Magic days when you are young and stupid!
I have been remiss. I thought I had made a good effort to recount most of the really interesting things that happened to me in the early years. I did not. I forgot about the Raytown Bulls. How could I do that?
Having spend many years as a fry cook at 70 Hi Drive-In, I found myself out of money and with little prospect of being able to carry on at Central Missouri State. I needed a job. And, a job that actually paid full-time wages.
Therefore, I went to work for the Southland Corp – 7 Eleven to you and I.
I soon learned that I was not actually cut out for the retail trade. A valuable lesson, since I have never tried it since, and I'm now retirement age.
Nevertheless I did my best and increased my income dramatically. After training and whilst waiting for a full-time permanent job at a store, I did some shifts all over as relief for folks who were on vacation or sick or whatever. That's how I came to be at the 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road.
Raytown is a really interesting place. It's sort of south of Independence and north of Lee's Summit and east of Kansas City. Although surrounded by these other conurbations, Raytown is a entity in itself with its own government, fire and police service: rather like a boil on your bum – it's just there.
The 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road was a small one and not very busy. I was down for the afternoon and evening shift, as I recall, from about 3 till 11 – closing time. When I got there, I met the manager, who was there on his own (I told you it wasn't very busy), and he showed me around, though almost all 7 Eleven's are exactly the same. Before he left he gave me his home phone in case I needed anything – a fact which will become important later. I settled into the evening shift, waiting on customers and re-stocking as required.
7 Eleven are big on security. Every 7 Eleven has a safe. It's one of those hole in the floor safes in two parts. There is the main part, which you open with the combination and a slot at the side which you can push bills down into the bottom. The manager told me I did not need the combination to the safe as I would only put money in when required. Company policy was not to keep cash in any quantity in the cash register (till to British readers) but to push it periodically down the slot and into the bottom of the safe where it could only be retrieved with the combination. Sound procedure. But, in this case, one that caused me some difficulties.
Getting close to closing time and there was no-one about, so I decided to grab a few extra minutes and lock the doors early – only about 3 minutes - lest they try to track me down after all these years and claim back the 20 cents they might think I owe them. After I locked the doors, I went into the cold store to stock up the Coke and milk for the morning. The manager would be impressed!
From the inside of the cold store I heard a knocking, so (very stupidly) I came out to investigate. Someone was knocking on the door. I went to the door. A guy was standing outside coughing into his handkerchief. Through the cough he asked if I had change for five dollars. Very, very stupidly I opened the door to explain that all the money was locked up in the safe. Bad move.
He produced a gun (looked like a .38 from where I was standing) and told me to get down on the floor. I did.
He told me to crawl to the middle of the store and behind the serving station, where the safe and cash register were located. I did.
He told me to take my shirt off ( a rather swank little number complete with 7 Eleven badge) – this will become important later.
Whilst I was lying on the floor face down I could see little of what he was up to. Eventually the subject of the safe came up, as in “open the safe”. I distinctly remember saying, “I know you're not going to believe this, but I don't know the combination”. And, I explained why.
Thinking fast, I said that I could phone the manager and ask him if he would give me the combination. We went to the phone (pay phone) and dialled the number – then he sensed that this was not going to work and told me to hang up. Back we went to the serving station. Back on the floor, face down. He found the money order machine which was attached to the counter by a wire. He undid the wire and used it to loosely tie my hands behind my back. He took a roll of nickels from the till, a whole 5 dollars worth of five cent pieces – that's all the money that was left in there. He took my wallet – maybe a couple of bucks. He picked up what he thought were money orders (money orders are like postal orders) and, after admonishing me not to move for five minutes, he left with the money order machine and the money order receipts and my five dollars.
I stayed still for maybe a minute as I had heard the door close and could see no reason why he would try to trick me (how trusting are the young)!!
It took me about 10 seconds to get rid of the wire around my wrists. I got up. He was gone. I went to the phone to ring the police. I was lucky, somehow he had left a dime in the till. I simply said that the 7 Eleven at 87th and Raytown Road has been robbed – come quick.
Now, the Raytown Bulls were not, and for all I know, are not known for their subtle arts of persuasion. I decided that the best place to be when they arrived would be outside in plain view. I went to the cooler and got a Dr Pepper. I went outside and stood leaning on the outside Coke machine in front of the store. I distinctly heard the Bull's sirens in the distance.
I looked up and my assailant appeared from around the side of the building. He said something like, “You called the cops!”
I said, “No, no – I called the manager and I don't know what he did” (sound of sirens in the distance).
He shouted, “Get back in the store!” I needed little persuasion.
Back I went on the floor and behind the counter. I noticed that he had put on my 7 Eleven shirt. ( I believe that what really happened was that after he left he realised that he had only the money order receipts – not worth a jot – and a $5 roll of nickels and decided – very stupidly to come back and have another go at the safe. )
The scene: I'm in my T-shirt and lying on the floor – he's standing by the till with my 7 Eleven shirt on. The bulls came charging in – I could hear them.
First cop shouts, “Which way did he go?”
Crook replies, “That way!” And he points.
I'm dumbfounded – but realise that he's got my shirt on and I'm not visible from where the cop was.
I stay put.
Eventually another cop arrives and is not so easily put off. I can see a bit of what transpires by lifting my head slightly and turning my head very slightly. The cop ( confused as only flat-foots can be ) keeps coming forward questioning the crook. As they draw even Crook grabs the cop and tries to get cop's gun from its holster.
Ever wonder why the cops have those straps on their holsters? This is why. Crook had the cop by the neck trying to get the gun from the holster which is strapped down. Cop is still as the crook still has his own gun at the cops's neck. More bulls arrive. There is a scuffle ( out of my sight ) and noise. I hear the door open and close. I stay still. Seemed a damn good idea to me.
Some time passes. I stay put.
Curiosity overcomes me. I get up and look. A cop shouts at me, “Get down and put your hands behind your back!” I do.
He cuffs me. I protest.
“I'm the guy who called you, I work here!”
Though not entirely convinced he lets me up and removes the cuffs. Another cop arrives and informs me that they saw me but thought that I was dead! Magic.
I go outside where the bulls are cuffing the bad guy and sticking him in the back of a Raytown police car.
Off they go leaving me behind. No such thing as crisis counselling in those days. I go home and recount my adventures to all and sundry. I'm probably in shock but am too stupid to realise.
I remember that the crook has my wallet. I call the Raytown police. They explain that it is evidence for the trial.
I never got it back.