Do not stand between septuagenarians and free cheese.
All was calm in the aisles of a Greenville, S.C., Costco on July 26 when a 70-year-old man lined up for a cheese sample. Then he saw another man cut in line, take a cheese sample and walk off. That man, police later said, is 72.
The 70-year-old then got in another line for a free cheeseburger sample. Then the same man returned and walked up to the stand. Not cool.
The 70-year-old said he could cut the 72-year-old in line in front of the cheeseburger stand, since he was sure the 72-year-old would cut the line anyway.
The 72-year-old responded, “I will do it again!”
Jousted the 70-year-old: “You’re a jerk.”
For the two men who had yet to clinch the signature bliss that is a free Costco cheeseburger sample, those were fighting words.
According to an incident report conducted by the Greenville City Police Department, the 70-year-old said the other man hit him on the right side of his head, knocking off his hat and glasses.
A Costco employee who was working at the stand told police that she saw the two men arguing in front of the sample station. She described a man in a Hawaiian shirt handing a loud blow to the other man’s head.
Police later identified the older man and gave him a call. The man told police “that he did have an altercation with a man in Costco and that he hit the man’s hat off his head after the man got in his face,” according to the report. The 72-year-old said he thought the younger man was going to hit him because he was balling his fist. He said he slapped the man, rather than punch him with a closed fist.
The incident report police provided to The Washington Post was heavily redacted, erasing any trace of who the sample-enthusiasts might be. It does say, however, that the altercation was not related to terrorist, gang or hate-group activity. Phew.
An officer wrote in a supplemental report that surveillance footage showed the man swinging his left arm at the other, knocking his hat off and then backing away, as if out of fear that the other man would strike back.
Donald Porter, a spokesman for the Greenville Police Department, said officers have talked with both men, but there are still inconsistencies in their stories. The department is working with Costco to get surveillance footage of the incident to help determine whether any charges should be brought. No arrests have been made.
Before a reporter could even ask an employee at the Greenville Costco if she had any information about the sample showdown, the employee said, “We can’t speak on that incident.” Through a spokesman, Costco’s corporate office declined to comment.
In the meantime, the online community of free-cheese lovers is weighing in.
“Honestly, if someone stepped between me and free cheese, I might do the same thing,” wrote one person on Twitter.
Or, as another put it, “Is this.... my future?”