When I was 18 I opened a small game store in my home town and I was fortunate to run it for about eight years. I have many great memories that have developed into great conversation and stories with the gamers in the boardgaming community. Below is a true story, with the names changed:
My store was on a main street of my small town, surrounded by other business that were about 60% antique shops and 30% bars. The store was open from 11am to 10pm daily,and I never kicked people out, so often we were open until midnight or later as customers just kept playing games over and over. In the summer, the temperature dropped at night enabling us to turn off the fans that kept us cool during the day, creating an eerie atmosphere from the absence of that monotonous fan sound we’ve heard all day. Wood floors and a high ceiling contributed to our late-night game store environment, along with our relatively older and quieter customer base that weren’t under some type of parental curfew. At that time of night my store was the only place open that didn’t serve alcohol, but from a distance you’d just see the light of our store pouring onto the sidewalk, door open, looking like any other business on the street. I assume that is why this drunk guy story isn’t my only one.
One night I was in the store with only two customers, Gary and Darius. They were playing back to back Magic: The Gathering games, sitting at the table nearest my counter, as I sorted cards from a recent M:tG release. Gary was just a kid, about 15-16 years old, and was known to be a pretty good player. Darius was an older guy about 32-35 years old, and was enjoying learning new things as he was challenged continually from the younger gamer. Their games would normally take about 20 minutes to play broken up into about 5 minutes of actual gameplay, and 15 minutes of deck theorycrafting and normal gamer-bonding/joking around.
Then some dude in his early 40s rolls into the store, slightly shambling like a zombie. Very clearly drunk. Darius looks at me, rolls his eyes, and gets back to the game. Gary has his back to me, but he reaches over and grabs the phone, handing it to me in case I need to “make the call.” I set the phone down and get ready to ignore this guy until he realizes he is in the wrong place or at the very least helpfully suggest to him that he is in a retail game store, and there is nothing here for him.
Instead of leaving, he grabs a chair and ceremoniously sits at the end of the table that they are playing on, right in between Gary and Darius. As he does, he very loudly exclaims, “WHAT IS GOING ON HEEEERRRE??!” He says it in a weird kind of way that was less annoying and more like he really wanted to know what game was being played. Gary sheepishly informs him, “It’s just a game, a card game, Magic.” And that seems to satisfy the guy’s question. He slumps in his chair, his head tips back a bit, like he is about to fall asleep, and he starts to mutter to himself. Darius gives me the “Good lord, THIS guy” look and continues to play cards into his play area, focusing on his conversation with Gary.
I should note here that Darius was in the Army. After talking to him about his time in the service, I realized that he mainly packed his squad’s gear through long missions on foot. He carried the heavy artillery-type stuff. The dude was HUGE and was incredibly tough.
Ok, so, back in my store: Out of nowhere Drunkie reaches into his jacket like THIS:
He then yells again, confrontation in his voice, “I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE F!@$# IS GOING ON IN HERE!!!” I remember this moment VERY clearly. The guy is leaning back, still slumped in his chair like a highschooler that just can’t even. His right hand behind the left lapel of his overly worn red windbreaker. Gary turning in his chair backing up in fright. I’m looking RIGHT at the guy from behind my counter, trying to see what he is about to pull out of his jacket. I didn’t even have time to be afraid before I realize that Darius’s white plastic lawnchair has hit the floor spinning and he is rising up with a clenched fist back far behind his torso, ready to deliver the most amazing Superman punch ever seen by mankind.
As Darius’s upward motion changes to a one-foot charge forward, with his right fist vaulting towards this dude’s face, Drunkie pulls NOTHING out of his jacket, completely oblivious to Darius’s presence. His hand is held high, shaped around a badge that is not there, and he yells, “I AM WITH THE FBI AND I NEED TO THE KNOW WHAT THE F!@$# IS GOING ON HERE!!!” Darius pulls his strike back, grabs his chair and slowly slinks back into his chair, looking at me with eyes that say, “I almost killed this dude, get him out of here.”
I didn’t want to call the police, I kinda pride myself as a guy who can deal with anything, so I just loudly and clearly say, “Buddy, you need to leave.” His body language indicated that he heard me and even agreed with me. I think though that his mind thought that he had left but ultimately forgot to bring his body along. He just slumped back down and got quiet for a few seconds. Holding the phone, I’m looking at him the whole time with that look of “Can I help you?!?” on my face. He then points directly at Gary and confronts him more agressively, “I KNOW YOU ARE A F!@#ING LIAR!” So, I dial 911 while the guys do their best to just ignore this yelling dude that is cemented into his chair through a lack of being able to control his legs enough to get up.
Less than a minute later a police officer comes in and I know her. I’m in a small town and we only have one female police officer and she is tiny, but I’ve seen her enough and had to rely on her in my store enough (more stories to come) that I know we are going to be just fine. At this point, the gaming was done and Gary was next to my counter calling his mom for a ride. Drunkie had stood up to figure out what the hell were up to this fine evening, verbally attacking Gary with all his might, while Gary was assuring his mom that the guy screaming expletives in my store was no one he knew. The officer stands right in between Drunkie and Gary and then starts talking to ME. She starts to assure me that “even though (she) is small in size (she) can handle this situation just fine.” Laughing, I start to tell her that I know who she is and I’m not worried, which admittedly was a weird conversation to have with a police officer but I guess she’s had to say this to people enough that it’s become part of her “I’m here to help” presentation. (Kinda sad commentary on society there really.)
MEANWHILE this guy is still screaming like crazy (mostly AT Gary), getting more and more indignant as time passes, and she gets ready to take him out of my store. I’m facing them with my back to my front door which is about 40 feet away. Through the wood floorboards, my feet feel something MONSTROUS take a step into my store. I turn around and I am looking at the biggest police officer I’ve ever seen. Dude’s so big I imagine everyone just calls him “tiny” for ironic purposes. He points his huge arm at Drunkie and booms out, “LET’S GO!” motioning outside with the rest of his body. Drunkie looks over, stops yelling, and walks toward the exit. The female officer grabs his two wrists together in her hand and guides him outside. The rest of the police in my small town then show up, about 5 or 6 in all. (most of them were likely around the bars at night, it’s really the only place that anything happens that would need police assistance in this area).
So, THIS is when this guy decides to “make his move” and starts to fight. In the frame of my front door, this group of officers is pinning this guy down trying to get him under control, while Drunkie is yelling INTO my store, “HELP ME OUT!! HELP MEEEEEEeeeee!” Gary, Darius and I look at each other laughing and I quickly close up my store. I realize now that this is likely why I don’t drink, I don’t want to do anything that could get me close to being THAT guy. Some guy that got his butt handed to him on the doorstep of a random game store and probably doesn’t remember it the next day.