled him, he fought, they beat him pretty good. They found meth, coke, weed, and pills in his car. And the gun. The *ahem* the BB gun.
As the cop would tell me – CA law states that anything presented as a gun technically is a gun. So, there ya go. I had a gun-toting customer in my store. I guess that’s the story.