Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Memories Can Come Flooding Back

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.


Midwest Mommy said...

Wow! I can't believe this happened to you. I don't know what to say.

Christine said...

OMG! I'm speechless. And yet leaving a comment. How terrifying. My boys don't have any toy guns that look like guns, but they make guns out of everything. And they do have a marshmallow shooter thingy.

Megryansmom said...

What a terrifying experience for you. You ARE very brave.

kristi said... scary!! I do not let my son play with guns...well, only water guns.

Super B's Mom said...

WOW. All I can say is W-O-W.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

Everyone thinks that things like that will never happen to them, and then it does. Someday you'll tell that story to your kids and they will be very proud of their mother and what a strong women she is.

Megryansmom said...

Just conducting a test TY

Day Dreamer said...

Nothing like that has ever happened to me. I don't think I could react so calmly.


Laura said...

WOW - not only did the hair on the back of my neck stand up - but my stomach dropped! WOW...I am so happy it all worked out. How calm and collected you were...your ability to be so brave and level-headed sure saved the day.

I can understand your gun issue...

I do not like guns or gun play in the house - but it still happens.


mamatulip said...

This story made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

imbeingheldhostage said...

holy cow, my adrenaline is up from just reading what you went through!

beth said...

I think there's a little Ms. Jolie in you! Cool as a cucumber where it counted.

Bonnie the Boss said...

Okay Miss Sydney Bristow, you rock.
I can understand that bringing a flood of memories back.

Karly said...

Um, YIKES? I think I would have just stood there and peed my pants. That'd show him.

meleah rebeccah said...

Um...I am at a loss for words...

Kelley said...

Firstly, I totally have that western gun thing. The 'gun' mysteriously disappeared cause you can 'shoot' the cans with the TV remote! It is AWESOME!

And secondly, I am shaking just reading that story. How terrifying! I hope they got his face on the camera because of you babe.

Leslie said...

Holy shit. I mean, wow. I can't believe that happened to you.

Julia doesn't have any toy guns, but her friend Clay does. I hate it when they play with them.