The Commerce Journal

July 18, 2013

Finding an old note brings back memorable day

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — I was going through some of my notebooks and papers the other day while cleaning out some of my old stuff when something peculiar fell out of one of my notebooks.

Three strands of old Walmart receipt tape floated from my notebook to the ground.

I admit, Walmart, while I was a cashier I would hit the button on the receipt machine and write on it when it was slow. What can I say, I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

I began reading the barely legible writing when I quickly realized the subject matter.

I forget the day that it happened—it was two years ago—but I remember it was a Sunday. And I remember the event specifically.

It was the day of the shooting at Commerce Walmart.

Here is my note:

“I was in the middle of sacking a young couple and their child’s groceries when the shouting began.

“The entire crowd of men, women and children gasped as they saw an armed man back into the front of Walmart with an assault rifle and pistol in each hand.

“In silent shock we all stood until a lone cry from a customer rang through the store.

“’He’s got a gun!’ she had cried.

“At once the silent ambiance stirred into what could best be described as a scene from a disaster movie, when the flood or earthquake comes crashing down.

“I ducked and ran, punching my supervisor in the shoulder to get him out of the daze he was in.

“He came to and quickly followed suit.

“I had made it to the magazine section when the sound of the assault rifle penetrated the screams.

“‘Pop pop pop! Pop pop pop!’

“’Please God let me live,’ I prayed relentlessly as I ran.

“An older Mexican woman was in the hardware section with her two kids. She did not speak English well, so I motioned frantically that there was danger.

“Grabbing her two children by their wrists with a mother’s strength, she turned  and ran where I had pointed to.

Bill in assembly was standing out the door that leads to the back of the store, motioning like a base coach for us to round for home as fast as we could run.

“We were all out of breath by the time we made it to the back lot of the store.

“Some were crying, others were like me, shaking still from the shock of it all.

“They allowed us all to leave after they questioned us and made sure we were fine.

“A slow drizzle began to wash away the blood stain on the shooter’s car as I walked past it on the way to my car.

“’A fitting end,’ I thought out loud.

“I got in my car, sat for a moment, started my engine and drove away.”

I don’t think that I will ever forget that day; the crowd screaming, the look in the shooter’s eyes, and the loud ringing of the assault rifle will be etched in my mind for a long time.