This is a true story. I totally lost my temper one day at a Woolworth restaurant counter, threw my drink at the cashier and threatened the security guard too. I was about fifteen years-old, so this was in 1975.
It was a hot Summer day, and I had only about 60-cents on me. In those days, that was enough money to buy a can of pop and a bag of chips at most stores. I was dying of thirst and the only thing around was a Woolworth. So I went in.
For those of you not old enough to remember, Woolworth was known as a “dime store”. Or, as some older people referred to it- a five-and-dime store. That was long before any dollar store existed. And, although they had a lot of cheap merchandise, some of which cost a dime, their restaurant was a rip-off.
In the back corner of most Woolworth stores was a little restaurant. It was just a counter and maybe three booths. The food was expensive, the servings were small, and it was just for shoppers who couldn’t wait until they got somewhere else to buy some real food.
I was a big 15-year-old football player, about 5-feet 10 inches, and weighed about 180 pounds. I was a pretty tough kid for my age, and no one to mess with on a hot day, after walking all day.
I walked up to the counter and saw the rip-off price of 55-cents, and ordered a Coke. In those days a can of pop was 25-cents. The guy that worked there first scooped up a cup-full of crushed ice. Immediately, before he poured the soda, I said loud and clear, “easy on the ice.” And I know he heard me.
Ignoring me, he started to fill the cup with about one ounce of Coke. I asked, “Didn’t you hear me say easy on the ice?”
He replied, “Yeah, but this is what I’m, supposed to do anyway.”
I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me man. I could buy two cans of pop for that price, and you can’t even give me one?”
He confirmed, “Yeah, that’s the way we have to do it, company rules.”
I sipped the ounce down in one gulp. It did nothing to quench my thirst. Put the cup down and demanded, “Fill it up again.”
He said, “That will be another 55-cents.”
I said, “I ordered a cup of Coke, not a cup of ice. Now I want the Coke.”
He walked away, which infuriated me. I threw the ice out of the cup in his general direction as hard as I could, which went all over the place. I walked around the counter and filled it full of Coke myself. He wisely stayed a safe distance away.
An old man with a security guard uniform came over and said, “Hey, get out from back there.”
I stepped around the counter, and nicely explained to the old guy why I did it. Well, the punk who ripped me off started yapping his side of the story to the old man like he was my dad or something, “He stole the pop. I already gave him one and he just took another one.”
I gritted my teeth and stepped in close, as if to punch him in his pimply face, but held back when he cowered.
The old man grabbed my arm, and I yanked it back away, threatening him with a clenched fist too. “Don’t put your F-ing hands on me, I’ll knock you out, and him too.” The old man wisely waited a few seconds while I slammed my warm soda down.
Ah, that hit the spot. I walked out like I owned the place. I got enough soda, but it still wasn’t my money’s worth.
About as soon as I walked out the door I felt bad for the old man. He was just doing his job. But if the kid was any kind of decent person he would have simply given me less ice. I guarantee you if I was working there and my boss told me I’d have to fill every cup full of ice, even if they asked for no ice, I wouldn’t do it. I’d laugh, and ask- seriously? And if he held a straight face and insisted. I’d say, “I can’t do that.” I wouldn’t care if he fired me. That’s just wrong.