The following story is 100% true. And 100% unintentional.
While my second job -- at the grocery store -- generally involves me sitting in front of a computer all evening, I've been working a cash register a great deal lately. Due to some poorly timed staff turnover, we're short on closing-time personnel, and I'm one of the few managers who's reliably around during the evening shift.
One of the tiny fringe benefits of this is that the store has developed something of a tradition as the clock ticks toward closing time. The last cashier, at 8:50, will pick up the intercom and announce to shoppers that they've only got 10 minutes left to shop; and at 9 p.m. will make a second announcement that the store is now closed.
The reason this is a fringe benefit is that it's a chance for some improvisational creativity. As long as it's not work-inappropriate, any message that gets the point across is tolerated (if not actively encouraged, depending on who happens to be working). And when it's my turn at the helm, I try to make the messages as memorable as possible.
Tonight, as closing time drew nigh, it was just me and a few other employees in the store. A freak snowstorm had blown in, blown through, and left a rare daytime layer of fresh powder on the ground. Most of our customers had chosen to stay home and stay warm rather than drive through dark, icy streets.
The restaurant and deli had already closed up, but Alicia and Tristan were still there, finishing up the paint job on the rear doors and hallway. I was manning the lone cash register.
It was time for the first announcement. I glanced out the window at the white bushes and sidewalks, and inspiration hit.
"Attention California Organics shoppers," I said. "It's now about 9:00, and I'd like to let you know that the snow zombies have finally broken into the store. We're fighting them off as best we can, but it's time to begin a calm and orderly evacuation. We've got just enough time to check you out if you stop by the counter on your way out. Thank you."
I heard some laughter and cheering from the back of the store. <Not bad,> I thought. <I haven't eaten for eight hours, my blood sugar is in the basement and I could lose a staring contest with a ferret -- but I can still crack a good joke or two.>
After confirming there weren't any customers in the store (or driving into the parking lot), I started going through the usual closing routine: lock door, water and cover produce, turn off freezer case lights. When there was nothing left to do but hit the switches that killed the store lights, I picked up the intercom again.
"Attention California Organics shoppers," I quipped. "Aaaah! The zombies have reached the power generator!" I hung up, lunged for the switches, and the store descended into twilight.
<... Not bad!> I thought, and smiled to myself.
As I pulled the drawer from the cash register and gathered my belongings so I could resettle in the office and count out my drawer, the other two employees clocked out and started walking out toward the rear door. "G'night!" Alicia called out. "Have fun fighting off those zombies."
"I'll be fine," I called back. "I'm pretty sure I brought my shotgun."
Then I started walking through the dark and desolate store.
The very dark store. With nobody in it. Except me.
And the zombies.
Something at the front of the store must have caught my attention. Because just as I was walking into the back hallway, I turned around.
There was a muffled impact against my left arm. I staggered sideways.
I caught my balance and whirled around. Nobody in sight. I glanced down at my jacket sleeve to see a spattered line of bright crimson.
AAAH! Zombie attack!
What had hit me? I looked around, and finally figured it out.
I'd walked into the swinging door.
The swinging door that was freshly painted.
The swinging door that was freshly painted blazing red.
I found some paint thinner and spent some time killing my jacket before the zombie bite could turn it into a slavering undead monstrosity. Then I had a good laugh, shook my head, and came upstairs to finish my job.
Being very careful to avoid the snow zombies in the shadows.