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inSecurity FreshCo

This is a true story about security guards — one who planted items in my belongings in an apparent attempt to have me arrested, and another who shat on the floor of the bathroom in an attempt to…well, I’m not entirely certain what he was trying to accomplish. He sure did like dumping out onto the floor whenever he saw me coming, though.

This is the bathroom at the Sherbourne/Wellesley FreshCo. This location has saved my ass a number of times over the past 10 months or so. Not to say there haven’t been some real problems.

Tonight I had some trouble there, and not for the first time. Not as bad (depending on your point of view) as my experiences there in the early days of the pandemic (plop-plop-plop-plop!), but pretty shitty nonetheless.

I’ve been using the faucet in this bathroom to get fresh water all during the pandemic. Given I eat mainly soup and rice, water is integral to my daily routine. I typically use 4 or 5 litres per day for cooking, etc. Water is heavy, so I don’t like to travel far carrying all that. (Fun fact: 1L of water weighs 1 kg.)

Tonight, I went to access the faucet and was told by a security guard that I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom, that it was out of order. This particular security guard has, while in plainclothes, tried unsuccessfully to provoke me while at this location over the past few weeks. There are some common tactics security guards use when targeting the homeless — banging on the door immediately after engaging the lock, approaching you after having left the bathroom, closely following, exaggerated peering, casually questioning as if a shopper, that sort of thing. Pretty standard stuff. (In case you’re wondering, the substantial cost to retailers as a result of theft is from employees and organized shoplifting rings, not the homeless.)

Tonight he was in uniform. I had done my shopping by the time I went to use the bathroom, so I already had my bread, my soup, and some fruit. When he stopped me at the bathroom door, I left my bags there and walked over to the head cashier to ask her to talk to this guy. I shop there every day, after all. She refused, and spent time explaining to me that there was some definitely valid reason for not allowing me to use the sink. Definitely a valid reason, definitely. After asking her to tell me more about her thinking on this, she got sniffy. Not all that strange, as this woman in particular has a dislike of me that she has never been shy about displaying, but that’s a story for another time. So I return to the bathroom area and pick up my bags, where the security guard is standing by them, and I line up again for a refund. I’ve got to buy some water and I’m not about to buy it here. I’ll go to the No Frills. I’m not about to carry the stuff I bought here all the way to another grocery store, so I’m getting a refund. I return all of the items I bought, except the loaf of bread, which I handled. When I get to the No Frills, I find that there are two cans soup in my bag… The only time I left my bags unattended was when I was chatting to the head cashier. The only time I’ve recently bought that type of soup was tonight, and I returned the two cans that I’d bought. So how did these two cans of soup get into my bag?

The security company this particular guy works for tried to provoke me to violence earlier this week. That’s not unusual for a certain kind of security guard, you know the type. I thought we’d made up, but when you read the following, perhaps you’ll be as puzzled as I am at how bizarre security guards can be.

Early in the pandemic FreshCo. at Sherbourne/Wellesley, like all other grocery stores, posted a security guard at the entrance to control the flow of traffic. This neighbourhood being near the most violent and crime-ridden in the city, they already had a security presence. The pandemic brought a number of new guys. One of them, a stocky, middle-aged man, was the regular guard in the daytime. We’d chat a few minutes, typically, just saying hello and that kind of thing. As a homeless person I try to defuse the tension security guards can experience, especially if they don’t have a lot of experience downtown. It just makes for an easier time for everyone.

So I get into the routine of going to this location and doing my daily shop around the same time every day. It’s usually the same guy, and there’s never a problem. Then, gradually, strange things start happening. I’m going into the toilet and it’s all clogged up. Not a big deal, it happens. Then it happens again. And again. And then there’s filthy water on the floor. Now, I’ve been homeless a long time, so I am very familiar with what an industrial grade toilet can handle. I’m also familiar with how corporate security people like to go about setting up a scenario to crate a pretext. I won’t go into that right now, instead I’ll stick to the tangibles…like the piles of shit on the floor.

The security guard, week after week, he’s been standing outside the store, having people line up, all that pandemic-time stuff. My walk to the grocery store includes a straight-away, where he can see me coming, and I can see him. I find it a little odd when, suddenly, when he sees me coming, he goes into the store. I don’t see hm again until I approach the bathroom and he’s exiting it. Hi! Hey there! I go into the toilet and there’s a pile of shit in front of the bowl — on the floor. Now, you might think that maybe he went in there, but he didn’t make that mess. Fair point, one time. Or twice. Or three times. Or four times. Or any time it happened while he wasn’t there. But no. There was a pile of shit on the floor, repeatedly, when he was working, shortly before I arrived to use the bathroom, and quite often when he was seen to be the last person to have used the bathroom. Never, not even once, was there anything like that when he wasn’t working. Why would someone do this? Apart from wanting to be a dick? I think I have an answer, but I won’t bother writing it down here. Suffice it to say that it didn’t stop me using the faucet. Says a lot about the difference between the security company and the security guards, though. I mean, they would’ve known he was doing that. And someone had to clean it up, didn’t they?

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