“Operation Not So Convenient” is a real thing that happened

Note: This column appears in the 7/21 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/22 issue of the Peoria Times

Uh, a police report, I guess.

The convenience store is a proud testament to a person’s geographic location. And by “proud,” I mean shameful and dirty. Nevertheless.

Back in New Jersey we had many convenience stores. Seven-11, Quick-Check, and even Wawa, which is Philadelphia-based but spreading, thanks to the popularity it has garnered by not being as disgusting as other convenience stores. When I lived in Baltimore we had Royal Farms, which, like an actual farm, was a good place to buy a 72-oz soda, or get shot.

Upon moving to Arizona, I quickly discovered that Circle K was the place to be for convenience, especially since there is one at every major intersection. What separates Circle K from even my own accustomed standards is that it sells the two major things that require the utmost convenience—gas and alcohol.

As a matter of fact, I have had several interesting experiences while trying to purchase both at Circle K. Several years ago, while on the way back from the airport after a trip back east, we stopped at Circle K so I could pick up a few beers for that football Sunday. My timing was incidental, but it was nearing 10 a.m., and when I walked in, a line of patrons was waiting inside the store to purchase alcohol. Frustrated that it was already 10:01 and the alcohol had not yet been released for purchase, this friendly mob of consumers began banging on the plastic barriers, demanding the doors to the “beer room” be opened. Things got pretty ugly, and I wondered, “Where am I? I don’t need beer that badly.” But then I started banging on the door, too, because, ya’ know … football.

On a separate occasion at a separate Circle K, I attempted to purchase gasoline for my motor vehicle, and although I accomplished this task, the gas pump was broken and gas went all over my car and clothes and—worse of all—the pristinely manicured Circle K parking lot/gas-getting area. When I informed the employee of this Circle K what had happened, she rolled her eyes and informed me she had other customers to “deal with,” that customer being, specifically, a man buying a hot dog at 6:30 a.m.

Also, the first time my father-in-law purchased gas at the Circle K closest to our house, an employee there acquired his credit card information and made several purchases. Convenience!

Anyway, my point is that Circle K is awesome. The police, however, disagree.

A recent ASU study revealed that Circle K is, by far, the most crime-ridden convenience store in the Valley. In 2010 alone, Glendale police were called to three specific Circle Ks 1,382 times. This past March, a Peoria man was stabbed trying to stop a beer theft at Circle K.

This report is surprising only to people who have never been inside a convenience store, which can always manage to somehow draw the crazy out of even the most sane surrounding locale. Circle K, however, has indeed outdone itself. According to the study, and police—“Operation Not So Convenient” was a recent police surveillance operation of the stores; I am not kidding—the company has been less-than cooperative in attempting to find a solution to this problem. Based on my own experiences, I find that impossible to believe.

Regardless, if you’re in a pinch for gas, or beer, or lottery tickets, or peanuts, or a hat, or band-aids, or the latest issue of Guitar Magazine, feel free to stop at Circle K. Just be careful. Convenience has its price. The price is, for some, zero dollars. Don’t try and stop them. Just call the police. It won't be the first time.