Recently I wrote in my story Grocery about my fears of losing my mind and potentially going to jail for it. This is going to be the story of how I kept my cool as best I have since my legal troubles — and how I nearly went to prison for it anyways.
I was on probation for felonies, aware that this meant I was unable to own a gun. My awareness however seemed to skip over the fact that I could not even handle a gun. For months I’d been going up to the mountains shooting with a friend.
I am comfortable with and know how to properly handle a firearm.
At this time I was working for Hustle Paintball — and if I wasn’t the Operations Manager yet, was very close to it. Small place, I got in at the basement. I was “important”. Because of this I knew the combination to the gun safe as well as the fact that it already had a handgun with a round in the chamber — and a full magazine to go in case of emergency. I want to say it was a glock.
I look forward to when I do, because I can — I have not held a gun since last holding that one.
I was working late in our first retail location. We had extended some hours of the week to around eight at night and took shifts taking care of it. This was paintball, and I love the sport — but we had plenty of bad customers like any industry.
The particular type of customer I am talking about is the kind that likes to talk really big, buy really small, and then return something after it has been used for a full day. That type of customer.
We as a respectable establishment had allowed it to go on long enough, and stopped allowing it. Then the customer stooped to sending his kid in alone, trying to guilt us into giving the refund.
I had finally had it that day. I wasn’t going to give him the refund no matter what. I explained to the kid exactly what his dad was doing and how it wasn’t cool. That no person with respect would be doing that.
I don’t think dad liked that very much. After the kid left the store, most likely to relay everything just said — he came in with a very large huff.
Now I am not a large man, but I am not small either. I’m more of an actual man now, physically than I was then — and it seems I have gotten slightly taller as well. I was at this time a good 5′ 11″ (and some change), 195 lbs., though.
This chucklehead about my height, maybe a little shorter — looked like his upper half was just sweating with the steroids in his blood stream. Certainly seemed to enjoy his tanning beds, too.
Hey, you do you, I got no problems with it — just don’t be this guy aside from that. I’m only describing him.
With this wild character established, I can continue about how he charged in across an overly large, open, and empty retail area. He had such purpose and anger in his strides. It was really a sight to behold — how confident he was that his money was going to be returned to him and that he would be allowed to continue shopping at the establishment. Like a retail location can’t handle losing a single unreasonable customer.
The veins in his neck were already popping when he addressed me as “kid” — I believe I was twenty-one at this time. Definitely a kid in many ways, definitely didn’t like being called that. It’s been long now and I tuned him out enough during — so I can’t remember minute details of the dialogue.
I just remember a lot of flapping arms and pointing, with threats of friends and loss of money.
I remember telling him politely over and over that his business was no longer allowed at the establishment. That we would not be accepting his return or his refund, as our legal return policy stated we did not have to — and that I would like him to leave the premises as soon as possible. That he was now trespassing.
I knew there were cameras watching, which was a good thing. I however did not think about the fact that they did not record audio. A big mistake I made in being able to press charges or not at the end of this whole ordeal was the fact that I did not point to the exit. I don’t think this is an experience I will go through again as I do not ever intend to work in retail again, but I will never forget that mistake — nor will I repeat it.
Angry-Chicken-Leg-Muscle-Man, didn’t want to hear any of it and refused to go anywhere.
So I did the next best thing, I pretended to give him what he wanted. I told him that if he walked calmly to the superfluous foyer we had, that I would go into the office and process his refund (as I needed to use “managerial computer powers” to do so). I would then walk out of the office, cash in hand and give it to him. The caveat being he had to wait patiently and quietly.
This is when I made a decision for my and others’ safety that could have changed my life forever.
I was not at the store by myself, though I was the only one at the store running it. A couple of friends and one of their girlfriends were there. One of them was at the time the resident part-time paintball marker tech and he was doing maintenance on a bunch of them.
When I walked into the office, which Mr. Aggressive could see through a window from the foyer; I went directly to the gun safe. Made another mistake here — know the gun was a glock now. Did just about everything correctly, I pulled it out of the safe, barrel down towards the ground. Proper finger discipline straight out along grip, above the trigger, not touching it. Then I slipped this loaded and ready firearm with no standard safety — into my waistband.
Mr. Aggressive did not take kindly to this action and left the premises immediately. He then called the cops from his truck. I’m very happy he called the police officers, I just wish they could have arrested him for falsifying a report. This man had already showed his true colors earlier trying to use his kid as a guilt chip on adults for a whack refund request. He took it a step further though when he told the police that I pointed the gun at him, cocked to the side like some wannabe gangster and said:
“You scared, bitch? You want some?”
I get if you’re going to try and embellish to make a point, but at least make it somewhat believable. Thank goodness for those cameras. The police officers honestly seemed inclined to believe him until I showed them the footage. That was only the beginning of my concern, though.
I remember them asking me if there was anything I needed to tell them for the report. Couldn’t tell at that time if they had already run my details and were probing — or if they actually didn’t know. So I told them all about my probation and what I was going through. I told them my concern and that I really didn’t want this to negatively affect my recovery and rehabilitation as a citizen.
I was honest.
If they hadn’t before, I know they did after this because things took an even more serious turn. It went from them asking me questions like I was a victim — to treating me like a criminal. They told me to sit tight and that they needed to get in touch with their superior. I got to sit for a good long while.
If I remember correctly it was about forty five minutes later one of the officers came back with more warmth again. He reminded me that I am on probation for some serious felonies and that I cannot handle a gun. He asked me if I understood that. I told him I understood that I could not be in possession of one by law, but I took that to mean I could not own one. Not that I could not touch one. I was educated this is not the case.
Some may call it luck, I call it being a responsible adult. I was let off with a warning.
I know they talked to my P.O. for a time, I think a lot of me getting let off and not being charged with breaking my probation — is how responsible I was about it.
I did not miss an appointment. I was not ever late. I was always in touch and kept them up to date. I took my probation extremely seriously from day one because I had friends growing up that got on probation for the smallest thing and were still on it ten years later because they couldn’t make smart decisions. Probation gave me the discipline I didn’t manage to learn growing up.
To this day, though. As a normal functioning citizen that is not seeking trouble, this is the most I had feared for my safety and others — from another human being. I feel pretty proud of myself for keeping my calm and for taking care of the situation in a really logical fashion. Especially because at this time I was not taking medication or admitting to my mental illness.
I’m not exactly sure what the deeper meaning is in this one other than keep your cool, be smart, and learn from your mistakes.
It’s not the easiest thing to do all these things, all the time. Though I do think striving to can help us through a lot.
Thank you for reading.
©2017 Trevor Elms.
Featured photo by Douglas Montgomery ©2011, Trevor Elms pictured.