I was tired from a long day on my feet. I was wearing a pair of jeans that were a little too tight and a black polo shirt branded with my employer on it. I hadn’t sat down since before noon and I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours the night before. My hair was a little messy and my makeup was fading. I knew that soon I would be home, but first I had to close the store and count the registers.
This was my first day away from my baby boy since he arrived in this little world. He wasn’t sleeping through the night yet. I was still exhausted from nursing and my mind was constantly thinking about him.
My staff member that was working with me that night had never met me before. I was his boss. But I was also went into labor the day after I had hired him. We spent the evening getting to know one another and I was catching up on his progress in the past 3 months.
I remember looking at the time. Ten minutes until the store closed. I saw a stack of product I needed to display. I walked over to the wall close to the door and placed the product back on display.
I remember the next 45 seconds as if they were each as long as minutes of my life.
The door swung open, triggering a chime to alert us to a new customer. I looked up to greet him.
He had black clothing on. Black pants, black shoes, black hooded shirt, black gloves. His hood was pulled up and his face was covered by a neon orange ski mask. He walked through the door almost in a strange crouch and his right hand was in his pocket.
Without missing a step, I treated him as a customer. I asked him how I could help him.
He took a step closer to me. He stood up straight and pulled his right hand out of his pocket. In his hand was a gun. He pointed it at me. And almost as I went deaf I know he was yelling at me but the words are not there. I knew what he wanted.
I turned to the cash registers with my back to him. I felt his steps get louder, I felt him draw closer. His gun still pointed at me when I reached the register, I began to type my credentials in the computer to open the cash drawer.
Terrified. shaking. Trying to keep me and the employee I had safe. Whom I had not realized until that moment already opened his drawer. He was shoveling the cash from his drawer into the man’s bag.
I got my password wrong.
He turned to me, yelling. Shouting and pointing his gun at me. Asking me what I was doing. I assured him I was tyring that I had made a mistake with my password. I focused. I kept thinking of the sweet little babies face. How I longed to hold his little body in my arms. Finally the cash drawer popped open and I began pulling all of the cash out, giving it to the armed man. He screamed “ALL OF IT” and I began to give him the rolls of coins. He rejected them. And then backed away from us.
His gun still pointed in our direction. He told us we cannot call the police. He has a partner in the parking lot watching us and if we call he will know. And turned away and briskly exited the store. I saw him leave to the right and watched him out of the glass windows.
I looked at the employee to my left, the look on my face was clearly terrified. Oddly enough I wanted to cry.
I couldn’t. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I was thinking every thought I ever had all at once. And feeling every feeling I could in that moment.
I snapped out of it. I tried using the voice dial on my iPhone to call 9-1-1. As fortune would have it. The voice command service was not available at the moment.
I managed to dial 9-1-1 and put on speaker.
The conversation with dispatcher was calm and quick and within 4 minutes the police arrived.
Hours of rehashing and hours of questions and analyzing. I then was taken to the police department and and gave a statement.
It’s been over a year now. I still think about this moment. I still ponder all the ways it could have happened. I almost obsess about it.
Sometimes I think maybe if that man shot me. Ended me then and there. I wouldn’t have to endure this pain I have now. My little boy would miss me. But he would be fine. Just like now, he won’t have a family with a Mommy and Daddy who love each other any more but he will be fine. But maybe I could have spared myself this pain.
Obviously I am happy to be alive. I am happy to see his sweet face. I am lucky to have all the things I have.
But I have those dark days too.