This footage was shot at a Seattle gas station and has since gone viral on the inter-tubes. The video shows Gregory Hess, 65, bashfully robbing the store after first buying a coffee.
“I really am sorry to have to do this … I’ve got rent to pay. I’ve got bills. And the kids need to eat,” Hess explained to the cashier. “If I ever get back on my feet again, sir, I’ll bring it back.”
It’s natural that our first impulse is to laugh—I mean, the scene is set like a Monty Python sketch. When Hess mumbles “I’m robbing you, sir,” the cashier asks, “are you sure?”
But I feel torn about this. As hilarious as the video is, it’s profoundly sad. Whether or not his story is real, it still paints the portrait of a man forced to succumb to crime (ostensibly, against his better judgment). And even if Hess is lying, there are undoubtedly others out there in the same position. (Oh, and then there’s the fact that no robbery at gunpoint is really a laughing matter—no matter how polite.)
The police have since apprehended Hess—aided by the popularity of the video—and he faces charges of armed robbery.