The world looked a little better in the morning with fresh eyes. The cop had done a piecemeal job at restoring our damaged faith in humanity. I called my Dad and told him that we had finally made it, but that we had used up all of our money in the debacle. He wired me $100 to last until my first official school stipend started in a week. We were rich!
Life was good; we sat back in the AC and had a good laugh over it all, happy to finally be here. We decided to head out to the grocery store and spend some of what little money we had on food for the week.
I remember what a beautiful day was, blue skies, palm trees and warm sunshine on our skin. The worst was behind us, bad things happened in three’s. The broken truck, the delusional Stepfather, and the rabid dog. We knew we would look back at this and laugh!
We pulled my little GTI into the Albertsons Grocery store parking lot. What a nice grocery store! It was huge and carried absolutely everything. We were over the moon that you could buy beer in the actual grocery store, what a bonus!
We took our time perusing, buying ingredients to make tuna casserole and other non-imaginative dishes that would make plenty of leftovers for the week. This was very responsible of us; it ensured that we would have enough money for other essentials, such as my pot dealer and cigarettes. We patted ourselves on the backs and headed up towards the checkout.
I was placing my items on the conveyor, and Paul had headed up to the service desk at the front of the store about 30 feet in front of me. He needed stamps to put on all of the “Greetings from Florida” postcards he had bought. This was an obvious attempt to make the guys back home jealous of his new life in the bikini- clad state he had been calling home for twenty-seven seconds.
As I unloaded my groceries from my cart, I realized that I was relaxed for the first time in days.
Just then, two heavily armed, shirtless men in Guatemalan pants and ski masks came exploding through the main entrance of the store. With their machine guns pointed angrily upwards, they demanded very loudly, “EVERYBODY GET THE FUCK ON THE FLOOR!”
Suddenly I felt as if I was under water and everything was moving very slowly. I watched as patrons and cashiers alike tossed their purses and belongings aside and fell flat to the floor. The fear in the air was palpable. It was eerily silent.
I was startled out of my dreamlike state by the alarmingly loud sound of someone yelling the following:
“TRAAACCCYYYYY! GET DOWWWWNNNN!”
I realized I was the only person in the entire store still standing, besides the gunmen, of course. I saw Paul crouched with his hands above his head at the service desk, frantically motioning me to get down. Hey, thanks for the shout-out Paul! Now the gunmen noticed too, but I literally could not move, my brain refused to process what was happening.
I just stood motionless and watched as they finished up emptying all of the 20 lanes of cash drawers into their bags/pillowcases.
As they walked backwards towards the doors to make their getaway, they decided to make one final announcement to everyone in the store before they ran out, which I though was very considerate.
“Sorry everybody, but life’s a bitch!” And with that they turned and ran out of the store.
I was disturbingly calm and I have no idea why I was so unfazed by the incident. Paul was terribly shaken and came running over to me, and we had one of those creepy unsure nervous laughs when you don’t know what else to do in the situation.
I just wanted to get the fuck out of there; seriously, my groceries that I couldn’t afford were melting. The very young and obviously under-qualified manager was in a fucking frenzy. I guess he must have had a troop leader meeting or something more pressing on the day Albertson’s held their: “What To Do In A Robbery” seminar. He was trying his best to get everyone settled down, and get money back in the cashiers’ drawers so that they could get everyone calmed down and on their way.
I had bagged all of my groceries and gotten them in the cart when the frazzled checker asked me, “God, I’m so sorry about all of that, what do I owe you?” That’s OK, I told her, “sixty dollars.”
As we pushed our cart out through the parking lot, I stopped to wave to my two new armed robber friends sitting in the back of the police cruiser. Paul asked if I had that “creepy satisfied smile” on my face because they had caught the guys? I told him not at all, I could care less. I was smiling because not only did we just get free groceries, but also we made sixty dollars.