I spent 22 years stocking shelves at night in a 24 hour supermarket. It was a good job. There were far fewer customers to deal with than when working days. The customers that did show up in the wee hours often appeared right after the bars closed. They were often amusing. Sometimes they were amorous and sometimes disorderly, sometimes both requiring that we call the police.
There was an old man who would often come in after midnight. Usually we'd see him after the middle of the month. I understand why now. He would take advantage of the darkened aisles and the scarcity of employees and customers to shoplift candy. I knew it and my fellow worker knew it and we let him.
He once said to my co-worker how expensive the coffee had gotten and how he couldn't afford it. The old man wore what amounted to rags. His shoes were no better. For some reason he was still alive, such as his life was. As I said we let him. We'd go to the bathroom or leave the aisle so he could fill his pockets. Mostly he stole candy.
The Last Pot Of Coffee:
tales from a 24 hour supermarket
December 17, chill and damp
the last beans are brewed
and they’re so good
pleasuring my taste buds,
lighting up dimmed foggy circuits,
On days like this I remember an old man
in ragged pants many sizes too big,
shoes split open at the sides
coming late at night to steal candy.
While looking at the coffee he remarked
how the price had gone up.
I knew what he was up to,
it was against the rules
but he already had the candy!
Walking away leaving him in the aisle
I thought: “I hope he gets the coffee too.”
Poetry and photography by David H. Roche