It was like something was missing in his brain that computed and understood his surroundings; the new hire Trevor interviewed impeccably, but then seemed to miss the concept of how to act in social situations. He was far more reserved than he promised to be from stories he had shared from his supposedly successful time working for Spencer’s, and his response to various occurrences around him was never the right one. A customer would ask for help and he would shrug or direct them to someone else. When asked to help the customer himself he would make up fictional information that was not at all true, but what I think he truly believed to be.
It had been an exceptionally busy Thursday when a tall lanky and balding man entered the store. I was behind the register when I greeted him as I was setting up a new impulse display that we had just received in that day’s shipment. “Hi, how are you doing today?”
Our register was shaped like a horse shoe, and then blocking the open end was another display case which made for two small openings for entering and exiting on an individual basis both on the same end of the cash wrap. “I”m not too good,” he started as he lingered eerily in the center of the small opening of the cash wrap.
“Oh? I’m sorry to hear that, is there anything we can do to help?”
“Actually yes,” he began to lean in, at first I could not tell if he perhaps was dizzy from the drink or attempting to make his way in my direction. He eyed me up and down slowly as a smile broke and his arms began to raise. “I really could use a hug.” He began to make his way behind the register, blocking both methods of escape for me. I was cornered, and Trevor just stood on the other side of the counter staring in wonderment of the occurrence.
In the entryway of the store stood an 8 ft leather gorilla. “That gorilla gives great hugs,” I suggested in attempt to distract him long enough to run past him.
His pace didn’t slow, and his eyes didn’t shift from me, his creepily wry smile never even budged as he added, “A hug from a gorilla isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
I was now pressed up against the back wall of the cash wrap, as he came so close that I could feel the warmth form his body, I could see only the blue of his shirt, and all I could think was, Trevor do something! He continued to just stand and stare, this boy who looked like he had taken down his fair share of bulls single handedly at a rodeo or two, stood with his hands in his pockets, watching, completely unfazed by my present state of horror.
The man’s arms felt as if they were slowly closing in when suddenly, through the large chamber doors of the store came barreling in a mob of at least 20 freshmen boys and girls. They all yelled in unison, “free hugs! Could anyone use free hugs?” The sound of their stampede gave the man a start as he quickly jumped back. The leader of the group was a boy who looked as if he could be a professional grade linebacker and I began to frantically point at the man, “Here, here! This man was just asking for a hug, he told me he desperately needed it.” As I was pointing the man appeared as if he was unable to catch his balance as he continued to back away with a face full of shock and blunder. With my command the kids charged the man who suddenly picked up his pace and footed it out the cage door on the opposite side of the shop. I watched through the display window as he sped past the crowds, followed by the mass of teens yelling and giggling after him.
I turned to Trevor, “You could have said something; helped somehow.”
“Because that was terrifying Trev, I had no point of escape.”
“I don’t think he was going to hurt you, he just wanted a hug.”
I then proceeded to contact security, I wasn’t going to leave those kids alone with that creepy man.