I know I have mentioned it before, but I had a problem with porn in my store. I never wanted to sell it, but it was a corporate decision thing. The previous manager kept it behind the counter, and suggested I do the same, with a stern look in his eyes that suggested bad storm clouds darkened his past. But when I took over the store, the district manager made me put it out with the regular magazines. "You aren't selling enough Penthouse," he said. "Your numbers for the skins mags are 10% of a store your size. Don't tell me about kids getting access to it, we'll put it up high and behind a plastic signboard that says '18 or older only.'" In the company's defense, my sales were nearly tenfold as people didn't have to launch themselves over my laminate counter like a beached seal, straining to see if I had a copy of the latest "Penthouse Forum." This was in 1987-89, before the public got the Internet, so porn had to be purchased or traded as a wanking commodity on the local spank exchange. Having it out with the rest of the magazines caused all manner of trouble, including kids getting a hold of it who ignore the Plastic-Sign-That-Said-No, and hiding copies in the back to read at their leisure. But there was one other incident that I was aware of. It was the incident that forced the former manager of the store to hide the porn behind the counter in the first place, and the reason I started off describing one Roy's employee in particular.
I had heard about this employee at Roy's before, but never actually witnessed his jubilant activities personally. Given the complaints I got from my cashiers, I figured it was only a matter of time before I might witness something I could not un-see. It was a Tuesday afternoon, around the end of lunchtime. My wife came by the store to bring me my lunch (we lived in an apartment complex around the corner). It was a slow day, so my takalya was just hanging around to keep me company when the Roy Rogers employee of fame came in. I knew him by his description as soon as he walked into the store, his head down, his fists clenched, and his mind full of purpose. He first went to some random part of the store, but his eagerness betrayed him as no one goes to the remainder section with old calendars and coloring books for 6 seconds before making a straight path to the porn section. There he immediately grabbed a copy of Playboy and started flipping through the pages with vigor. His actions were loud and firm with intent, and his speed and intent page flipping nearly tore the pages right out of the copy he was reading. At some point, he found the very page that inspired him to express his love and sexual admiration of the model within, and his work apron started whipping back and forth like a mudflap on a Mac truck. I mean, he was pumping for some deep well water with the strength and rhythm of a seasoned pro.
My wife stood there, having put down her sub, sharing the witnessing of the sorts of things her mother warned her about city folk. She looked at me; her eyes heavy with "it's not just me, right? You see this?"
"HEY!" I screamed. Every single customer in my store looked up. There must have been about half a dozen people hanging around during their lunch break; a typical light crowd of soccer moms and local office drones on a Tuesday afternoon. But the inertia of the Roy Roger employee's lust kept his piston engine going at full speed. I can still picture that brown apron slapping back and forth, concealing the vigorous pumping while the other hand steadied the reading material like a truck driver balancing a tray of nachos during a complicated merge into speeding traffic.
"YOU BY THE PORNO MAGS!" I specified, in case this man did not have any idea I was singling his behavior out. This caused everyone in the store to look by the pornographic section of the magazine rack as if choreographed by Paula Abdul. It strikes me as odd that everyone knew where to look at the same time; perhaps it was the flapping of the apron that drew their attention as well.
The man stopped. He did not make eye contact to anyone, but stared straight ahead at a row of "The Washingtonian" magazine, frozen like a deer trying hard not to be seen by an oncoming car's headlights. His fist stopped, and the lint that had been vigorously flying around him in his passionate banging started to settle in the rays of the afternoon sun streaming through my front door window.
All engines, full stop.
"GET THE *FUCK* OUT OF MY STORE!!!" I screamed. I wanted to add, "NO MASTURBATING IN FRONT OF MY WOMAN!" but thankfully did not draw attention to my recent bride of less than a year, who was surely noticing for the first time how much mayonnaise was in her BLT. This would be one of the very few moments I ever swore in the presence of customers, but my disgust was powered by my sense of young justice like I was throwing rotten cabbages at a man in stocks by the capital square. I was 21 years old, the manager of a store that was consistently performing 20% better than the previous year, and I was not having some self-gratifying dunce spreading his seed in the front of my store. There... there would be NONE OF THAT!
