Clerks definitely made Kevin Smith an occasional household name in 1994. However, it did just as much to popularize the plight of gas station attendants, neighborhood bodega workers, and the other unfortunate souls who frequented 24-hour corner stores. Anyone who’s ever been stuck with the night shift is bound to have a story or two to tell.
So, a popular Reddit forum asked the question, “Late night store Clerks, what is the strangest things that’s happened on the job?” Night shift clerks past and present came out in droves, offering up accounts of everything you’d expect; attempted robbery, successful robbery, drug use, and bathrooms straight from the bowels of hell. There’s also a few surprises. (All entries sic’d, obviously.)
Like an overly-embarrassed man who deserves the award for “Male Relation of the Year:”
A man came in ten times within a single hour. He kept leaving and coming back without buying a single thing. Finally, on the tenth time he comes up to the counter with a box of tampons. I proceeded to ask him, “rough night?”, to which he responded “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Or the tale of one attendant who did right by those in need:
I hope I’m not too late to the party here. I used to work the graveyard at a gas station near my place. Pretty normal night. Clean, stock smokes, clean again, sit behind the counter. A woman came in about mid 30’s with a little boy with her. She was in tears and her clothes were torn a bit. She came up and asked to use the phone. When she got off without getting an answer, she asked to stay here for a bit. I told her it would be no problem. About 20 mins goes by and I wound up giving her and her kid free drinks and one of the sandwiches we have on the hot rack. She was in the store for about 30 mins until her “boyfriend” came in and found her and her kid. He was pretty calm at first but then started screaming at her and telling her she needs to come with him. Luckily before anything crazy happened, a cruiser pulls up to the front and two cops come in and intervened. He was arrested right there. I guess he had been beating her in front of her kid and she was trying to run away. I’m glad I got to keep her away from harm for at least a little bit. Was a scary night!
A few involving units sold and units desired were just silly:
7-11, circa 1996….
A guy walks up to the surly clerk, who seemed to work 25 hours a day, and asks “do you sell eggs by the 1/2 dozen?”
Clerk: “No, you have to buy a dozen.”
Guy: “I only need 6”
Clerk: “I’d don’t care. You get 12 or you get zero!”
With out saying another word the guy walks back to get his dozen eggs, pays, and walks out…. Then he throws his 6 unwanted eggs at the store window before driving off.
But the rest pretty much involved everything we’ve come to know and love about corner stores. Like the sweet, sweet relief of milk:
I worked at a 24/7 gas station in a small college town. One night, the club across the street had a fight break out and about 50 people were pepper sprayed by the police when they responded at about 1:30am.
Five minutes later cue 50 angry club goers busting into the store, running to the dairy cooler, dousing themselves in milk and then running back out.
I just stood there in utter confusion and then told my boss I didn’t want the late shift anymore.
Not to mention other fluids and fluid-like items:
Huge guy comes in and asks to use the restroom. No big deal, I’m not one to stand in the way of nature. Well maybe 20 minutes later, guy comes our in huff and says,
“dude, I’m really sorry, I f*cked up your toilet…”
“It’s all good man, I’ll get it…”
Not really needing spectators while I cleaned sh*t, I expect the guy to shrug his shoulders and walk off, well he looks back into the back where the restroom is with a look of disgusting concern and says,
“Man it’s really coming out, like it’s coming out into the backroom…”
I rush back, thinking I’ve got to at least stop this from becoming some kind of biohazard event. I round the corner and there’s nothing, but I can smell an unholy, overwhelming stench. I continue back, expecting to ruin my shoes at any moment until I reach the mens room, at this point I’ve had to cover my face with my shirt and focus on breathing through my mouth, but I reach the door with no issue. Frustrated from the mind-numbing oder alone I push the mens room door open, ready for at least an inch of gas station dooks all over the floor, as the door swings forward I see nothing but the water filling my eyes and the black/brown human paint the fat bastard left against the back of the bowl…
Pissed to the point of rushing out, fully intending of asking this rotten asshole what the deal was, I round the corner again to see his big sh*t-eating grin spread across his face…
TLDR; Got jigsawed into breathing in breathing noxious fumes.
And the source of said fluids, often resulting in nudity. Lots and lots of nudity:
Had a guy pull up to the pump, unhooked it wanting post-pay. Our policy said not to authorize it between midnight and 5am (pre-pay only). I announce this to the dude over the loudspeaker. I’m pretty sure he was wasted; he continued to get more and more beligerent. When he started beating the pumps with the nozzle/hose, I called the cops. Dude starts banging on the door (locked, no way he would get in), can’t, gets frustrated, and finally just whips his deal out and starts wagging it in the general direction of the store. The CCTV is getting all this, so I just start laughing my ass off. Then the cops pull up, and two deputies put this poor, drunk, deal-wagging man away in the back of a police car.
I quit a few months after that.
There’s also the time someone used the threat of robbery and assault to check burrito supplies:
I worked at a small convenience store in the early 1990’s. They had one of those fry delis that had chicken, jojos, corndogs, burritos etc. This particular night I had run out of burritos and chicken. I also shut the thing down and cleaned it all out about an hour before closing.
About 5 minutes before I was closing up a guy walked in and asked for some burritos. I told him I was out of them, and that I was just about to close and the fryer was shut down. He walked around the store for a minute (I assumed he was looking for something else to buy) and then he came up to the counter, pulled out a knife and told me if I didn’t cook him some burritos he was going to stab me.
I freaked out, but told him I had none to cook. I showed him the freezer and told him I would happily cook anything he wanted from it, but he will see I was out of burritos. He looked in it for a minute, turned to me and said, “You really are out.” I replied, “Yeah.” He then put the knife away and left the store.
Or when a customer offered leftovers as payment:
In high school I worked at a 24 pharmacy which also had a small selection of beer. At about 2am this guy walks in 3 sheets to the wind…saunters over to the beer and grabs 2 12 packs. He comes up to the counter and slams the beer down. Reaches into his pocket and pulls out a half eaten taco and puts it on the counter…I couldn’t say anything because I was so perplexed…I just let him walk out with the beer and told my bosses I thought he might have a gun also…was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. A couple weeks later he apperantly tried this at the family owned gas station across the street and got shot.
Finally, though, is a tried-and-true lesson in karma (with a hint of Judge Dredd):
A guy came in to buy beer after hours. Told him I couldn’t sell, it was against the law. He pulled out a badge, said “I am the law”. I called 911 and a cop shows up, tells me if I can just let it go, I wouldn’t have any more problems. I let it go. Two weeks later, driving home late at night, WAY over the speed limit I got pulled over. It was cop #2, he came up to the car, recognized me, said “Slow down” and left.
Reading through these stories makes me appreciate just how clean my bathroom is. If I wanted, I could take a massive dump knowing full well that A) I’d offend no one but myself, and B) the toilet would still be cleaner than the cleanest gas station restroom.
Anyone here flip through UPROXX while manning one of these joints? What have you seen during the night shift?
And for more news from the web…