Anonymous 7m 1,765
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
When I was 25 years old, I got a part time job working for a juice bar. This was a small shop owned and operated by a married couple: Karen and Peter. When I first interviewed, I didn’t think about it at the time, but Karen kept asking me if I drink alcohol, and if I did, how much. I told her that because my father was a raging alcoholic, I don’t touch it.
After checking my references and interviewing some other applicants, Karen called me to tell me that she was offering me the job at $10 per hour. I was elated! Of course, I accepted her offer and started work the next day.
The store was very small, and they specialized in making fresh, healthy juices. They also sold some fresh fruit salads, jello, and yogurt, but their main product was the juices. There was a shelf, behind the counter, where there was a display of clear glass, 5 sided, 12 ounce jars, mostly for decorative purposes (or so I thought). I didn’t think much about these glass jars, they were kind of pretty, but because they were on the top shelf, I really didn’t notice them.
Karen and Peter gave me a key to the store, showed me where they kept the paperwork, how the cash register worked, etc. Karen stayed with me for the first 2 days I worked in the store, making sure that I knew how to operate the store. After the third day, Karen gave me a hug and wished me luck. I was to open the store at 11:00 AM to prepare the juices for sale for that day, open to the public at 11:30 AM, working through until 3:00 PM. I was to close up at 3:00 PM, clean up, make the bank deposit, and punch out at 3:30 PM. This was a really good job because the pay was not horrible, the hours were good, I worked by myself, and the owners seemed to be very nice. Also, I treated myself to a free strawberry smoothie every day.
Well, all went well for about the first week. One night I got a call from ADT, that the store was broken into. I had to drive to the store, and meet with the police. To my surprise, Peter was there. The security company was supposed to call me, and not the owner if the store gets broken into.
The police meet with me, and ask me some questions, for my ID, etc. They then take me aside and ask me if I know who Peter is. I say, of course, he is the owner. They told me that he is very drunk and was trying to break into the store. I told them that it is his store, so he really isn’t breaking in, but I have only been working for them for a little while and don’t really know why he would be here or why he is so drunk.
The police are very nice and offer to drive him home, he refuses and asks if he can stay in the store. They tell him that he can not, and ask him if he can call someone. This is how it all started. This job was a freak show.
Well, I eventually locked up the store, finished up with the police, and drove Peter home in my car. The next day when I came to work, Peter wasn’t there, but Karen was. She grilled me about what happened, asking me about Peter. All I did was tell her what happened, the security company called me, I drove to the store, and Peter was there with the police. End of story.
She still didn’t tell me anything, just thanked me for coming down to the store in the middle of the night. She did ask me to not discuss this with anyone. Again, I didn’t really think anything about this, just thought it was a bit strange.
A week went by before I saw Peter again. He came into the store, he seemed to have trouble walking and was slurring his words quite a bit. My goodness, it was just 12:00 PM, and this man was smashed, drunk in the middle of the day. I had to wait on customers and he comes behind the counter with me, getting in the way, just messing up the operation. He then climbs on the counter, reaches for one of the clear glass jars on the top shelf, takes it down, opens the top, and guzzles! Customers were watching this. It was a freaky scene. He finished drinking from the first bottle, climbs the counter again, reaches for a second bottle, pushes it in his pocket, and walks out of the store.
When the middle-of-the-day/lunch-time-rush slows down, and after I cleaned up, I climbed on the counter and took down the remaining bottles. I opened them, and discovered that they were filled with clear schnapps (peach flavored).
Peter was a drunk. That is why he was breaking into the store the other night. That was the reason Karen asked me all of those questions about my alcohol consumption when she interviewed me. Peter was a functional drunk.
Three days later, Karen came into the store. She said she wanted to meet with me after I got off work that day. I was thinking she was going to fire me, because I knew about Peter’s drinking. She just wanted to know if he had been in the store. I didn’t want to rat him out, but I also did not feel comfortable lying to the boss lady. I did tell her that he came into the store and drank one bottle and took another one with him.
Karen exhaled, looked at the shelf of clear glass bottles. She climbed on the counter and took one down. She opened the lid and sniffed; when she detected the alcohol she said, “God Damned Son Of A Bitch. F*kicking Drunk!” She then took down all of the bottles, emptied them into the sink, washed them out, and filled them with plain water from the tap. She asked me not to tell anyone that she came into the store and if anyone asked, I should say that I don’t know what is in those glass jars.
Four or five days went by. Peter and Karen came into the store together. Karen winked at me without Peter seeing this. I was nervous, she had something in mind and I didn’t know what it was.
She said, “It is hot out today, isn’t it? I’m so thirsty.” Peter said, “Me too.”
It was 95 degrees this day, mid August, very humid. Karen said to Peter, “Get me a drink, will you hun?” He asked her what she wanted. She paused and waited and then said, “I think I’ll have one of those.” She pointed to one of the bottles on the top shelf, that she had emptied and filled with plain water. Peter stopped. He could not move.
Peter replied, “Karen, why do you want one of those? Their just for display.”
“No they’re not. Those bottles have that special mineral water in them, remember?”
“Mineral water?” he asked. “What mineral water?”
“Just get one down for me, and I’ll show you,” she said.
I could not move. What was she doing? She knows that he had alcohol in those bottles, why not just confront him? After all, he is a confirmed drunk and confronting him might be the best thing.
It was obvious that he was not going to hand her one of the bottles that he thought held his secret stash of schnapps.
She was playing a game with him, teasing him.
She climbed up on the counter and grabbed one of the bottles. We were watching her as she climbed down and opened one. She started to take a sip and just before her lips touched the bottle she asked Peter, “Want some?”
He exhaled in an exaggerated manner, relieved I guess. He took it from her and drank a sip. He had such a puzzled look on his face. He couldn’t stop himself from saying, “What the ..?”
She started laughing and then it turned into screaming, “You are nothing but a drunk! I found your stash, again. If you think you are going to ruin me again, sir you are wrong!”
These two got into a screaming match. It was horrible. I just stood there, watching. After a few minutes of this fighting, they finally walked outside of the little juice shop and continued arguing. I watched from inside the store. I saw her slap him, then he slapped her, she then kicked him in his knees and he fell down.
That was just too much for me. I stayed inside the store, wrote out a resignation letter, took the store keys out of my purse, put them in an envelope with the keys. I collected my personal belongings, walked outside where they were STILL yelling at each other. I gave Karen the envelope and told her, “I quit.” I turned around, walked to the parking lot, got in my car, didn’t look back, and drove home.
I was very upset about this, because I really did like that job. But after seeing Karen kick him in his knees, so hard that he fell down, I had to leave. How could I ever face either of them again?
At the writing of this, even though its been a few years ago, I can recall that scene as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, where my father was a mean alcoholic and my mother was a screaming, nagging woman. While I always felt cheated having these two people as parents, I felt more sorry for them, because they actually WORKED at making each other feel like shit, and they were very good at it.
Two years ago I read in the newspaper that Peter had killed himself, no surprise, in a drunk driving accident. His blood alcohol rate was three times the legal limit. He managed to cut his car in half, by driving head on, over 100 miles an hour, into a pole. As much as I feel sorry for him, I can’t help but wonder how much Karen’s sharp tongue encouraged this tragedy.
It’s not good to be a drunk. It’s not good to be around a drunk. But sometimes I think that, as bad as that is, it is so much harder to be around someone who can hurt you with her words.