When I was 15 I got my second real job at a local bar washing dishes. My friend Gene worked there, and promised it was a simple job, easy to steal beer too.
Gene was a blossoming alcoholic since elementary school. He had 3 DWI’s before the age of 21, two of which he got while he was already driving on a suspended license. He was a couple years older than me, but only a grade ahead, and the type of guy that would steal whatever he wanted. Even from his own friends.
I wasn’t unfamiliar with art of the steal, I was just a little more discriminant about who I stole from. My first day Gene had already prepped me on where the beer was stashed, and how to get it out. “It’s in a hallway near the back door, stash it in the woods by the dumpster, I’ll pick you up later!”
My stomach was already kinda doing flips, first day at a new job… trying to learn the ropes… trying to stay out of the way in the fast paced kitchen. My mentor was a middle aged man with a 70s porn stache, and a creepy rubber apron splattered with bits of food. The air was thick and musty, the room lit like a hazy, yellow, dull, glow… I felt like I was in some vintage horror movie. This was the type of place that would take uneaten fries off of a customers plate, and put them on a plate ready to be served.
When I was finally able to sneak away, and find the back hallway… I was floored, the entire hall was filled the full length with cases of beer, just enough room to walk through. And the back door… five steps away. Right when I thought I’d make my move my mentor crept around the corner “What are you doing?” Im sure I replied with something super intelligent and unassuming too, like “Uh, Nothing?”
A couple more hours into my first shift and Gene stopped by for a visit, to tell me that I better not pussy out. “Make sure you grab some Corona!”
After Gene left, I started trying to devise a plan. I offered to take out the garbage, but I was duly informed that this was a no no. “That’s my job!” I wasn’t trying to throw down with the grown man wearing a rubber apron… so I just decided to just go for it. Besides I could already tell my future at this joint was bleak, at best.
I shuffled through the kitchen, to the alcohol laden hallway, grabbed two random cases, and shot out the back door. The bright daylight hit me as if I had been doing that whole thing with my eyes closed. Stomach in knots, adrenaline roaring up and down my spine… all disheveled… I ran straight into the small patch of woods behind the dumpster. Then out comes rubber apron man.
As he emptied the garbage cans, I knelt in the brush, hovering over the beer, holding my breath. He was literally 10 feet from me. When he finally went back in, I crawled out of the woods, looking back to see two cases sitting there, clear as day. “Fuck it” I’m going back in. I decided if they were still there when I left work I’d take them, if not… oh well.
After what seemed like a decade my first shift had come to an end, and it was time to get drunk… hopefully! Gene and Stan were already in the parking lot waiting for me when I walked out. I looked over and the beer was still there! Gene pointed to his trunk, and I headed into the bushes. As I walked out feeling proud as shit, I looked over and was eye to eye with the kitchen manager. “HEY!”
Now I swear… under the right circumstances the human brain really can do a lot of calculating in a split second. And in that fraction of time I was able to configure that at that point… I was already fucked, So I was getting that beer, and I was gonna enjoy it. “Fuck Yoooouuuu” I ran as fast as a little fat kid could run, threw the beer in the trunk, and squeezed in.
The Manager and another worker jumped in his car and we had ourselves a good old fashioned medium speed chase.
Gene weaved in and out of neighborhoods, as Stan sat in the front seat laughing and yelling. I sat smooshed in the backseat, feeling green as I pondered what was to come. Then they were just gone… we’d lost them.
We pulled up to the playground to enjoy what we had earned. Gene bitched about my selection, but then decided it would do the job. “Pass me one” I opened the top to the case and was mortified. “NO… Fucking…Way!” It seemed I had stolen two cases of empty bottles.
Now Gene and I were for sure out of a job, so I decided to tell my dad the funny story of what happened. He didn’t think it was funny. Even better he said I had to go there and explain that they were empties, and get paid for my one day of work. Uh!
The next day he drove me in, and as soon as I walked in the door the manager grabbed me. He pulled me by my arm to a dark wooden stairwell. As we headed up, and the wood steps popped under our feet, I thought to myself “I didn’t know this place had an upstairs.”
When we reached the top, he pushed me into this big dim office with leather couches and a big wooden desk. Behind the desk was the owner, wearing a blue suit and thick glasses. Propped up in his big leather chair like a Mafia Don… he just puffed his cigar… and continued his conversation… looking through me, as if I wasn’t even there.
I wasn’t really sure if I should talk, or move. I’m pretty sure I was about to be off’d, so I just kinda held my breath, eagerly waiting for a chance to plead my case. All of the sudden the old man grumbles “I hear you stole some beer?”
I started to explain, but at that point his attention was back to the other people in the room. Until I got to the part about the beers being empty. The whole room got silent, then exploded into laughter. “Why in the world would anyone go through all the trouble to steal empty cases of beer?”
Needless to say… I didn’t get paid.