The Bruthas

1992.

I am the assistant manager for a video rental store. It’s a franchise, a competitor to a larger video rental franchise that shall remain nameless. This was before online video rental. Back then, people actually got in their cars, drove to a store, and physically picked out the movies they wanted. Then they would drive back home, watch them, and return them the next day. I know I know, it was a crazy concept, but trust me it is all true.

So it’s Saturday night, and the place is packed. There were three employees besides myself, and we were all at our respective terminals, checking out customers. Each one of our lines was at least 6 or 7 customers deep, and we were working as quickly as possible to help our customers.

“Ring! Ring!”

The telephone rings, and one of my employees picks it up. It is her husband. They have been having problems, and I can hear that they are arguing. From discussions I have heard before, he apparently likes to drink, and when he does, likes to fight. This goes on for about a minute or so, and then she hangs up. I am relived since we cannot afford this tonight. We are too busy. She is visibly upset but continues working.

“Ring! Ring!”

Great. She picks up the phone and begins arguing again. This is not going well. I give her a look and she hangs up again. This is now becoming a problem, and customers from her line are moving to others as they realize that her line is moving slower.

“Ring! Ring!”

I reach for the phone, but she beats me to it. She pleads with her husband to stop calling, but he apparently continues the conversation. She put the phone on hold, and walks into the office in the back to continue the conversation. Customers are now upset and complaining. I assure them we will get to them as soon as possible. I am fuming inside now, but I try to work faster, and start handing out free rentals to the most angry customers, without tipping off the rest of the customers so that we don’t start a fury of free rental requests. After a few minutes, I go back and tell her she needs to get off the phone, or go home for the night. She hangs up again, and I can see she has been crying.

“Ring! Ring!”

I reach it first this time. It is him again of course.

“She is busy and can’t talk right now!”

I hang up. My employee looks at me, fear on her face. I don’t really care. I was fed up with the constant phone calls.

“Ring! Ring!”

This time she gets the phone and once more, puts it on hold to continue the argument in the back office. She comes back, and tells me “Now you did it! He is coming here to kick your @#$!” Apparently, he was in another county, but was so enraged by my hanging up on him that he decided to drive drunk all the way down to the store to beat me up. The most alarming thing was, my employee seemed almost happy about it, like she was proud of her drunken husband for standing up to me.

I am no hero. I suddenly started having visions of disaster, a drunk maniac coming in with a bunch of his friends to exact their revenge. And here I am with three young women. Those were not good odds.

“Ring! Ring!”

This time it is me calling my older brother. I tell him what happened. He tells me to hang up, call the police, and tells me he will be right there. He asked me if I had anything to defend myself. I kept a Louisville slugger under the counter just in case, and I told him so. He told me to keep it handy.

In about 5 minutes, my older brother, and one of my younger brothers were in the store. Both of them were carrying their own form of defense. The color suddenly left my female employee’s face as she saw that this was getting out of hand.

“You didn’t have to call your brothers!”

Was she really serious? Did she really think no actions would be taken, that I would just wait to be pummeled by her drunk husband?

You may think that the end of this story involves us fighting our way out of the store, warriors dodging bullets and sniper fire to save our fellow employees and the store from the assault of my employee’s husband and friends. No not really. When he got there, he was alone, and his wife told him what awaited him inside. In an apparent moment of clarity, he decided this was not a fight he wanted. They both left, she quit the next day out of embarrassment, and all ended well. Mind you, none of us were really that brave, and I have no idea what we would have done should he have gotten violent. But one thing I do know is that my brothers would not have allowed him to lay a hand on me.

Imagine my apprehension when she and her husband came in a couple of weeks later to rent a video. Of course, I tensed up as he came towards me. Was this the day of revenge for my drunken opponent? Was this the end of my walk on this earth as he pulls a weapon on me and finishes the job? Nope. He extended his hand, shook it, and apologized. He told me he was wrong.

This was not the first nor the last time my brothers came to the rescue. I have been truly blessed in this life with brothers who would do anything for me, and I for them. There have been countless times we have been there for each. No don’t go there. We are not mobsters – far from it. I am not talking about anything illegal. In most cases, it was simply an ear to listen, a hug at the right time, advice when we need it the most.

Sometimes I look at photos we have taken of us together and I think back at all we have been through together. No matter what has been asked of us, we have never asked for anything in return. Our love for each other has truly been unconditional. No it has not always been pretty. We have each been stubborn at times, and there have been arguments. Most of them have been foolish on our part. But even when we were angry at each other, we always knew it would never stop us from stepping up to the plate for each other. It is a truly great feeling to know that in this world, there are a few guys just a phone call away, willing to stand toe to toe with you through any situation.

When I need it most, I will always be able to count on….

The bruthas!

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