Don't kill me, have a cruller

August 07, 2000

Don't kill me, have a cruller

When I was a boy, my daddy sat me on his knee and said "Son, always remember, heroics and convenience stores don't mix."

Obviously, no one told Antonio Feliciano, a clerk at a Martinsburg, W.Va., 7-Eleven who foiled an armed robbery by wrenching a sawed-off shotgun from the would-be robber's mitts.

Last week, Feliciano was fired for breaking up the heist.

When asked why, 7-Eleven said it was because they care about people.

"No asset in a 7-Eleven store is worth defending with an employee's life," said a company official, who has obviously never tried the Little Debbie cream-filled oatmeal cookies. (Next time I'm in a 7-Eleven, I'm asking for three cinnamon-raisin assets).

It just seems a little harsh to me that a man who was able to disarm a crook and potentially save his own life and the lives of his customers gets fired for his trouble.


If he'd done nothing, he might have gotten fired in a much more permanent way.

I know the rules that banks and companies like 7-Eleven cite: If someone walks into a store exercising his God-given 2nd Amendment rights and demanding money, you give him the cash no questions asked.

But shouldn't there be a fillip of flexibility? If someone's waving a barrel in your snout, wouldn't there be sort of a natural tendency to grab and give a yank?

Or do you calmly think back to company training and say "sorry sir, but company rule 935, bylaw 611-A states that I must be shot" or "Please, help yourself to 7-Eleven's assets."

What if they put the gun on the counter and go pour themselves a cup of that good 7-Eleven coffee? What if they drop the gun. Do you pick it up, dust it off and hand it back?

If someone says "stop me before I kill again," I'd like to think the people around him would oblige, whether it's in a convenience store or even - and I've thought this over good and hard - or even at a yard sale.

If I'm sounding overly defensive of 7-Eleven clerks, it's because I love them. Sheetz, too. They are the only people in the world who really understand me.

They see me coming and they have the black coffee, can of Skoal and pepperoni eclair out on the counter waiting for me by the time I get in the door. They know my routine, and there's comfort in that.

And they don't criticize. No lectures about cancer, obesity or tooth decay. A 7-Eleven clerk has never said "Tim, that's your third pint of Ben and Jerry's today." Would we be faced with a 50 percent divorce rate if all people were as non-judgmental as a Sheetz employee? I think not.

And patience? Hmph, don't mention it. From people who can't noodle it through that you have to lift the lever before you pump to people who stand at the counter at the front of a long line of customers scratching lottery tickets, they deal with some of the certifiably slowest individuals on earth without complaint.

I would last about three hours before I took someone and crammed him into the Slurpee machine. Oh, occasionally you will hear from them a discouraging word; this is a convenience store, not home on the range. But usually they smile and never ask of you anything more demanding than "Will there be anything else?"

And if a clerk does all this and fights crime, too, I don't fire him, I give him a raise in assets.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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