Trauma (part 3) ~ Out-of-body

August 2011

Days passed by. Felt like I was in a fog. People kept coming in talking about the robbery. When they found out it was me personally, everyone wanted to ask me questions. I was jittery, jumpy, moody, cried all the time. Made a lot of transactional errors. Not doing well at all. Overly sensitive and emotional. Kept seeing people who looked like the robber. (They still haven’t caught him.)

I hated to admit it, but I was fearful. My mind felt cracked. Hard to explain. It was suggested that I transfer to another branch. I said, out loud, “I’ve got a lot less chance of getting robbed twice in the same bank.”

I asked for counseling as it had been suggested before. Found out I qualified through the company’s Employee Assistance Program. I called the number of the referred counselor but she didn’t answer. Being late on a Friday afternoon, she had probably already left for the day, so I left her a detailed message and my phone number.

The next day, I was working the drive thru. I’d been stationed there lately as it made me feel a bit more comfortable than out in the open.

A very tall, heavy-set black woman in a long, bulky, fuzzy, leopard print coat came in with her hood up, and it was one of the only other hot days that summer. This time the lobby was nearly empty and she stood out like a sore thumb. My heart was racing.

She seemed suspicious just from the look of her. I tried hard not to assume anything. She spent quite a while with a banker at a desk across from where I stood. Then she went to sit in the lobby area.

While working on a transaction that had just whooshed down from a tube, I heard an angry voice. This woman had come up to the counter and started badgering one of the tellers. She was obviously really upset; spouting off about her sister owing her money. $9000, to be exact. I was only hearing snippets as there’s a large window between the drive thru area and the rest of the bank. Her anger escalated til she lost it. She started screaming at the top of her lungs, “Give me my money! Give me my money now!” Over and over.

At first I thought the teller wasn’t moving fast enough for this woman. I caught her eye – she looked frustrated but not afraid. She was slowly gathering up a large amount of bundled bills and I noticed a couple other employees by the windows facing the main street. I called 911, realizing she was really trying to rob us! But then I hung up, I don’t know why, and walked towards the teller and was trying to coax her towards me. I was scared for her. All of a sudden the woman lunged over the counter at us, grabbing for the money! I staggered back and just then two police officers ran in and seized her by the shoulders and handcuffed her.

It was August 20th, 2011 exactly one month after the last robbery, and now an attempted robbery! It was too much for my weakened mind. I slunk down to the floor, backed into a corner and freaked out! It was like an out-of-body experience. Unfocused faces swam in front of me. Voices telling me I did great, it was over, everyone was ok.

I got out of there despite being told I had to stay til police took my statement. I didn’t care. I ran to my car and called my husband.

(To be continued…)

Trauma (part 2) ~ Cracked

July 20, 2011

It didn’t register in my brain at first. I looked at the paper again. I’ve received a few notes before. Deaf customers and elderly; some business customers, have handed over notes describing what transaction they want and/or how they want cash back, etc.

I looked back up at him, part of my mind thinking, do you have an account with us? Deposit slip or withdrawal? Any number of transactions might be needed. His eyes. Dark brown, dead, but not evil. Sorrowful? (My husband later suggested remorseful)?

His words still hung in the air. “Hurry up. Don’t play. Hurry.” I froze. For 1/2 a second?

I glanced over at the merchant teller. Did she see what was happening? I think so. I see the face of a young woman standing in line behind the robber. She knows. I reached into my top drawer. God, I know you were with me – I grabbed some of my 100’s, some of my 50’s and all of my 20’s (some part of me was thinking ‘no way are you getting ALL of my money!’) I handed him the wad of cash, and as he turned away I pulled the alarm trigger under the drawer. He dropped the note as he rushed out. The girl behind him picked it up and gave it to me. I called 911. They asked me so many questions – everyone around me was talking.

After he had walked out someone locked the doors. Customers inside had to stay. One of the tellers had a customer outside in the closest drive-up lane who saw him leave on foot. She followed him in her car, but lost him just around the corner of the building.

Cops came. I was put in a room alone. Soon, a woman cop took me to the conference room. I gave her my statement of what happened. A description. The FBI came next. Two hours later, I was released to go home.

(To be continued…)

July 24, 2011

{Excerpt from journal ~ July 24, 2011 Sunday 8:51 am~

Isaiah 61:8 “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity.” As you know Lord, I was robbed this past Wednesday the 20th at 2:15pm. I haven’t had much time yet to process what happened. I’m angry with the bank that I had only an hour or so with a counselor Thursday morning, then right back to work. Had a difficult time Thursday and Friday. Many “triggers” set me to tears and near hyperventilation. The counselor had given me a printout on coping with trauma and things to expect; bodily, emotionally, behaviorally, etc. Told me to take lots of deep breaths. I’ve prayed for and forgiven the robber and know I’ll get through this with YOUR grace and mercy.}

Trauma (part 1) ~ Fractured

July 20, 2011

My work day began as most others. A part-time gig that had turned into mostly full-time. My feet were throbbing, I was supposed to leave for my lunch break in 15 minutes. Lunch times were staggered. Having been hired only four months previous, I was low woman on the totem pole, so mine was to be 2:30 – 3:00 pm. I was starving! Just one more customer.

Looking back I wondered how in the world did no one notice this guy? It was one of our only ‘hot’ days that whole summer. Tall, African-American, with a heavy, dark-colored jacket over a sweatshirt. Dark jeans. Dark boots. Black stocking cap covered all but a rounded, 30-something face.

As I thanked the customer in front of me, he slid into view and with gloved hands (the word ‘Mechanix’ across the knuckles of both) placed a worn, yellow piece of paper onto the counter. It read:

100’s

50’s

20’s

DON’T PLAY

I looked up in confusion. Was this a deaf person who’d tried to describe their desired transaction? Was it someone from a retail store nearby wanting to pick up their order of cash? Just like in the movies, time slowed down. Yet a split second in reality. His eyes were dead. Yet, was there a hint of remorse there?

Before I had a chance to say anything he leaned closer to me and said, in a deep, low voice, “Hurry up. Don’t play. Hurry.”

I was being robbed.

(To be continued…)