As its January and some of us are feeling the hit of the post-Christmas blues, I’ve brought back the ‘that time when…’ series. This week my guest is Alex who is sharing his post!
“That time when a black market deal got weird”
Working in retail is like being in the midst of a nature documentary production. The way humankind collectively decided to become the dumbest version of ourselves has made me believe that “customers” are a separate species which needs to be studied thoroughly; and if they’re not being incredibly stupid, they’re weird as hell.
While I’m not a certified anthropologist observing these strange tribal behaviours of customers, I can at the very least tell the tales. Like that one time when a customer decided to stick around in the parking lot for a potential black-market deal I would have never expected.
I work at a liquor store which, for those who live in countries that don’t have a stigmatic fear of booze, is the primary source of alcohol purchases in Canada. It was about 3:30 PM because I had just arrived for the late shift and the day staff was still on duty for another 30 minutes. The time is important because I want everyone to know that it was still daylight outside.
My store is pretty tiny so we don’t get a huge rush of customers. The subject of this story came in, picked out his purchase fairly quickly, and completed the transaction with no issues. This was a miracle in the world of retail, especially since he didn’t ask any stupid questions. But like I said earlier: if they’re not stupid, they’re weird.
Did I mention the store is small? Well, the parking lot is not much bigger. We have about five parking spots and they are directly in front of the store. There isn’t much “hiding” you can do in that small but open space. A few minutes after the customer left the store, I noticed that he was still hanging out in the parking lot, standing next to his car. He was smoking a cigarette so I figured he was just having a puff before heading home. But then we finally approached the weird.
An older gentleman arrived on his bicycle. He stopped next to the customer’s car. It seemed like they knew each other cause there was no hesitation in their greeting. The customer then immediately opened the trunk of his car and showed the old man his wares. This whole thing was anything but covert. If this was a drug deal, it must have been some hard shit since almost anything in Canada is legal now. But maybe it wasn’t drugs and instead other stolen goods, like car stereos (do people still steal car stereos or is this an exclusive 90’s thing?). I took a closer look, more out of curiosity than a need for evidence to call the police. This is what the guy had in his trunk:
That’s…that’s bread. A whole bunch of sliced bread, mostly in unmarked, clear plastic bags.
This raises so many questions. Did I miss a recent inflation of bread prices? Maybe a grain tax that will crush you financially unless there is no paper trail? Has the war on carbs gone too far? When Canada legalized weed, did they accidentally ban wheat? Will I go to jail if I make myself a sandwich?
What was with that bread? There were grocery stores nearby where the bicyclist could have purchased it from like a normal person. Why is he choosing to meet this guy in a liquor store parking lot and get bread from a car’s trunk? Even if this dude is a start-up artisan baker who can’t afford to lease a store building, I would prefer any other method over shady trunk purchases.
I will never get answers for my questions. I was too stunned to walk outside and ask for a slice of information. The one true breadwinner never returned. I can only assume that whatever organization was running the illegal bread trade in our city was on his trail of crumbs, and if he was ever found loafing around these parts, he’d be toast.