On my last day of work at the Co-Op, I did a quick equation to see if I could figure out how many customers I’d checked out over the last 4 years. The number was in the 6-digit range, yet it seemed like I knew everyone that came in by name. Truth be told, it was usually the same 100 people, day in and day out, for 1500 straight days.
I would like to tell you about one customer in particular. Let’s call him “Chet”. I’m protecting his identity strictly for my safety, for you see, “Chet” is completely insane.
Here’s a little backstory on Chet. He has an alcohol problem, a smattering of psychological problems and an anger management problem. He represents the Holy Trinity of what a serial killer profile looks like. Speaking of what he looks like, that did a lot as far as his frightening image went. He looked like Ed Norton in “American History X” (minus the sexy), with the eyes of Marty Feldmann.
I’m not kidding. He was that scary. I’m almost positive that he had the same tattoo.
Doing a circuit court search on Chet revealed a large sheet of offenses:
4 separate DUI charges (with heavy fines)
3 times driving with a suspended license (including jail time)
1 count of driving an ATV on the highway (with suspended license)
3 restraining orders
3 counts of disorderly conduct (including jail time)
1 count of domestic abuse (including jail time)
Most of these charges happened just before or just after leaving the Co-Op on any given day.
I first met Chet on the 2nd day of business at the Co-Op. All of the employees were still figuring out how everything worked, and the computer system was full of bugs. Chet walked in and bought some candy and a sledgehammer. I had no idea who he was, and nobody took the time to tell me to be careful around him. I began to ring him up, when the computer decided to lock up on me.
Thinking he would be decent about it, I told him that there was a light problem with the system, and I’d be more than happy to check him out at the next available computer. This apparently was too much for Chet to handle. He stared me down for about 20 seconds with those crazy-ass eyes, then proceeded to berate me for being an idiot. I felt horrible, and worse still, I couldn’t defend myself whatsoever. I was terrified of the guy, and he was holding a sledgehammer. In retrospect, there were so many things you would like to say to guys like that, but in the end you just nod and accept the gentle criticism. He eventually left, and 10 minutes later he was arrested for using the sledgehammer to smash up his neighbors car.
That night, I wanted to quit my job. He gave me a very poor impression of the types of people I would run into, and he also really freaked me out. I never wanted to see him again.
But of course, I would see Chet every few days. He would show up just before closing and buy a ton of things that would take forever to individually ring up (a giant bag filled with 60 different kinds of PVC attachments, for example). He’d mumble constantly, and when you’d ask him to repeat himself, he’d yell. If you didn’t ask him to repeat himself, you’d hear him wrong and have to start the transaction all over, and again he’d yell. There was no winning with this guy.
Within a few months, Chet lost his driver’s license due to him being a filthy drunk. Always the resourceful fellow, he got into the habit of driving his lawnmower to the Co-Op with a flat trailer attached to it . I could literally hear him coming from a mile away, and I had 15 minutes to get ready for him. It was torture.
On one particular day, he bought an armload of candy bars and soda, several bags of ready-mix concrete and 12 bottles of ammonia. As he putted off into the distance, trying to steer while drinking a Mountain Dew and eating a bag of chips, he turned hard into a ditch and tipped the lawnmower over. I didn’t get the chance to see it, but the mental image alone was enough to make me tear up with delight. An hour later, the cops were at his house because he had filled his ditches with concrete and covered his driveway with sod. He said he did this to keep the frogs out of his garage.
Chet took his “sod” case to the town board, where it abruptly ended with him making a death threat to one of the head members. The police were notified.
Still, he fought against these frogs, renting a Caterpillar and quickly running it into our gas pumps. You’re not supposed to operate heavy machinery when your inebriated and have no license.
The problems and verbal abuse continued for several more months. It was becoming too much for anyone to handle. Something had to be done before he killed somebody. I was honestly considering quitting my job because of him, and getting up for work in the morning was becoming almost impossible. One night before going to sleep, I wished out loud that I would never see Chet again, knowing full well that tomorrow would bring another day of his intimidation and bullying.
I got to work, and my manager was the first one to run into me. He told me that the night before, Chet was (once again) arrested for driving drunk with a suspended license, and he was going to jail for 4 months. With that, he was forced to attend all sorts of rehab classes, and take scores of pills for his various problems.
About 6 months later, a car pulled up to the Co-Op, and out of the passenger side emerged Chet. He was accompanied by his brother, who was now his legal guardian.
Chet looked like he had gained at least 50 pounds (because of all the pills he was taking), and he was nothing more than a glazed-over shell of a man. He said please and thank you, was soft-spoken and polite, and looked like he had absolutely no idea as to what was going on. Apparently, he went through the system, and this was the best that the system could do for him. Instead of hurting other people and himself, he was now incapable of even functioning without someone living with him. That was the last time I ever saw him.
So long Chet, wherever you are. Ya’ crazy bastard.