Guardian of the Rest Home

December 16, 2014 at 11:14 am (Cussed Dumbers)

The call came five minutes after I’d taken over the register at the Waterfront store. It was Eva Braun, manager of the Mothership, and newly-appointed author of the weekly work schedule. “How you doink, Cholls?” She has the cutest accent, one of the few German women who doesn’t sound like she’s scolding you when she speaks.

Unless, of course, she’s scolding you.

YamhillLamppost“Fine, assuming the new position.” I’d been spending most of my time at the Nightclub store, my de facto home. A full week on the Waterfront? Someone was being punished, and it wasn’t me. “So, is this schedule an ongoing thing, or am I back to the Nightclub soon?”

“You, sir, are there for the duration, my friend. You can control the idiots…”

Oh, goody. I’m back to clean up the neighborhood.

I get this duty every once in a while. With the MAX stop right there, we have spurts of crime as kids run off the train, grab items and run back while another kid holds the door open. Or they will cluster into a group of ten and swarm the store. At that point, you protect the expensive items and make as much eye contact as you can. It thins the herd.

The problem? It’s SO slow at night. It’s great to have some quiet time, but I prefer the wacky bustle of the Nightclub store. My Happy Crackheads, as I call them. I have a good rapport with most everybody, and many of the street thugs will simply avoid the store when I’m working. It’s either respect, or the knowledge that I will pursue charges for that Little Debbie’s you just stuck down your pants. And I ain’t afraid to go in there looking for it.

On the Waterfront, I mosey around the store, flirt with the local cocktail waitresses, sweep leaves out of the doorway. Twenty minutes will go by without a sale, then ten people will walk in at once, demanding immediate service. “Hurry, the train is coming!” (After they have spent ten minutes bitching about $1.39 candy bars.) Oh, they will make their train, but I’m gonna sweat ’em a little…

Perks abound, like the fact that I can close the store at a certain time, instead of worrying if a co-worker will show up. If I miss the bus it’s usually my fault. (Except Sunday, when buses are running earlier. It takes precise timing and no incidents to make that bus.) I am in control of my destiny in that respect.

I’m also at the location of the main office. Master P is often looking down from the crow’s nest, watching the action. We have cameras everywhere, and footage comes in handy. Art East, head of IT and video surveillance, is often upstairs, hunting, editing. My first night was a busy one; Art spent most of my shift culling footage of late-night incidents at the Nightclub store.

Art came down, and asked, “Can you come take a look at this? You know everybody over there. Maybe you can recognize this guy?” Someone had a stolen credit card, and had spent about $250 over night. I already had an idea, but we locked the front doors and hurried upstairs.

It took about a minute of footage for me to figure out who he was. Shit, he’s one of the cool ones. Easy customer, never angsty, always calls me buddy. Sigh. There goes a couple hundred in food stamp sales a month. When I got home, I looked through PDXmugshots. It took almost two hours, and 112 pages of mugshots to find him. Again, sigh. I like the ones who are respectful.

I also get to see some familiar faces, like my buxom bartender babe, my hotel hostess, and Mumbly Peg, my favorite scratch-off junkie. She will come in hand hang out for an hour or two, chasing the winning ticket. She no longer mumbles, we can hear each other perfectly these days. She was happy to see me, too.

I also scored two loaves of fresh baked bread off the bakery’s porch, right after closing. (Snooze you lose, Weird Steven.) And the topper of this weird first day? A huge owl was relaxing in a tree on the MAX platform until late in the evening. He awoke, scratched his underbelly with talons, and flapped off into the dark.

Just another nocturnal watcher of the night…

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