By SHERRY DANG
CONTRIBUTED TO THE PAJARONIAN
We have several 7-Eleven stores in the area. Since the pandemic, we have worked the graveyard shift. This turned out to be the best experience in the last few decades.
We have seen the best, the worst and everything in between. The labor shortage, the homeless problem, the unpredictable and uncertainty of the pandemic, and the endless supply shortage creates a very unprecedented challenge for all businesses, our stores among those.
We often felt hopeless, worried, stressed and most of all, quite lonely. Working at night makes the anxiety even higher.
On Nov. 6 at around 2:30am at our 7-Eleven store on Main Street in Watsonville, there was an incident that triggered this writing today.
A man, who had been at the store several times before, stood outside the front window and flipped his middle finger at me, calling me names. When I picked up the phone, he would leave and come back later. Not only did he harass me, he also made other customers feel uneasy. On the night of Nov. 6, he came with another person who offered to buy him a cup of coffee.
When he got to the counter and heard the price, he started swearing about the price and quality of the coffee. Then he dropped the coffee on the counter, laughing on the way out after touching a tray of donuts with his hand. I picked up the phone to call the police. The man slid a baseball bat through our front door holder to lock us in. He stood outside, kicking the door with his foot and his skateboard. When we pushed the door open halfway, he waved his board and bat to my face, touching my left shoulder and my husband Kirk’s left arm. Then he started to run away, knowing that I called the police.
He was about 100 feet from our store when the first police car approached the parking lot and stopped him, when another four officers followed. My adrenaline dropped and I started crying. The officers saw me crying, and two of them helped calm me down.
A week later, another incident happened; a shoplifter took a basket and ran away. Once again, an officer stopped them and brought the basket back.
We have been around in this business for a long time. It’s not easy to impress us, but the actions of these young officers really fill us with great appreciation. We are living in a time where we have read and heard daily of police brutality across the country. Many cities have cut police funding, looking for alternative ways to keep society safe. The thought of not having police scares the life out of us. Politicians need to get experience at a small business to understand the importance of having protection to save lives.
The Watsonville Police officers are the finest; the best that small towns are lucky to have, which the big cities should learn from. These officers are professional; carry themselves with pride and dignity. They act with authority and respond with compassion. They carry guns and embrace with heart. They make us feel safe and protected and loved. That is not easy since policing is their job, it’s a fine line between being tough and nice, but somehow these officers gave us that.
Once again, we are at the age that not much can surprise us, but they did, so much that we decided to get the word out.
We put together the list some of our Watsonville Finest that we have been in contact with:
• Corporal Naim Figueroa
• Corporal Collin Travers
• Officer Michaela Barnett
• Officer Jean Castillo
• Officer Andres Gutierrez
• Officer Matthew Morales
• Officer Marcos Rios
Also, a big thank-you to Sgt. Mike Ridgway for your continuing support to our staff.
We had a meeting with Chief Jorge Zamora and Captain Tony Figueroa. At the end, we realized the organization’s great culture is from the top down. Chief Zamora and Captain Figueroa are just as wonderful as the officers. They love to hear the stories, they love to hear how their troops are doing as well. We can tell the pride, the humanity and the appreciation in their voice, body language and action. Their young officers are the mirror of the top dogs.
Watsonville is a wonderful city with hard-working folks raising their family; we are safer with a very fine police department. Graveyard shift at the local 7-Eleven store is now fun and awesome.
Sherry Dang owns local 7-Eleven stores with her husband, Kirk di Cicco.