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‘Throwback Thursday’ Story – The Time I Got Robbed Back in 1991

It a “Throwback Thursday” as the Facebook and Twitter theme goes. In the spirit, here goes a story from years ago. Back in 1990 through 1991, when I was 18 and 19 I worked overnights at a Need’s Convenience which was and still is a franchised convenience store chain. For those who find this on-line through tags or a Google search, it was the one on Queen St. in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.

Back in the day next to Needs was a video store, so it was a bit like the movie ‘Clerks’ if you’ve seen it. And yes, I was supposed to working most of the days I was behind the counter. And no, I never played hockey on the roof.

Most nights I had fun, selling the usual stuff, prepackaged sandwiches, sodas and cigarettes, etc. The store was located in a college area, but in the same area there were transients and other eccentrics, so you’d see a lot of the world normally sheltered if you were a day worker. There were things I saw at that age I haven’t seen since. A few of the customers from midnight to 8 am were on the seedy side.

It was often a gossip fest, the guys working over at the video store come over and hang out and drink coffee. While alone, I’d crank the radio, when C+C Music Factory, Warrant, Vanilla Ice, etc would come on.

I can’t tell you how many times I was hit on while working there by all kinds of people. Oh, youth has its perks. I actually was going out with a co-worker for most of time working there. So I was like thank you, but no thank you.

All of this fun kind of changed one early morning. I don’t remember the morning by date ,oddly, because I’m a walking calendar like that, but around 7:45 am on sunny morning, a woman maybe in her late 20s came in looking for boxes. I took her at her word and went out back to check and see if we had any. After I looked for a second or two I told her “no we didn’t” and as I started walking back out the floor I catch a guy behind the counter on the camera monitor at the desk in the back room office. I ran to the register and told him to get out of my store in “French” and I don’t mean en francais.

Both the woman and her partner in crime took off but with about 20 cartons of cigarettes and the stacked cash in the time release safe that was ajar. $600+ if I recall. So that was “undisclosed amount of money” as people may have heard on the news that day.

Shaken up, I called the police and the store owner/my boss. If I recall my boss was on her way in and this was before cell phones, so she had no idea what had just happened.

After I had calmed down maybe an hour later, I started to think that the two people had cased the place, because they knew when shift change was and when they had access to the money. It’s been way more than 20 years since, so my memory of the policy is foggy but my guess is, that the safe timer was not to be set until the next person came in. I’m guessing it didn’t go over well in Stellarton. (Headquarters)

The police eventually did catch the crooks. I had to pick them out of a lineup. The guy who did the grabbing had a major scar on his face, so he was easy to pick out. I’d probably still know who he was today if I saw him. As for the girl, I don’t really remember. Later I found out he was an intravenous HIV positive drug user. Like I said we got all kinds of people in that store back then.

I wanted to get passed the incident, so I asked if I could work that night, and did. The best thing to do in my opinion is after a traumatic thing like a robbery, car accident, etc is to get back at it as soon as reasonably possible.

I worked there for a little while after that happened but after going out with two co-workers one after the other, things started getting awkward and I wanted something else work-wise at that point as well so I quit.

About five years later I again worked at a convenience store in Brewer, ME. After what happened to me in 1991, working at the Big Apple C-store I sized up everyone who came through that door. Luckily at the Big Apple the only thefts were gas “drive offs” and the odd shoplifting, no hold ups or moments where I felt violated.

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