AKRON, OH—Local retiree Gerald Stennis, 87, has been waging a silent war against the Copley Road Walgreens for the past two months, family members told reporters Monday.
"I don't know what his problem is," daughter Lily Bergeron said. "Every time he goes in for his medicine, there's some kind of incident. Going to Walgreens used to be the highlight of his week, because the pharmacists all love him, but lately that's all changed. Last week, he knocked over a candy display. The store manager said he saw Dad kicking the candy bars down the aisle, even though he flatly denies it. I just know he's doing it on purpose."
Stennis has refused to explain his behavior, denying that there is any feud between himself and Walgreens.
"When I ask him what's going on between him and the pharmacy, he acts like I'm being crazy," Bergeron said. "That doesn't stop him from taking the manager's reserved parking spot every time he drives over there. He never did that until two months ago, so you can tell something is fishy."
Stennis' friends seem equally mystified by his strange vendetta.
"I don't know what's going on," said longtime friend Ed Bollinger, 81. "All I know is that when it's rainy, he makes a point to not wipe his feet on the mats and tracks mud all over their nice floors. If Gerry hadn't been a loyal customer for the past 15 years, I don't think they'd put up with his shenanigans."
Theories regarding the source of Stennis' feud with the pharmacy vary.
"Dad got the wrong medication a few months ago," Bergeron said. "But the pharmacist himself called to tell us they'd made a mistake before Dad even got home. They even sent someone to our house to make the switch. Dad was pretty steamed over that, but that's no reason for him to keep peeling the price tags off the vitamin bottles. It has to be something else."
Bollinger said Stennis may be protesting certain store decisions.
"Gerry's been complaining more and more about the Walgreens," Bollinger said. "He's been upset ever since they stopped stocking Tetley iced tea [in 1998]. But I think the final straw was when Rosalita, his favorite cashier, got fired. That was six months ago, but I think he considered it a real slap in the face."
Because Stennis has been known to harbor a temper, some family members suspect that the grudge arose from an argument with an employee.
"Lily asked me to stop in to find out if Dad had picked a fight with the manager or something," son Ryan Stennis said. "Everyone at the store seemed genuinely surprised that there were any ill feelings. Apparently, this battle Dad is fighting is completely one-sided, and he won't say what the hell is going on."
To date, Stennis' war against the pharmacy has largely consisted of petty acts of sabotage, but his daughter fears that escalation may be imminent.
"Dad's a stubborn guy," Bergeron said. "Right now, he's just doing stuff like knocking over displays and asking stock boys to see if they have any cherry-flavored Metamucil in the back and then walking out before they return. I'm just worried that one day he'll do something crazy, like pull the fire alarm."
Though Walgreens expressed an eagerness to make peace, no resolution appears to be forthcoming.
"If something is bothering Mr. Stennis, I'd be more than happy to discuss it with him," Walgreens manager Marianne Krieg said. "He's a valued customer. However, we are unsure how to make the first step toward peace, since no one has any clue what we did to upset him."
Added Krieg: "And I sure as heck would like him to stop opening the tennis-ball cans, so we don't have to call the police or ban him from the store."