Reserve Street: Missoula’s glittering jewel of commerce, and de facto depot for Montana drifters looking for a bite to eat and a ride to Butte. But when these different forms of upward mobility meet, things don’t always go so smoothly.
One traveler, who goes only by Jackson, had spent the afternoon of July 27 searching for used pickle barrels with a friend.
“You know, the big white ones,” says Jackson, taking a page from Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: “They’re great for washing clothes. You just add some soap and shake them up.”
Walking through the Reserve Street Burger King drive-thru, the two stopped at the window to ask the cashier if she had any barrels they could have, Jackson says. The cashier said she didn’t, and when Jackson’s friend began picking up pennies on the asphalt, Jackson alleges that the cashier began to shout at the men to get off the property.
“I guess we were taking a little too long to move, because a big 300-pound employee came out, went over to his car and pulled out a broom handle wrapped with black electrical tape,” says Jackson.
Inside the restaurant, another of Jackson’s friends, Linda Brotzman, was watching. According to Brotzman’s recollection, the employee began chasing the two men with the fractured broom, swinging until they were clear of the Burger King parking lot.
“I could see it all from the window inside,” says Brotzman. “All these people had their faces up to the glass watching.”
Restaurant managers and employees say they don’t know anything about the incident. Burger King District Manager Russ Woener says that no one has come to him with the allegation.
“That’s a pretty bizarre story, but you hear it all working here,” he says. “But I can assure you I don’t teach my people to do that, and as far as I know that never happened.”
Jackson and Brotzman both say they can identify the employee, but don’t feel comfortable going back to the restaurant to point him out. In the meantime, Jackson is searching for an attorney to hear his plea.
“For them to treat people like that, it just isn’t right,” he says.