His response was to thrust the magazine back into the rack with precision that was highly optimistic of any result to conceal what he was doing. He then stormed to another part of the store and attempted to hide by, I kid you not, aligning himself with a spinning Harlequin Romance book rack like some cartoon cat hiding behind a floor lamp. He made sporadic eye contact with me, assured that I could not see him concealed in such a way.
"GET OUT OF MY STORE BEFORE I CALL THE COPS!" I said, exposing that, yes, I could see him trying to re-tie his drawstring work pants. His response was not as I hoped. My hope was that he would leave, possibly with the "Price is Right Loser Trombone" sound as he slunk out my front door like a cat who had just knocked over a potted plant. But he did not leave, and instead ran into into my back room. Yes, the one labeled "Employees only," much to my shock and disgruntled nature, and he hid there. There was no way in hell I was going to follow this guy into an enclosed area with access to a fire extinguisher and stacks of "Garrison Keoller's Lake Wobegon Days," so I called the local constabulary, saying a man had just been masturbating in my store and was now in a restricted area, trying to hide. The response I got from the man at the other end was not filled with any sense of urgency that I would have considered appropriate in my Victorian sense of pride. That was until my fire alarm went off. Yes, the douchebag went out my fire exit. Now who's gonna send someone over? That's right, sir. Yes, you on the phone who just asked if my sprinklers went off as well, which they didn't thank you, but now customers were surrounding me and asking if they should purchase their copy of "Love, Medicine, and Miracles" now, or come back later when things were less of a circus with the flashing lights and the alarm blaring.
"Pelvis... has left the building!" I wanted to announce to everyone in case they were worried the pud masher would return.
It was 30 minutes later when the firetruck drove off, leaving the issue in the hands of the police. Did I mention local police and fire enforcement have a wicked sense of humor? Some of them were regular customers who purchased some of the porn my company forced me to distribute, and felt this was the high point of their day. The police gathered witness accounts with an air of sarcastic shock, notably from my wife who was rather put off by the whole thing (although, 20 years later, she would be doing Slumber Parties sales from our home, so take from that what you will). After getting what they needed, the police went to Roy Rogers. They surmised the type of person dumb enough to wax the skin flute at his lunch break was the kind of guy stupid enough to go back to work in an attempt to appear like a model employee who surely did not do Anything-of-the-Sort. I was dumbfounded at this lesson, as the call quickly came back over the walkie-talkie: they had found him working in the kitchen, vigorously mopping with a forearm strength that got him in trouble in the first place. He was arrested under a litany of charges, including exposing himself to a minor because there was a teenager in my store when it happened (a guy, aged 17, who described the event to the officer as "kinda gross").
Days later, the manager of the Roy Rogers came to me and appealed his case, stating the employee was mentally retarded and didn't know what he was doing, and to drop the charges. Coincidentally, my district manager was in the store at the time, and not minutes before, I was using this tale as an example of why I didn't want porn in my store and to wipe that smile from his face, I didn't think this was funny. The DM stepped in, and said that the company did not press charges, the police did, along with other customers whose names we did not get. This was a matter between the individual and the state, and was not this guy's first time. My DM also stated that using this guy's retardation as an excuse was insulting to retarded people who managed to go through life not jerking off in public like an oversexed monkey. He pointed out his niece had Downs Syndrome, and she was a decent hard working type who would have sent the guy to jail without a second thought because just because someone was retarded did not mean they didn't know what was right and wrong. He then accused the manager of taking advantage to the retarded, "probably doesn't pay him regular wages," mouthing off like an orator with his balls in a vice. Now, this DM was known to be a little off center, so whether he actually had a niece with Down's is up for scrutiny; he was the same guy who set fire to a guy's BMW for blocking his store dumpster too many times. But he said it with such conviction and ire that I didn't dare question it at the time. My DM's unwelcome response infuriated the RR manager, stating no Crown Books employee would be allowed to eat at Roy Rogers again. I felt no small part of me die at this announcement, since I avoided that place like yuppies avoid Atlanta roadside rib joints.
This became moot anyway: when Roy Rogers got bought out by Hardee's, and the entire staff was sent back to the rock they slithered out from.
A few years later, I was on the local bus, and I saw (by a blue apron) the guy got a new job, working at Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Make what jokes you will about dipping sauce, because I certainly took that liberty myself.