A few years ago – quite a lot of years ago in fact – I carried out a spate of petrol station robberies.
Picture the scene: It’s night-time, lashing with rain, and a twenty-something lad sits in his car on a petrol station forecourt. He whispers to himself as he intently watches the customers come and go. “One out. Two in. One in. One out. Two out”. He sucks on a Marlboro to help him concentrate as he counts. He has intensely blue eyes, which flicker left and right as he closely observes the scene through the drenched windscreen, his focus interrupted every few seconds by the wipers as they squeal back and forth. He has short scruffy stubble, and the jawline of an Adonis. His phone rings and he flips it open with one hand, cooly bringing it to his ear.
“Candice. Yep I know you do. Not tonight doll I’m busy. I dunno maybe next week. I know. Gotta go. I know you do babe. Gotta go.”
He tosses the phone onto the leather passenger seat, and just as it lands it rings again. He snatches it back to his ear.
“Hi Holly. What? Don’t be like that babe. Whatever, maybe I’ll call you later.”
He switches the phone to silent and slips it into his jacket pocket.
This is it. There’s no one in the petrol station except for the huge bearded dude behind the counter. He’s a big lad, but our guy isn’t worried. He pulls a black balaclava over his head and grabs his Glock 19 from the glove compartment, leaning forwards and stuffing it down the rear of his trousers.
Exiting his cherry red 64 Camaro and stepping into the rain he throws his cigarette butt to the ground, causing it to pop and fizz as it expires in a shallow puddle of oily water. He takes one last look around and darts for the petrol station door.
BLAM! The door is booted open and the beardy guy behind the counter instantly spots the danger, instinctively reaching his open hands forward as if to say ‘woah there boy’. “I want no trouble!” he yells.
Our guy strides quickly and confidently up to the counter, grabbing a box of mint Tic-Tacs on the way. He stops dead at the counter and lobs the mints in the air, just above the beard’s head. The beard goes to catch them without thinking…
The butt of the Glock connects with the beard’s nose in a swift single move, dropping him into a pile on the floor behind the counter. Blood is squirting out all over the pastel green lino floortiles.
“Grab a plastic bag and fill it up with FUCKING MONEY!” growls our guy. He’s not fucking about.
“Okay! Okay!” says the beard, slipping and sliding in his own blood as he pulls himself to his feet. One hand is holding his nose, the other is prodding at the buttons on the till.
“FASTER!” yells our guy, leaning in. He stares the beard directly in the eye.
“H… h… here you go. It’s all there.”
Our guy snatches the bag and peeks inside. It’s a good haul. He grabs two boxes of condoms from the counter top. Durex. Ribbed.
“I’m taking these too,” he says, and then winks. “Sorry about the nose.”
Within 30 seconds the whole ordeal is over, and our guy has vanished into the storm. Within 1 minute the beard is dialing 999. Within 5 minutes the place is swarming with blue flashing lights.
“We’re just lucky it was a male attendant this time,” says PC Mayall, flicking through his notepad.
“Why’s that?” asks the beard, holding a handkerchief to his bloody nose.
“Two other petrol stations have already been hit this week. Red Camaro, black balaclava. We’re pretty sure it’s the same guy. The problem is that the last two places were staffed by females when he struck…”
“They fell madly in love with him. It’s the jawline, and the confident stride. He’s just such a goddamn handsome guy. They refused to make any official statements against him, so we had to rely on CCTV. So anyway…”, the cop takes out his pen. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
“Nothing officer. I fell.”
Okay, so that’s not exactly how it went. My robberies weren’t quite as Tarantino. What happened was this:
I’d been working as a barman for about 4 years and was fucking sick of the shit hours and the manual work (in hindsight I think this is also the place that kicked off my heavy drinking – it was a private members golf club and one of the expectations was that you sit and drink with the members). My girlfriend at the time dumped me, and I decided to go out and get twatted on booze with a few mates – ignoring the early start I had the next morning for beer and wine deliveries.
Morning rolled around and I felt shocking. The mixture of the hangover, the dumping, and the shitty job just got too much for me. I popped through to the kitchen where my housemate Richie was working as a chef, and we both decided on the spot to fuck the whole thing off. I ditched my bunch of keys on the bar and we hit the road in his little Fiat Cinquecento. I picked up a huge bottle of Jack and I think we found ourselves in Blackpool when we first realised we wouldn’t have the petrol left to get us home.
