Another Day at the Office

Note: This traumatic situation happened in the 90s, something I’ll never forget.

Ever think you’d wake up to face another day and everything go according to plan? Remain normal? Nothing out of the ordinary? Yeah, me too. But this would be no ordinary work day for me …

Several months of working the drive-thru window at my new banking job, I looked forward to working the inside lobby. I retrieved my cash box and set up my drawer like any other day, with the exception of being stationed alongside manager and friend, Judy, with her fifteen years of experience in the industry. Once all bank tellers were set with their consignment items, our security guard Victor, unlocked the front doors and opened for business. Because it was the beginning of the week, I felt confident the day would go fairly smooth.

After assisting a couple of customers with their transactions, I became startled by a commotion to my far left. I glanced toward that direction in time to see a masked man shove Victor against the counter, snatching his gun out of his holster. Like a surreal scene right out of a horror flick, the masked man shoved the gun against Victor’s spine, ordering him not to move or to turn around. Before realization hit me, another gunman shot by from the opposite direction with a stocking over his face, shouting obscenities and threatening that he would “pop” anyone who moved!

Another hooded gunman appeared, waving his rifle, shoving customers and employees along the wall, yelling at them to drop down and not move. Staring in disbelief and in shock, as if frozen in time, we tellers behind the counters, were still standing with hands in the air. As thoughts reeled in my brain, I hardly noticed that my hand was slowly etching out attempting to set off a silent alarm hidden under the counter inches from me. Out of no where, one of the gunmen jumped on top of my station, glaring with his gun pointed at me and growls, “You! Down, now. Or I’ll pop you!”

I was going to faint on the spot at best, or be shot to smithereens at worst. Thank the good Lord, I still had some control of my faculties and complied, dropping to my knees with my head down, all the while praying. Judy was not so lucky.

The gunman began ordering her to climb over the counter to go into the vault with him. One of the other gunmen already held Victor and the commercial teller with his gun pointed in their faces while they waited to go inside the vault once it was unlocked. The gunman became impatient with Judy and proceeded to pull on her arm attempting to drag her up and over the counter. As she struggled to raise her leg to climb, she stumbled back and was immediately pistol whipped after he jumped down, cursing her for moving too slow. He proceeded to push her towards the vault with the others. (Yes, my head was up and I was peeking.) Once the vault was unlocked, one could only imagined what was taking place inside.

One of the gunmen stood by the front door, holding everyone at bay spewing profanities and waving his gun back and forth. After what seemed like an eternity, the two gunmen ran out from the vault, throwing money bags at their partner by the exit. They ordered everyone to remain down as they scurried out the front door. After the ruckus, we began to stir and rise from our positions. Peering out of the windows we noticed the police were already on the scene (an alarm had indeed gone off), and they were in hot pursuit of the bank robbers who apparently had jumped into a getaway car. Instantly, I thought of Judy and the rest who had gone into the vault. They were still inside! Were they hurt? Still alive? I shuddered to think.

As I quickly approached the vault, I heard sobbing and my heart dropped! All three employees were lying face down. But the sight of Judy faced down with blood glistering from a gash on her forehead stunned me. A sob escaped me as I called her name. I was relieved to discover that in calling out, they all responded by sitting up and were simply waiting for one of us from the outside to come and get them. Upon examining Judy’s head, we knew her outer wounds would heal. But one never knows about the turmoil that goes on inside.

We hugged one another and let the tears flow freely.

After the police interviewed everyone, we were allowed to call family members to come for us. When Mark came for me, I was still trembling and immediately crumbled in the safety of his arms. I couldn’t wait to leave, go home and hug my kids.

Recovery from trauma is a process. Most of us were shaken up for quite some time after that ordeal and needed counseling. Some even quit their banking jobs to look elsewhere for employment. As for me, that moment in time would forever be etched in my memory. I myself experienced what is called a trauma-related symptom in the aftermath of that bank robbery.

Days after the incident, while on lunch break at a fast-food chicken joint, an outraged customer began verbally attacking one of the employees over his incorrect order. My heart was pounding out of my chest, my nerves felt like pins and needles. I left my food and made a hasty exit and got the heck out of dodge.

Reflecting back, one thing became perfectly clear: You can be “busy as usual” with the mundane things in life and at a moment’s notice, your world can turn upside down and you are faced with a life and death situation!

Life is precious not to be taken for granted.

© M.A. Pérez 2014, All Rights Reserved

Your turn. Have you had a traumatic experience or a close call when you least expected it?

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24 Comments

Filed under Bank Robbery, Social

24 responses to “Another Day at the Office

  1. I grew up with severe asthma and died a couple times, and many times was close to death, so much of my life was one trauma after another.

  2. atimetoshare

    I had a similar situation when I was just 21 years old. Not only was it terrifying, but it stayed with me for a very long time. I still have dreams about it, but in my dreams, I take out the bad guys.

  3. TaMika

    This brought me to tears as I imagined being there with you and experiencing this horrific ordeal…literally having your life flash before your eyes. Although it can have an affect on how you view the world, I’m glad God chose to spare your life that day; you have a gift that needs to be shared with the world. Much love!

  4. Mary what a horrible experience, these people must have no soul treating people like that and for what? Money, it really is a sad world if we think about it for too long. I have had an experience where I was all alone and caught someone standing at my window watching me. I screamed and yelled at him and thankfully he ran off. All the windows were locked from that day forward in our ground floor flat and I never want to experience that terror again in my life. I waited for hours in the hallway where there were no windows for my flatmates to come home.

