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I wonder what would have happened if I had waited until tomorrow to make my deposit. I most likely wouldn’t have missed my friend’s birthday party, or would’ve kept my perfect attendance rate at work. Unfortunately we cannot escape the past decisions we chose to make, so here I am, sitting on the cold floor of the bank, hearing the echos of the sirens nearby while two men are yelling at each other. But maybe I should backtrack and explain myself a little.
It was approximately 10 am when I entered the bank, I honestly thought that it was going to be like my usual interactions. Walk in, wait in line for a few minutes, make my deposit, and then leave. However it wasn’t.
I stood in line for what appeared to be 5 minutes, my standard typical wait time. Everything seemed to be the usual, that is until I got to the front of the line. It was about to be my turn to give them my money and then leave, when the doors swung open and gunshots were heard.
My first instinct was to cover. I swung my bag on my head with one hand and then followed by attempting to grab onto the stanchion next to me. Instead I grabbed onto the rope and in doing so I knocked it down. Creating a huge commotion in my general area. In other circumstances I probably would have awkwardly laughed it off. I of course was fully aware of the graveness of my situation that I was in and didn’t laugh.
I sheepishly turned around to face the man that had entered the building with a gun. He stared at me with disbelief for a moment before yelling out.
"Everyone on the floor now!"
For a good- I’d say 30 seconds I stood still. I felt paralyzed, like I couldn't move. Once I fully processed what he had said my body hit the floor pretty fast. For some reason I rose my hands as if that would protect me somehow.
All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind until I saw the man with the gun making his way over to the tellers. He approached one and made the others come out from behind and sit with us. Perhaps if I had been gifted in mathematics I would have been able to calculate the likelihood that I wouldn’t get shot if I tried to tackle him. But I’m just going to assume that it would be very low considering that I am not the strongest person around. But maybe some sort of adrenaline rush would sweep over me, similar to those stories that you hear where mothers can lift cars off of their children.
Of course this did not happen. I didn’t have any reason to suddenly become strong. There was no part of me that felt any connection to what was happening. The whole ordeal simply felt surreal to me, who would’ve thought that this could have happened to me of all people.
I stayed silent on the floor processing and reprocessing everything that was happening. I looked around to my surroundings to see the people around me. I didn’t even realize the amount of people that were currently in the bank, I’d say approximately 20. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice all the people going through this situation with me. People of all races, and ages. It made me really think about how we can go day by day, not realizing that people have, surprisingly enough, problems too. I know that it sounds crazy that I’m suddenly realizing this but think realistically we don’t acknowledge or think about the fact that a stranger could be struggling through things much worse than us, or even equally as bad things. I mean for a split second I thought I was the only person in this bank besides the tellers and the robber, yet there were kids as young as 5 years old with me as well.
I look up to keep up with what is going on, I see the robber shoving money into his bag, he follows by telling the lady.
“Take me to the vault.”
The lady does not resist and leads him to the area. I was a bit confused on why no one was attempting to make an escape and low and behold there is another man with a gun, wearing the same mask as the first guy, only his was navy blue. This goes to show how oblivious I really am, wow.
I thought about the people who trusted placing their valuable items in the bank, and it’s remarkable to me that nothing you hold is truly safe. You could go to extra measure and do crazy, ridiculous things to protect your riches, but there is always that chance that you are not safe.
The man with the blue mask walked around making sure that nobody was moving and that no one was doing anything.... sketchy I guess. I then got to thinking, that they had never collected anybodies phones. Were these two just willing to risk having someone call the police. From what I had seen in tv shows, the robbers would typically collect phones, you’d think that these two would remember something crucial like this. I don’t know why I was going on and on about this, I wasn’t about to try and call somebody. As much as I’d like to do something brave, I couldn’t I’m too much of a coward, but at least I acknowledge it and don’t try to pretend that I’m something I’m not.
I began to watch the others around me. Adults holding onto their children, people whispering quietly amongst themselves, some completely silent messing with their fingers. All of a sudden in the distance you could hear the faint sound of a siren. Everyone began looking around to each other before the man with the blue mask began to shout.
“Shut up! Stay down all of you!”
He yelled out a curse and proceeded to yell for the other man.
“Man hurry up, we gotta get out of here now!”
So now we are at present thought. It’s crazy how you could be so deep in thought yet time doesn’t even seem to pass, during my whole recalling of everything, I’d probably have to say that it’s been a total of an hour. Time is such a weird thing.
The other man proceeded to run out from where he had gone, the teller had not come out with him and it began to worry me. He couldn’t have possibly shot her, we would have heard the gunshot. The sounds of the siren began to get closer, and the two men started to panic. But in all reality what did they think would happen, that they’d get away with it? The likelihood of that happening is very unlikely. You don’t have to be gifted in mathematics to know that.
Both men got a good grip on the items they had looted and ran to the back of the building. I'm assuming they were looking for a back exit to escape from there. The police finally arrived and carefully approached the building. The people close to the doors began to signal that the men had escaped through the back. A few of the officers ran around the building.
The next few minutes were silent no one was saying anything everyone was staring at their feet, no one wanting to make eye contact. I can hear a few shouts and protests coming from outside. I can barely make out the officer telling the men to put their guns down. A few seconds past and then the last thing you hear are two gun shots. There's an audible gasp that is heard throughout the people here with me. I look up and see people grabbing each other's hands, mothers holding onto their children, swaying them back and forth, and some holding onto themselves in different ways.
The doors to the bank had been barricaded by the two men. A few of the other men in the building began to stand up and began to remove the items blocking the door. I stayed sitting, still a bit taken back from everything that had just happened. I wondered if they had killed the two men, or if they aimed for nonvital organs. Despite them keeping me hostage in this building for over an hour, I hoped it was the second one. The police then entered after everything had been removed from the door.
“We’re going to need everybody to come down to the station for questioning.” Said an officer who had blonde hair.
Everyone began to stand up and exit the building to get into the cop cars. I guess I was so deep in thought that I didn't realize the cop standing next to me.
“Miss?” He said
I quickly looked around and saw everybody had left the building and that I was the only one left.
“Oh, I'm sorry.” I said in a very embarrassed tone.
I began to collect my things that had been scattered on the ground. He offered me a hand up and I accepted.
“I got really lost in thought and didn't notice if she left yet or not but one of the bank tellers went to open up the vault for the robbers and she never came back.” I quickly said trying to avoid myself from rambling.
He smiled at me and then said.
“I'll have someone go check around the building.”
He put his hand on my back and began to lead me out of the building. There were a few cars left the rest had gone back to the station to start questioning people. I got into the first one that was available and gave a polite smile to the other people in the car. The same police officer I had talked to got into the car, along with another and began to drive down to the station.
I stared out the window looking at everything that we were passing by. This whole event had just been so weird and unbelievable. We never really think that the things that happen to us, would... well ever happen to us. I wouldn't say that I'm happy this all happened. I'd much rather have not experienced a situation like this. But we can't change what happens because it all happens for a reason. I guess the moral of all of this can be however you choose to interpret it. Maybe it’s that you shouldn’t try to rob a bank, that you should live everyday as if it's your last, that you should open your eyes and see the people around you, that you should realize what you believe is the most important thing in your life, or maybe that life isn't perfect because the world can sometimes be cruel; no matter who you are.