We selected a busy looking petrol station – more distraction from our naughty actions – and I drunkenly filled the tank up whilst Richie kept the engine running, and then we zoomed off like a couple of badasses. It was easy. Free petrol! We spent another few days on the road; Richie in the driving seat, me clutching a bottle, and after a further slew of naughty fuel thievery we rolled back into Huddersfield. Richie disappeared with the army or the circus or something (I dunno, I was drunk), and I was left to sober up and face my new reality: No job, no girlfriend, no money, no booze left apart from a bit of flat Lambrini.
After a few days of sweating and worrying I emerged from my cocoon of self-loathe with an answer. The only logical answer. Stop drinking and find a job, you fucking bum! And can you believe it? When you stop drinking EVERYTHING becomes easier. Off the pop I managed to take my mess of a life and turn it around without much effort. Within a month I was earning more money than I’d ever earned as a full time barman, plus I had prospects. I was finally tracked down and arrested for my naughtiness, but this spurred me on to repay the money I owed to at least one of the petrol stations, and the cops took a view that I was just a stupid kid and dropped the charges. Stop drinking = the world becomes a place I’m suddenly content to live in. My previous wrong-doings have been righted by quitting the drink.
SOBRIETY-INDUCED KARMIC FUCKERY.
There are, however, 2 points worth calling out here:
- I hadn’t quite learned my lesson yet, and the new job led to expendable income, which led back to boozing. Not just casual boozing though – PROPER WEEKEND BINGES. These continued pretty much up until I finally quit for good 2 years ago.
- The only CD we had in the car for the whole of our drunken outlaw roadtrip was a Daniel fucking Bedingfield album. I still can’t listen to ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ without wanting to fill my pockets with filthy stolen Shell V-Power Unleaded, and waggle my penis at coppers.
The thing that recently got me thinking about ‘Sobriety-Induced Karmic Fuckery’ (I’ve decided it’s now a thing) was actually a trip back up north a couple of weeks ago to take my awesome nephew and his mate Spongebob to The Lowry Theater in Salford.
My wife has seen ‘Slava’s Snow Show’ 10 times now. She fucking loves it, and she took me to see it a couple of years ago in London and now I fucking love it. Basically, you can’t see it and not fucking love it. A soon as the London show finished I was like “I have to take nephew #1 to see this! he’ll fucking love it!” (nephew #2 is possibly still a bit young but we’ll probably take him soon, and he’ll fucking love it guaranteed).
It didn’t tour last year, but I kept watching the listings and as soon as the 2017 tour was announced I pounced on it. I was like a coiled spring, ready to throw my wedge at the best seats in the house. I looked at the seating diagram and chose 4 seats just 4 rows from the front. Right in the middle of the row. The perfect position to enjoy an epic show.
That was back in November last year, I was a full year early getting those tickets, and finally I pulled them out of hiding a few weeks ago ready for the show. I instantly noticed a glaring fucking error with the seat numbers. Row T! I’d accidentally booked seats 4 rows from the back, not the front. What a fucking dolt (you’ll understand why this sucks if you’ve seen the show).
“Ah well” I told myself. “They’ll still love it, I’m sure it’ll be fine…”
Since stopping drinking I’ve become a bit of a dick when it comes to doing things properly. I get obsessed with details that didn’t used to matter to me – like making sure we get the best table in a restaurant, or watching everything in HD rather than SD. I’m quite the git. So even though the ticket thing would be okay, it bothered me that I’d put the effort in for what wouldn’t be the FULL experience.
We met up with my northern fam and went for a pizza, then me, the wife, nephew #1, and Spongebob went off to our show, arriving early to take our seats.
As soon as we walked in to the Lowry’s auditorium we were accosted by a member of staff, a lovely old lady who informed us that they had re-seated us due to it being an interactive type of show. She showed us to our new seats, right up by where I’d originally intended to book them. It was like a bolt of righteousness right out of a heavenly bumhole. Punched in the face by lovely karmic fuckery. What a weird and unexpected surprise.
So anyway, the show totally rocked. Nephew #1 and Spongebob had a whale of a time and before I knew it we were saying goodbye, and the wife and I were back in the car speeding down the M6 to Milton Keynes.
“By ‘eck!” I said to the wife. “That was some karmic fuckery type shit right there!”
“It definitely all worked out,” she said.
“Yep!” I replied. “I never had that sort of luck when I was drinking.”
“You should do a blog post about it!”
“Great idea!” I said. “But first we need some petrol.”
And I pulled into the M6 services as Daniel Bedingfield came on the radio. Daniel fucking Bedingfield.