Promptly at 11:00 AM, Slick Mitchell opened the door of the training room and the Tool Towners filed out. The video had been asinine, for the most part, depicting a dozen retail associates calmly handling the call of a madman.
Slick couldn't imagine his crew handling any threat to the Tommy store with such efficiency or calm. Not that his folks were idiots, because they certainly were not. His folks had wild imaginations. Kitty Richardson would be busy penning a Pulitzer-prize-winning-quality article before the call ended. Bernice Lord would be posting it on Facebook, and Penelope Ross would be taking videos of Tool Towners falling over each other.
Mags Davidson would probably be killed in the pandemonium.
Slick Mitchell could only pray that such a thing never happened.
He'd instructed each manager to go over the protocol with the associates in their departments. He figured most of them would do all right, explaining the odd procedures to their staff.
What worried him was the three knuckleheads on the front end. The front end was, in reality, the first line of defense in any retail warfare. Customers were greeted by employees on the front end, upon entering. Customers completed their Tommy experience on the front end.
Like Stockwell, Slick Mitchell adored the three ladies who comandeered the front-end staff, but he worried about their mental state, from time to time. Mags was the most lovable walking disaster he'd ever met. Barbie was adorable, more so because she carried herself in a way that suggested she really didn't know. And, Kitty. Kitty was a story all in herself, a story that was too farcical to believe, unless it was Kitty's.
Slick Mitchell got the occasional complaint about the front end, but nothing that was unique to Tommy's alone. Retail customers were hard to please, and sometimes had ridiculous expectations. Slick imagined cashing out on Tommy's front end was rather like going to the circus and leaving with a complimentary screw driver. So far, so good. At least they were smiling when they left, and how could they not, when every customer who set off Tommy's elaborate magnetic inventory security system, was met by Mags yelling "freeze."
One day, some old lady is gonna have a heart attack, Slick considered. He also considered that Mags probably knew CPR, although she wouldn't ever have the opportunity to use it on herself. In a room full of random people, Mags would be most likely to need CPR.
Slick worried about how the bomb threat explanation was going on the front end, but he had to have faith in his people. He knew the material, but he had to wonder how the dynamic trio would deliver it to their subordinates.
On the front end, the troops had been gathered. Val Jones and JJ Patricks had been left to control the customers, and all other cashiers had been herded into Reeve Stockwell's office. Barbie Baxter offered to supervise at the front door, leaving Mags and Kitty to go over bomb threat procedures.
Stockwell unlocked his office door, and let everyone inside. Slick Mitchell was on the hunt for Miles Longworth, who had not returned to the meeting, leaving Stockwell to manage the floor of Tommy's. He had to leave Kitty and Mags unsupervised to deliver the procedures to their staff, which could ultimately cause more harm than an actual bomb.
"Don't mess this up or I'll kill you," Stockwell said, low enough that only Mags and Kitty could hear his threat.
"How could we mess it up?" Kitty said. "We'll just follow protocol."
"And you've done that when?" Stockwell asked.
"Trust us," Mags said, and Stockwell forced himself to look into her eyes, and not at the giant goose egg on the side of her head.
"If there's ever been a time when I'd like to, this would be it," Stockwell said. "Just don't let me down."
"No problem, boss," Mags said, closing the door in Stockwell's face, but gently.
"Can I go home?" Bernice asked, and Mags rolled her eyes.
"Yes," Kitty said.
"I can?" Bernice asked, incredulously.
"At 4:00," Kitty advised.
"That's when my shift ends," Bernice whined.
"And that's why you may leave at that time," Kitty replied.
"You're mean," Bernice complained.
"I am not," Kitty said. "Gather round, gang, and let's talk about the exciting topic of what to do in case of a bomb threat."
"I like turtles," Bernice said, being obviously obstinate.
"Bernice, if you do not stop talking, I will tape your mouth shut," Mags said, although she was smiling.
"That's against policy," Penelope Ross said, defending her best friend.
"There is nothing in the policy against taping someone's mouth shut," Kitty advised.
"Well, there certainly should be," Lucie Goosman said. Lucie Goosman, better known as Lucie Goosie, was a member of Tommy's younger generation, and was always quick to defend her co-workers. Lucie loved everyone, and looked for the best in each person she met. She probably thought it was wonderful that Bernice liked turtles. She'd have never considered that quoting the viral You Tube phrase was Bernice's idea of being disruptive.
"I like......," Bernice said, smiling her dazzling smile.
"Don't even think about it," Mags said. "Come on, guys, can we be serious for like five minutes?"
"Who, us?" Penelope asked.
"Yes. Surprise us. Pretend you're paying attention," Kitty pleaded.
"You know, policies and procedures date back to biblical times," Wilton Scott piped in. Wilton enjoyed quoting philosophers, sci-fi movies, literary masterpieces, and had a factoid for every situation.
"Wilton, while we appreciate your endless factoids, now may not be the time," Kitty said with a smile.
"Duly noted," Wilton said respectfully.
"Can we talk about bombs?" Kitty asked.
"The thing about bombs," Wilton began, before Kitty cut him off. "My apologies, Miss Kitty," Wilton said.
"In the event of a bomb threat, refer to the Cashier's Manual," Kitty read from a printed sheet in her hand.
"It says that?" Mags asked.
"It says 'refer to your department manual for specific instruction,'" Kitty read.
"Wow," Mags said, looking confused.
"We're supposed to go get the manual?" Amber Martin asked.
"It would seem," Mags said, furrowing her brow.
"Do we put the caller on hold?" Amber asked, and although she sounded serious, Bernice and Penelope began laughing hysterically.
"Thank you for calling about the bomb, please enjoy some music while we get the Cashier's Manual," Lucie Goosie practically sang, and Kitty and Mags joined in the hysterical laughter.
"This does not seem to be working," Kitty whispered, breathless from laughing.
"All right, gang, new policy. If we ever have a bomb threat, we'll have Stockwell handle it," Mags said.
Reeve Stockwell was assisting a customer in aisle three, and had explained everything known to man about different kinds of rope. He could hear faint laughter coming from his office, and he wondered if he should buy some rope for himself.