  5. Mary, what a horrifying experience! Surely this is something we watch on TV and never anticipate it could actually happen to us in real life; but it can. I sort of know how you felt and how the memories seem to linger because several years ago I was mugged in broad daylight at the grocery store parking lot, full of people, yet it happened. I felt like I was in shock for days after and paranoid and petrified that I was violated and that the perps had my personal information, and address. I was petrified to be home alone and kept the alarm on at all times when I was home for many months. We changed the locks, but even so I couldn’t shake the feeling that my personal identity had been stolen. 🙂

  6. Everything we experience in life Mary, good and bad stays in our unconsciousness, in other words it remains in our psyche and how we process a traumatic event in our lives will determine our future response to it.

    In your sharing of this experience Mary we can see how you processed it and resolved it in your mind. We see this too with Maggie who instantly turned to God for help when faced with a crisis that she felt she needed to resolve.

    I find your expression in writing is very good Mary because it causes us to bring up a picture of the events your describing even motivating our feelings too and this is a sign of a good conveyer of Truth or fiction.

    Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne.

  7. Oh my Heavens Mary you scared me to death I thought this just happened to you, that perhaps you had left your job and got this one as a new job. Thank God it wasn’t now and also that you weren’t hurt back when it happened , but I don’t remember this happening to you. When did this happen ? I would probably have fainted what a scary situation to be in..

    • Oh, no! Lol It was during my days of banking, Melissa, 1990-1995 – definitely a turning point in my life! Although this horrid event is not included in my book, there are plenty of other eye-opener incidents that I do mention. I can imagine family members across the miles aren’t even aware of 😉 Love you.

  8. mandy

    Mary, I’m shaky just reading your account of this horrific event. I have PTSD and I recognize why you would, too! I’ve dealt with a number of “gun-related” events in my life and it doesn’t take much to set me back. Is this a story from your book or something that happened more recently. I’m so glad you all got out alive! ♥

    • Hi Mandy. This is not an excerpt from my book, however; it did happen in the nineties when I worked as a bank teller for five years. I am happy to say I do not suffer with PTSD presently but sure did for a long period of time back then. I know for a fact those feelings are real and very unnerving. Now I did have another incident “gun-related” and that is in my book … Yes! I am thankful that we all got out alive as well. It could have easily gone the other way.

  9. Oh, my, I’m so sorry that you had to go through these things, but I am thankful that no one was killed. Blessings and hugs, N 🙂

  10. Good Lord! That was horrific!

  11. Janie Urbano

    Mary Ann,
    Your stories never cease to amaze me. This one gives a new meaning to the word “Victor” and not Victim. As frightening as that was, your time was not up, and God had other plans for your life. Thank God for that, because we all have so enjoyed every one of your articles. My admiration for you grows with each challenge you have faced and God continues to “show up” on behalf of His precious princess.

  12. Maggie

    Yes, I have had a tramatic memory of a slip & fall accident with one of our customers. This was a couple of years ago. She must have been a little over 48 years old. She came in with her Brother & sister-in-law to shop for some perfumes from Perfumania. I had just clocked in to start work. Then right after I went inside the backroom to put my purse in my locker, I heard a loud bang on the floor as if someone fell down really hard! To my surprise, that lady was on the floor & she had hurt her head pretty bad. When I got close to her, I was able to see that there was a lot of blood gushing from her head. Everyone panicked; so did I, but I prayed for God to help me with my nerves so I would be able to help her properly. I actually took control of the whole situation. I told my friends we must call the Mall Security & report what just happened. Then I proceeded to call 911 for the ambulance to come. As I was on the phone with the operator from the 911, the lady told me to put either a towel, cloth, or paper towels on her head to stop the bleeding. I then went back inside to get a roll of paper towels when the Mall Security had arrived. He suggested for everyone inside the store to exit the store immediately. So, we had to close our store for a couple of hours. I told him that he must put these towel papers on her head to stop the bleeding. The lady on the phone then wanted to speak to him. It was like maybe 30 mins after when the ambulance came in to get her to the nearby hospital. Then the Mall Security called for Maintenance to come in & clean up all the left over blood on our floor. I tell you I still remember it all so vividly! Like if it was yesterday. When we finished with the accident report, the injured lady’s family had told us that this happens to her all the time for she suffers from Epilepsy. I had to pray for her as they wheeled her out of the store. So, I told my co workers I know all of us have different beliefs but please, let’s make a prayer for this lady. She needs our prayers now. They all agreed, we made a circle & held hands. We prayed all united. I know God heard us. I’m sure she is fine now. ;0)

  13. Mary Horgan Scheible

    Thank you for sharing this story. You did a wonderful job describing the scene and I was there body mind and spirit. The story at the fast food restaurant was something we have all seen and I for one, struggle with how to respond. The issue of rage is one that needs more discussion. Lately it seems that this volatile fuel is far too abundant in our world. I have read that rage is an indication of some serious unresolved emotional issues. That rings true to me. Here’s to spreading love, light, and healing where they are needed. So happy you and your friend got through this tragic event. May the blessings be!

    • Thank you, Mary. I appreciate your comment. You are so right in what you say. Even though this particular incident occurred back in the nineties, volatile behavior is even more rampant nowadays. There usually is a root cause for negative behavior and left unresolved results in extra baggage… I’m afraid there are no quick-fixes.

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