Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Paticus' Past: Volume 3: The Armed Robbery...

Good times...Good times...

I realize that many of you are probably thinking that this is going to be some high octane tale of my involvement in a Michael Mann's "Heat" style armed robbery of a bank or museum or pet store or something...No ? None of you were thinking that ? You all thought that it was about Paticus himself being the robbee ? Damn, am I THAT boring ? Shit, man, none of you could have even feigned a belief that i was a badass robber ? Stop laughing...I mean it, stop laughing, or I will turn this blog around, so help me...You think i won't do it ?

Okay, that's better. Now I can get on with the story.

Well, as you all seem to have already guessed, I was not the robber, I was the robbee. Well, I was sort of the robbee surrogate, the guy was not taking MY money, but he was using me to take my employer's money.

Let me provide you with some background. I had been working in an office, but that turned kinda ugly(loooooong story- for another post...or two...or five) and after I finally extricated myself from there, I decided that I would take a job at The Wherehouse, a music/video store. This was in Los Angeles, by the way. I was working at a store that was about three blocks from my house. I got promoted and transferred to a store that was in the neighboring city of Santa Monica.
The day after my last day at the L.A. store, they got robbed. I felt like I had dodged a bullet(no pun intended-or was there?). I should have guessed that i would not be so lucky.

It was a couple of weeks later, and it was a normal day. A gentleman dressed in a red suit with a tan driving cap on, asks me to check on something for him. I tell him sure, and then I walk up the little ramp to the cashier/computer counter...As I am walking across to the computer, I hear the footsteps behind me...I now know what's going to happen...

I turn around, and he has his coat open, and is showing me his gun. I will be honest, I do not remember all the dialogue. I know there was some variation on him telling me to be cool, and all that. he asked how many people were working, and I told him that is was me and two others, the girl at the front of the store, and the girl in the back room. He crossed over to me and put the gun in my ribs, and then in my back as he got behind me. then he told me that we were going to go get the other two employees.

We emptied the register at the front of the store, and then that employee came with us, walking in front of me. I still had the gun in my back. We went to the back room and invited the other employee on our stroll.

A little aside here. In recounting this story, I have had my courage called into question. Mostly because this guy robbed a few more Wherehouses, and then moved onto Tower Records. At one of the Tower Records(so the story goes), he ran into a Vietnam Vet who knocked his ass out, and tied him up with duct tape. When I told someone this, they said,"Wow, did you ever think of knocking him out ?" to which I replied, "Not really." To which he replied"Yeah, I guess that would take someone brave." I just kinda smiled at him. I guess he's right. That would require someone brave, and I guess that someone was not me. But, what I will say in my cowardly defense, is that he had robbed other stores, and it seemed like if we let him take the cash from the store, he would leave. that seemed like the best plan to me. Beyond that, I would rather live the rest of my life as a coward than to have died ten years ago protecting a corporation's money.

Now, back to the robbery memory already in progress.

It was now time to empty the safe. Now, I was always the kid in high school who could never get his locker open. These damn safes were the same way. Add to that the fact that I had only been there a few days, and I felt like I was the new guy on the bomb squad, and I had the hiccups.

We all went to the safe,and I told him that the combination to the safe was in my wallet, and I didn't know it. He told me to take out my wallet slowly, which I did, and then I put the combination into the safe. For some reason, it worked on the first try, and I gave him the loot. Then, he reminded me to put my wallet back in my pocket. That was odd.

I figured we were just about done, and then he uttered the words that(pardon the cliche) made my blood run cold. I never really grasped the full meaning of that phrase until that moment, because, man, it happened. This is one if the things I remember exactly.

Snazzy Dressed Robber: Now, we're gonna go get the security tape.

Overweight, Sweaty Hairy Hippie Assistant Manager: We don't have a security tape.

This was the absolute truth. the store had cameras in the ceiling, but they didn't work. I had no idea how he was going to take this. It was the first time his demeanor changed.

Snazzy Dressed Robber: Don't FUCK with me.

For a moment, I thought we were going to die. I turned slightly to him.

Overweight,Sweaty, Hairy Hippie Assistant Manager: Dude, I SWEAR to you. The cameras aren't hooked up to ANYTHING. We can go back and I'll show you.

I don't know whether he saw the abject fear in my face or what, but he believed me. He walked us into the back of the store, and he had us sit on the floor in the back room. He took the phone from back there, and he told us to stay there for a half hour. Then he left.

About ten minutes later, the UPS guy came back, and he asked if anyone was working. I asked if there was a guy out there in a red suit, and he said, "No, why ?" And I answered,"Because he just robbed us."

Did I mention that there were people shopping while this was going on ? I went out to the floor, and went behind the counter to call the police. A woman walks up to the counter with a CD in her hand.
"Yeah, I want to buy this." she says.
"Not right now, we just got robbed." I said.
"You did not."
"We fucking did too."
"Well, I want to pay with a credit card anyway."
"Get out." I said. Then we got all the folks out of the store, and waited for the police.

I took a few days off, then went back to work. I lasted 3 days, I think, and then I quit. I decided to go back to office work.

As I mentioned, the guy got caught. I(among many others) testified against him, and he got convicted on all sorts of charges for each of the robberies, Kidnapping(walking us around the store), false imprisonment(putting us in the back room), and some others that I don't recall. He went to jail for a loong time.

I also found out that he used a BB gun, so I guess that's another one in the coward column.

Well, there it is: The Tale Of the (sort of) Armed Robbery.


Avitable said...

It's the company's money - no reason to be brave for them. In fact, if you tried something and got hurt, they'd probably fire you for violating company policy and refuse to pay you for your injuries.

Feral Mom said...

Holy fuck, I'm glad you didn't try to be a hero. And this was a beautifully written, harrowing story. More Paticus' past! And WHOOO! Los Angeles! Can't wait to move there and get held up.

Paticus said...

Avitable- I think you are unfortunately probably right about that. I'm glad I didn't find out.
Feral mom- Thanks, I'm kinda glad I'm still around,too.
And thanks for the flattery. can you see me batting my eyelashes ?
Don't worry about L.A.- I actually felt safer there overall then I did in Chicago, for some reason.Even after the robbery.

c2 said...

Coward, shmoward. You did exactly the right thing, corporate money or not. No one, especially you, got hurt.

BB gun or no, I'm sure it felt real, and that's not really something you want to take a chance on. Now, if it was a brightly-colored water pistol, or the dude's index finger, I'd be singing the coward tune (surprisingly, NOT written by Noel Coward). As it is, I'm glad it turned out this way, and that you lived to tell the tale a decade later.