TW: Swearing, violence, mild descriptions of blood and injury.
This is a true story, but names have been left vague/changed for privacy. I'm trying to get back into the swing of writing things, so I might as well take advantage of this prompt.
“We’ll be closing in five minutes, please bring your items to the front and thank you for shopping with us.”
I didn’t pay much attention to the woman who turned around on her way out to scream at my coworker to shut up. The registers were busy, and the woman was leaving. I also didn’t pay attention to my coworker, and maybe that was a mistake.
“Did you hear that? She did not just tell me to shut up!”
The supervisor came out of the back to help us ring up the remaining customers. She came to my register, as I was the new hire, and the people at my register had a mountain of cheap second hand goods. My coworker rang up her last customer, and then there were five of us. Three employees, and the mother and daughter purchasing all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender among other things at my register.
That was when the car pulled up to the front. One minute everything was normal, and the next my coworker was outside screaming obscenities at the car. The woman from before had come back for some ungodly reason. Her window was rolled down and she was giving as good as she was getting.
The profanities were loud enough to hear through the closed doors. My supervisor stared out the front, “Oh god. When did she get outside?”
It was true, we hadn’t seen her leave. She had been at her register one minute and the next she was outside, like she had teleported out of the sheer desire to exact revenge on the woman who had told her to shut up.
Everyone inside the store was frozen. The mother and her daughter were watching just as raptly as my supervisor and I were. In a blink and you’ll miss it moment, my coworker ran at the car window and shoved both her arms into the car.
Yes, the girls were fighting.
My vantage point was terrible for the ongoing battle. My coworker had shoved her upper body into the car window and she was blocking the view. Then she pulled back, and I saw the woman in the car clutching a fistfull of my coworker’s hair. She was trapped, held in place by that iron grip on her hair.
The woman in the car hit the gas and started driving, finally letting go of my coworker instead of ripping her hair out. My coworker staggered around the side of the building and disappeared from view, and I continued to ring up the customers. What else could I do?
My coworker finally stalked back into the store as I was finishing up. She was bleeding, panting, and her hair was a mess. The supervisor tried to get her to calm down.
“Why don’t you go in back and count your register. When you’re done you can go home.”
Her register was unlocked and my coworker took the cash box into the back office. I finished the sale, told the poor customers to have a good day, and then I was sent in back to count my register as well. I got back just in time to run into my coworker, who was muttering swear words under her breath.
“Are you alright?” I asked, trying to be kind after I had just seen her go absolutely feral outside. I was a little scared of her, I’ll admit.
My coworker thrust her arm out, pointing at the blood.
“She fucking bit me!”
Ah, yes, the deadliest of moves in a pandemic. Clearly the woman in the car knew what she was doing.
“Ow, I hope those heal quickly.”
My coworker headed for the door, talking to her mom on the phone as she left the store for the night. She slammed the door behind her, leaving me completely speechless at everything I had just seen.
Now I was not close to this particular coworker. She was great at trash talking the assistant manager, a seemingly kind woman who I was also afraid of, and she was often hidden in the store on her phone while I worked the register, but out of all the cashiers I worked alongside, she wasn’t the worst. That title was reserved for my weekday coworker, a man who overshared every aspect of his life with me while also trying to spread his alt-right propaganda.
I started counting my register, making sure the money was all there so I wouldn’t get in trouble. My supervisor came back to the office to help.
“You’re going to have to file a witness report.”
“Can I let my mom know so she doesn’t wonder why I’m late?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
I sent the text to my mom, Going to be a little late. Have to file a witness report.
My supervisor was a tired looking woman who constantly compared me to her favorite niece. I wouldn’t say she was motherly to me, but she did, in fact, act like an aunt. She sat there as I wrote out my witness report, and then she asked me if I could come in and work the next day if they needed me. I gave an inconclusive answer and suggested they call me if they need me. With that, I left.
The next day I was called into work, and despite it being my day off, I didn’t know how to say no. They also called in my weekday coworker. As I was waiting for my register, one of the workers in the back approached me.
“Andrea called in this morning to ask what time she should come into work and got fired over the phone.” He said, “What happened?”
All eyes were on me as I told the story. One minute she had been in the store, and the next she had both arms and her head in this car window to fight someone. I told them how she had been bit multiple times, and how she had left in a huff. The entire situation was absurd, and despite the fact that I enjoyed telling people what had happened, I still regretted coming into work. I got my register and was signed into the computer, and thus began the work day once again.
I did not get a day off to replace the one I had worked, but considering management once forgot to give me a lunch break I wasn’t surprised by that, or the fact that they started asking me to fill in for my old coworker on the Sunday shifts. Eventually I would leave that job for an unpaid internship that offered much different drama but better coworkers and conditions.
No matter how long it’s been, or how distanced I’ve become from that job, I will never forget that night, nor the final words I heard my coworker say as she left for the last time.
“Mom, I got in a fucking fight!”