I was wondering tonight. How many of you allow your children to play with toy guns? I have never purchased a toy gun of any kind for my kids. Even water pistols are the animal type that don't resemble a gun in any way.
My brother gave the boys Nerf guns last year for Christmas and they also received, from someone, a western shooting game. The game has plastic cans and bottles you "shoot" off of a log. The gun is a bright orange six-shooter and would never be mistaken for a real handgun. When used in target practice, those toys are fun and seem harmless enough.
Still, I feel that little cringe when I see them pretending to "kill" one another with them.
I'm not afraid of using guns. I've done my fair share of target shooting with shotguns, rifles, and handguns. I quite enjoy it, actually, and am a pretty good shot.
Mr. Schmitty is also in law enforcement, so guns are a part of my life, and I respect them.
But tonight, when my daughter stuck that bright orange handgun in my face and yelled, "BANG! Mommy your dead!" I reeled a bit and lost a little facial coloring.
My mind went flashing back about nineteen years. I was working as a head teller in a bank. It was a small town bank, just around the corner from my house. I had worked there for about 5 years and because I grew up in the town, I knew most of the customers that came in.
One summer afternoon, three of the seven employees had gone out to lunch. I and another teller were preparing our teller drawers for the end of the day. A man, I had never seen before, came into the branch and walked to the desk of the assistant manager. He seemed to ask her a question and then turned and headed for the far lobby. He stopped half way across the room and again turned toward her desk.
Does the hair ever stand up on the back of your neck and you just FEEL that something isn't quite right? I had just turned to my coworker to say, "This guy is making me nervous", when I heard her yell, "HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
I turned to see the man punching, the only male employee, in the jaw, repeatedly. He then instructed him to get behind the teller line and onto the floor. He went to my coworker and told her to put her tray of money in his bag. I just stood in my booth, paralyzed. He then told her to get on the floor too.
He turned toward me. He walked into my teller booth and stood to my right. He placed the bag on the counter, pointed his gun at me, and told me to fill the bag. I opened my drawer and instinctively grabbed for the "bait money" (strapped money with pre-recorded serial numbers) and placed that in the bag first. Damn him if I wasn't going to at least TRY to do something! At least they could prove where the money came from if they caught him with the cash. I didn't know how effective it would be, but it was the first thing that came to my mind.
After I finished he told me to get on the floor. I couldn't move. All I could think of was, "OH NO! The teller door can only be opened by a key or a buzzer!" It had closed and locked behind him when he had entered. I couldn't reach for the buzzer to let him out, he might think I was trying to push an alarm button. What if he panicked because he couldn't get out?
The thought of this only allowed my body to get into a squatting position. My mind raced with what could happen next.
Suddenly he threw himself up onto the door and over the top. He began to run through the lobby. I jumped up and started screaming, "HIT THE FUCKING ALARM!!" I desperately wanted that asshole's image captured on the cameras. I then picked up the telephone and called the local police department. My cousin, a patrolman, answered. I calmly explained what had happened, what the man looked like, and in what direction he was heading.
I then hung up and reached for my cigarettes and lit up. I think I proceeded to smoke an entire pack in about an hour.
Local police came. Bank officials came. The FBI came. Mr. Schmitty, who was then my fiancee, came. I could see him trying to peek in the windows. I smiled at him and gave him the thumbs up.
I noticed then how badly I was shaking.
It took a long time for me to get over the irrational thought that this man was going to get me in my dreams, in my room at night, or from a bush he was hiding in. Even after he was caught, only days later. I still don't know how I took such initial control and so calmly called the police. The company psychologist told me that I had very strong survival skills.
That may be true, but it's a day I don't think I'll ever forget. It's a memory that will send me into a tailspin by something so trivial as my daughter playing cowgirl.