Minyard Math

How hard is it to dial 9, then 1, then 1?

Oh, we can't have a scene, can we? We can have an armed robbery, but no scenes.

She leaves the store, rather than cause a scene, and is able to flag down cops nearby. The Dallas police, she told me, were really great--took her back to the store to do the report, seriously worked it, tried to get units out looking for the SUV. She said the officer who took the report told her the robbers sounded like amateurs and might have been caught if she had been able to call 911 immediately from the store. As it was, the robbers were gone 15 to 20 minutes by the time the offense made it to police dispatch.

The neighborhood has been angry about this store for a year or more because of a general decline in service. Dallas City Councilman Gary Griffith told me months ago he was putting pressure on Minyard to do something about it.

You probably remember that the 69 Minyard grocery stores in North Texas were sold by Dallas' Minyard family in October 2004 to a company with the catchy name of Acquisition Vehicle Texas II. Let's call them Acky-V.

One of the complaints of neighbors and shoppers was that at some point after taking over, Acky-V had cut out the off-duty police patrols in front of the store at night. An Acky-V spokesman told me the patrols were cut because there was no crime reported at the store.

Impressive. And it's supported by what I learned from the Dallas Police Department. There have been no 911 calls from the store in the last 12 months. Not one. Amazing. The anchor commercial establishment at a major urban intersection, and not a single 911 call in a year.

So why do you need off-duty cops? No 911 calls, no cops. It all works out. Acky-V saves a few bucks on the deal. Who can argue? I'm just trying to figure out how they didn't have a single 911 call from there in a year. Hmm. Nope. Can't figure it out.

I was assured by Executive Vice President Pat Liska that their policy is for all employees to make 911 calls for customers whenever asked. "When somebody comes into the store and they need us to dial 911, we just do it," Liska said. He blamed the events in Sutlief's case on a youthful employee who handled things the wrong way. "That was an individual decision," he said. Liska said the employee has been given instruction in how to better handle 911 calls in the future.

It's just that nobody ever wanted any employee to call 911 from this store before that night. And all of the shoulder-shrugging and dialing malfunctions Sutlief experienced were coincidences.

What can you say?

I know what the e-mail said. First, the one I got from my wife said, "Minyard Robbery, did you receive?" I clicked on it. That led me to a message from Janel, who was my wife's roommate at SMU. She said, "For all you guys who live in Lakewood." So I clicked on that and went to a message that said, "Interesting. Be careful." I think that was from Sheral, my dentist's wife.

I clicked on that and went to a message that said, "Take Note," from Robin, a food and nutrition consultant. In that message I read a description of what happened, which made me furious. About an hour later I figured out the victim had been my co-worker.

In a space of one morning, I honestly believe this e-mail was read by tens of thousands of people in East Dallas. It went everywhere! From one list to another.

So fine. We're all wrong. Minyard always dials 911 whenever anyone asks, quickly quickly quickly, so that the police can catch the bad guys. Sutlief just ran into an accidental unintentional coincidental incremental series of dialing errors.

Ah, but the moon soars above the forests of the Internet tonight, and the bat flies. I believe if one were to peer from the front door of the Minyard store, one would see distant lights massing on the cobbled roads of electronic Transylvania. Are those shouts and murmurs?

If I were Acky-V, I'd have me a case of the shakes.

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