Some time ago I had a real close encounter with Violence in the Workplace that will stick in my memory banks forever…
It was during a time when I was in the Marine Corps - and was working a part time position with a convenience store - from 11 pm to 7 am - on Friday and Saturday nights.
This shift for the most part was designed to stay open while - giving you the opportunity to clean the store - stock the store - and sweep the parking lot.
From about 2 am to 5 am - the place was absolutely dead.
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One of the things I always did was to park my car off to the side - so that it would leave the front of the store wide open for my customers to park.
Well one night when the store was completely empty. I had just cleaned the parking lot and was working inside toward the front the store - when I noticed a car pull into the parking area.
In stead of parking right in front like everyone else did - this car pulled way off to the side of the store - where it was hidden by the building.
Then the person came walking across the front of the store heading for the entrance. I immediately noticed that they were wearing a leather jacket - and this was in the middle of summer - with the jacket unzipped about half way - with one of their hands hidden inside the unzipped portion.
Upon noticing this I immediately headed for the entrance and I opened the door about the same time they arrived - I was trying to decide if I should run or not.
Why run - because I truly believed I was going to get robbed.
So upon opening the door - I greeted them. They did not respond at all as they entered. I stayed right by the front door holding it open as I still contemplated running.
I continued to talk to this person - and to this day I have no idea what I was saying to them - I just kept rambling on and on - about who knows what.
As I watched the person - they walked up and down each isle - never responding to me at all. I am certain they were trying to determine if there was anyone else in the store. The entire time - they never removed their hand from the unzipped portion of their jacket - or said a word.
After finishing their unannounced tour of my clean store - they came up to the counter and asked for a pack of cigarettes.
Remember - I am still standing by the front door which I am holding open. Now is when I really needed to run if I was going to do so. Why would he go up and down every row and not get anything - return to the counter and ask for cigarettes - if he wasn’t trying to find out if anyone else was there - prior to robbing me.
Every part of me told me they were going to rob me - but the Marine in me said don’t run - why did I have to be a Marine.
He still has said nothing except his request for cigarettes.
I let the door go closed as I came around the counter - never taking my eyes off of him. I knew the store so well I was able to grab the pack of cigarettes without removing my eyes from him - and I sat them on the counter.
He had placed two one dollar bills on the counter. I rang up the cigarettes and when the drawer opened I only let it come out just enough to expose the coins. I gave him the change - he turned and walked out of the building - never removing his hand from his jacket.
Violence in the Workplace - Sometimes we will never know…
Now I don’t know for sure whether he was going to rob me or not.
If he was - did he change his mind because I was being overly friendly.
If he was - did he just get scared or have second thoughts.
I just don’t know about any of these questions.
What I do know - is that I was absolutely positive in my mind that he was going to rob me.
I took a calculated risk to play it out and see what was gong to happen.
Violence in the workplace can and will happen whether we are ready or not!
We might as well be ready!
If the same thing would have happened today - I would have ran. Time does a lot of things - including giving you more common sense.
I imagine that the common sense we get with age - helps us to better judge and be ready for violence in the workplace.
Read another incident I had with potential violence at work.
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