Several years ago when I worked at CVS as a pharmacy tech, we got a new assistant store manager. He was a big dude, a bodybuilder type, and he was gruff. He was nice enough, though, and once or twice our group of work friends invited him out with us.
He would confide in us about the divorce he was going through, how he was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to see his daughter anymore, how his wife killed his pitbull by kicking it with her stiletto heel, how he started taking home new women he picked up at bars. His behavior got more and more erratic, and it was awkward to witness.
One day I was standing in the stairwell that led up to the store office, a small, tight stairwell for even one person, when he entered the doorway. He looked at me sideways for a minute and then, standing very close to me, asked me how closely we “watched the Xanax in the back” (“back” meaning the pharmacy).
I am tall but he was large, and I felt dwarfed. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of him, but I knew he had a short fuse and was a bit… unpredictable.
I remember my body immediately wanted to run out of there, but somehow my mind convinced it that wasn’t necessarily the best response. Or it was convinced I wouldn’t make it past him.
Instead I told him something like we kept a good eye on it… that we were mindful of our stock (which we were). We didn’t account for every single pill as we did class two narcotics (like Ritalin, Oxycontin, etc.), but I didn’t tell him that. He started to say something like, “So you couldn’t…” but I cut him off, not wanting to hear what he was asking, telling him no, that I couldn’t. Whatever it was he wanted, I couldn’t do it.
He said OK sheepishly and shrugged, and then told me not to tell anyone.
So of course I told my closest work friend, begging her not to say anything but wanting someone to know just in case. Because in the back of my mind, I was freaking out a little.
And she told the store manager.
Several months later he left CVS, I think because of a workmans’ comp injury. And a few months after that, I was summoned to give a deposition about the incident.
Then I got scared.
I would have to sit in a small, private room across a table from a 250-pound bodybuilder with erratic behavior and rage issues and explain to his lawyer what happened that day. Something that he was denying, but my manager, the district manager and CVS’ lawyers were saying was the truth.
And I had to prove it.
The way the district manager kissed my ass that day when I arrived told me they needed my help and knew why I wouldn’t want to speak up. He was a fucking scary dude, and they needed me to sit in a room across from him and explain in detail—detail that his lawyers would pick apart—how he asked me to steal drugs from the pharmacy for him.
But for some reason or another, he didn’t show up. I gave my testimony, which was scary enough without him in the room. His lawyer tried to confuse me, asking me to answer questions like “Exactly how many days had you worked at CVS before this incident occurred?” and “How long had you worked with [assistant manager] before this happened?” Very specific questions I would not know off the top of my head, and so I was told to estimate. (I mean honestly, how the fuck was I supposed to remember when he started there, down to the very day?) Yet when I would answer another question, my estimations were treated as fact and then I was called a liar. I finally started answering every question that did not involve the specific incident itself with “I. Don’t. Know.”
And then it was over. I never heard what happened, and I would say I don’t care, except that when Ian and I moved into our neighborhood almost six years ago, we realized that he managed the Food Lion a block from our house.
At first, I refused to shop there. I wouldn’t go in the store. But it’s a block from our house. So my plan of attack became go in, scope out the place, find him and avoid the aisle he’s on. After a while we noticed we weren’t seeing him at all, so we quietly asked a cashier if he was still working there. We were told he was out on a workmans’ comp claim.
But he’s back now, so my old plan of attack is back on. Sneak in, be wary of who’s around me, grab what I need and GTFO.
However, months of no sightings must have left me complacent, because last night Ian and I walked down to Food Lion and, in the middle of a conversation as we made our way down the dairy aisle, we ran into him. Literally, almost. I almost walked right the fuck into him.
I didn’t know what to do except brush past him and pretend the cheese selection was the Most Important Thing at that moment. That left Ian in my dust to face him, but come on: He’s just guilty by association with me. He isn’t actually The One Who Ratted Him Out.
I heard Ian greet him and get greeted back, and I think I mumbled some sort of hello, although I was balls-deep in the cheese selection and not actually facing any human being, so I’m sure the people next to me thought I was afflicted with some kind of mental condition.
And then it was over. We walked out, and I didn’t really think about it until just now. It wasn’t dramatic, really, and I can’t even say my heart started racing. I’ve had small encounters like that in the past, where I’ve been in an aisle and he’s walked by, and I’m sure there will be more.
I know that years ago he was wrong to ask me what he asked, or what he tried to ask. It was wrong on several levels. But despite not actually choosing to let CVS know what had happened, I don’t like being a rat.
Especially to a ‘roid-rager who works at the grocery store down the block from my house.