The day I was robbed of my innocence.
The date is unknown. But I was 18. I was living like your normal college student and going to work daily. I worked for Wells Fargo as a Teller. My first grown-up job. My first job I had to take serious because that was my livelihood. My mother helped me get that job too. She was dropping me off for school in Phoenix Arizona. I needed a bank account so we stopped into the Fry's grocery store next to my new apartment. Opening my account my mom randomly asks the manager, "Are you guys hiring? My daughter needs a job." Sure enough, they were. I filled out the job application after we opened my account, they did my interview on the spot and I was hired.
I had been working there a little over 8 months on the day my innocence was taken. I was happy, I was learning Spanish from customers and my co-workers were great. There was never a dull moment. This particular day, I do remember it was a Friday, we were so busy throughout the day. It was payday, everyone waned to cash their checks and start their weekend. I was the only Teller with the Manager and Assistant Manager. It was closing time and the mad rush died down. The Assistant Manager just got married and decided to bring out her wedding photos. We were sitting there going through them and random people would walk up and I'd help them and go back to viewing the pictures.
This man in a baseball cap, flannel shirt and torn jeans walked up. He looked like a construction worker. Walked up to me and put down his deposit slip. Started writing on it and I'm still looking back and forth between him and the pictures. Another customer walked up in line behind him. He turned around and said, "Go ahead, I need to figure this out." And walked away. There was an ATM to the right of me where our customers would go and use the counter to write out their slips before seeing me. That's where he went. I helped the next person in line and she left.
The man returned with his deposit slip and handed it to me. I looked down and it read "Turn Over". I flipped over the slip and just stared at it. The slip read, "Give me all the money our your drawer. Do it now and don't say a word!" The man leaned over the counter top and whispered "Do it now and don't make me hurt you." I just sat there in shock, Like is this really happening? Who does this in a grocery store? I was stuck. All my robbery training went out the door. I kept looking at him and I would look down at the note. I swear I did this several time like it was not comprehending what was transpiring in front of me. He looked me dead in the face and said, "GIVE ME THE MONEY!" in a not moving of the teeth with a whisper in a deep voice kind of way. Then he put his gun on the counter in front of me and said, "I said NOW!" Lifted the gun and put it in my face.
My hands moved so quickly to my drawer. My heart was racing and I was in straight panic mode. I grabbed what I had, a few 5's and some 1's and maybe some 10's. I handed it to him. He said, "That's it????" Leaned over the counter to look in my drawer and it was empty. My managers still didn't know what was happening. They were looking at the pictures still and counting down their drawers. He said again, "WHERE IS ALL THE MONEY?" They heard him that time and one of them went to hit the button and he ran with his gun screaming, "Don't do it! Don't touch that button! Give me your money!!" She handed him what she had in her hand. She just opened up a pack of 5's and her drawer was empty too. He yelled, "THAT'S IT??" Like he was shocked we didn't have money. It was Friday! He took her money and ran out the door.
As soon as he was gone, they hit the button and started screaming. I just sat in my chair. Stuck. Trying to still process what happened. I sat there until the police showed up..... Silently. The officer came to me and asked if I was ok. I said, "Yes." He asked me to give my statement on what happened. I told him, "No. I need to call my Mom." He said, "You can call her after we are done but I needed to give my statement." I told him again, "No, Not until I get to talk to my Mom." His Sergeant came over and asked what was going on. He told him, "She won't talk. She keeps saying she wants to talk to her mom." His Sergeant said, "The let her. She is just kid and it's not going to cause any harm." They let me go in the back and call her.
My mom picked up the phone and I said, "Mommy." She said, "Why are you calling me from work?" And the moment I heard her voice I busted into tears. I told her what happened and she said, "Ok, your safe. Go talk to the police and call me when you get home." I took a deep breath, wiped my face and walked out front. I said to the officer, "Ok, I can talk to you now." I gave him my story and they asked if I needed counseling and time off from work. I rejected the offer because time off was not paid and I didn't understand to what extent this traumatized me. I went home that night and my apartment was full of people. They all heard about the robbery and knew I was involved. I walked into my kitchen and they handed me a mudslide. I drank it. Then I was introduced to Jungle Juice. I drank that too. After that was a blur.
I was told by my roommates the next day I was running throughout the apartment complex from room to room smoking on peoples bongs full of marijuana and then they would find me on the stairwell crying. They would ask if I was ok and I would pop up off the stairs, smile and run off again. They said it got so bad they had to trap me, pick me up and lock me in my room and force me to go to sleep. I woke up the next day super hung over with zero recollection of what happened. That was the first and last day I drank Jungle Juice.
I went back to work a few days later. Every time someone handed me a deposit slip, my heart would start racing. All I would see was what that man who robbed me had on his deposit slip. I couldn't read anything past that. I would have to take a deep breath and reassure myself it was not the same. Over and over and over again that's all I would I see. It took me months to get that image out of my head. Even though I can still see it today, 19 years later, its still engrained in my mind but I don't see when someone hands me a note like it once did. I eventually quit that job once I graduated and went on to work in the engineering field. No public contact what so ever. I felt safe there.
Back then I didn't know what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was. But I have it. A lot of people have it and don't even realize it to even want to admit it. It's not just for the military. Women and men in domestic abuse relationships have it. Sexual assault and even car crashes. All it takes is a major life event shaker for you have PTSD. I have it managed now but I didn't before and it showed in my relationships. I didn't understand why. I never talked about those event that happened except to my mom. I've told some people I've been robbed before and left it at that. I didn't want to bring up those feelings again. So how do we combat this? What can we do to ease the pain?
The first step is to talk about it. Release those feeling and not keep it bottled up. It will drive you crazy and make you feel like you need to be committed. There were times I almost checked myself in because I didn't know how to handle it. Take time to relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, massage, or yoga can activate the body's relaxation response and ease symptoms of PTSD. Avoid alcohol and drugs. When you're struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, you may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. And that's what I did but it didn't help. Let help each other through the healing process and know that you are not alone. You will never be alone. And you have a support system around you. You just have to open up and seek it. I didn't have a support system then and I didn't know where to turn but I now have the knowledge to help others during this time. Don't be afraid to speak up.