It was another slow night. Like, really slow. There were generally three phases of the night. The evening, which was still daytime for normal people. We got the least amount of problems during this time because it was when normal people had stopped drinking and more… dedicated people had yet to begin. The end of this period is right before we stop selling alcohol, when people want to make last minute purchases, or fail to do so because they are too late.
The second stage is generally dead. No more alcohol, sorry.
The third stage is prime time for anyone who had maken the choice, whether voluntarily or not, to not make any contribution to society. Somehow, even they took days off too. This was one of those days.
A regular guy came in. He bought his snacks and grabbed a newspaper. It had literally just been delivered to us. He would be the first to know all of the freshly printed outdated news that anyone not acquainted with the internet would be terribly interested in.
I wish him a good day, because for him, it is just starting. It is still dark out, and will remain to be for at least several hours. I silently hope I will never have to work a job that starts as early as his, like in a deli. He returns to his car which is parked at a pump.
A bit later, the automatic doors squeak open once again and he peeks his head though. My stomach immediately twists in a knot, because when that happens, it means something is wrong and it is my fault. This time, it wasn’t such an issue.
“It says there’s a snake in a box out there.”
What? Before I can make sure I heard what I heard, he is gone, and I can’t really go anywhere because my coworker is somewhere in the back. It’s after lunch and that’s just what he does. Occasionally I see flashes of his red shirt through the glass doors of the cooler. Maybe he’s stocking beer, and not just drinking it. Believe me, the temptation exists.
Eventually he returns. I explain the situation. Rather, I pass on the hearsay I got from a customer that sounds like complete nonsense. Perhaps if such a tip was from one of our tweakers, we could have gone about our
day night. However, this guy was a proper hard working individual. So my coworker, having seniority, asks me to go out and check it out. So I do.
There is indeed a big plastic container by a pump that has a neatly sharpied word of warning on it; Snake Inside.’ Okay, someone must be messing with us. Who puts a snake in a box and takes it somewhere just to abandon it? There are air holes too, but would someone really by so selectively haphazard?
I grab the container by the handle, held at arm’s reach, and bring it to the steps by the door. My coworker and I take turns trying to peer into the air holes, but have no luck spotting anything that isn’t just dirt smeared on the inside. So we call security.
“Okay, let me see.” The lady on the phone responds. I don’t think they have a code for such an event, or even have a drill they’ve practiced for in reaction to our situation. “Just open the box, I guess.”
Well, thank you for your input. I imagine we didn’t do such a thing sooner because all versions of that scenario in my head lead to this thing springing out of the bucket and taking me to hell with it, however way it may choose. My coworker once again pulled the seniority card and made me do the deed. But not before I went around the store to find the biggest, thickest gloves I could find.
I say my final goodbye to my coworker. He pats me on the shoulder. I tell him if he should happen to get a call from surveillance, he knows what happened. I also make sure to tell him that in no way should my tips go to him.
I head out to the back carrying this thing that still has not been confirmed to contain anything. I am wearing a pair of vinyl gloves covered by a thick pair of woven work gloves with nice rubber grips. Thinking about it now, if something wanted to stick it’s teeth into me, it totally could have. I tip the bucket over, the top facing away like it could explode like a bottle of champaign. Carefully prying off the top, I get it open.
A tiny garter snake crawls out, and out into the grass. I breath a huge sigh of relief.
Moral of the story? Don’t put snakes in vaguely marked boxes for someone else to deal with. Such boxes do make nice pranks for other coworkers though.
This series is based on real events, all of which happened at my last job, or based on people I knew at the time. Names have been changed to protect them from embarrassment and me from their wrath.