On March 31, an unidentified man, his face covered by a red and yellow Rockets beanie with two eye holes cut in the back, walked into a Channelview, Texas, Popeye’s with gun in hand. He screamed at everyone to hit the ground, climbing effortlessly over the counter. Panicked employees and customers alike hit the ground in fear. One of these people was Marissa Holcomb, the pregnant shift manager working the fast food restaurant on this particular Tuesday.
According to Holcomb, “By the back of my shirt, he pulled me up and he pushed me to the front. He told me to give him everything out of my safe.” Holcomb was unable to open the franchise’s safe, so the gunman cleaned out the registers and departed as quickly as he came, making off with around $400 in cash. Here’s where the story takes a left turn.
Holcomb claims that when her employers found out about the theft, they told her that she could choose between either paying back the stolen funds or getting fired. “I told them I’m not paying nothing,” said Holcomb. “I just had a gun to me. I’m not paying the money.” That seems like a sentiment that would be echoed by most people on planet Earth, but Z&H Foods Inc., the Popeyes franchise owner, wasn’t interested in hearing excuses.
In addition to outright denying any offer to have Holcomb pay back the stolen funds, an HR rep for the company claimed that Holcomb was fired because she violated company policy (and not for the first time) by leaving too much money in the register. The exact amount employees are allowed to keep wasn’t disclosed.
Holcomb responded to these accusations by stating that she’d cleared the registers only an hour before the robbery, but that the evening was extremely busy. As any fan of not-quite-chicken can tell you, Popeye’s is always your best bet for fast food fowl, but on Tuesdays things get particularly hectic. That’s because the chain runs a special where people who don’t care about their heart health can get two pieces of near chicken for only a $1.50. (Be careful, though, the stuff is positively sinful.)
In other words, for a brief time each Tuesday, Popeye’s chicken becomes one part goldmine and two parts madhouse. Holcomb’s defense was that she was too busy seeing to customers’ needs to transfer the money out of the drawers. Have you ever been standing in line at a fast food joint when they’ve tried to replace the registers? Remember how irritated the people in line got? Now just imagine pulling that stunt while the place is stuffed to the gills with a mob of people fiending for cheap chicken.
Even more to the point, something doesn’t add up in this story. The guy with the gun came in and tried to clean the place out, but Holcomb wasn’t able to give him access to the safe. He was only able to clean out the registers (which is why he got away with $400 instead of several thousand). It hasn’t been fully explained as to why Holcomb was unable to access the safe, but the man with the gun had to have been somewhat satisfied with the reason.
Now, if Holcomb is unable to open the safe, that would indicate that she only has access to the tills. So, where is she expected to move the excess money? Does Popeye’s have a mattress in the back? It would stand to reason that, most likely, she’d be expected to move that money to a safe. A safe she convinced the robber she couldn’t open, even though she must have had access if she’s the manager and the manager is expected to move extra money out of the registers. So, was the thief in a hurry, or did Holcomb (accidentally or not) manage to save her employers a whole lot of cash?
In dealing with the rush, Holcomb says she didn’t have time to clean out the registers more than once an hour. The good folks at Z&H Foods Inc., however, disagreed with Holcomb and dismissed her. To date, she still hasn’t gotten gainful employment.