Thursday, January 12, 2006

Who Knew He Could Move Like That?

My step dad was in the bank yesterday, making a deposit, when the bank was robbed. I haven't actually spoken to my mom since that happened, but she told me in an email that it was a full-fledged, guns out, get-on-the-floor-and-gimme-all-yer-dough sort of robbery. Step dad is okay - he did what he was told and there were no injuries, though I suspect that not stepping up and making things right for the terrified tellers behind the counter was a profoundly difficult thing for him. He's like that.

Anyway, reading mom's story made me think about my own days working as a teller. I worked in banks for about five years and, thank God, was lucky enough to never have been in a branch during a robbery, though I covered for a branch after it was robbed at gunpoint, but I figured the likelihood of its being hit twice in one week was pretty slim. Another time, I had my finger on the button when a shady looking guy showed up in the empty branch with a duffle bag, but he came and went without incident.

There was this time, though, when I got a very interesting look at how things could have gone down if ONE TINY LITTLE DETAIL had been different.

I was working as a teller in a large, downtown branch. The office had just been renovated so that the entire front wall was taken out and replaced with glass. Sleek glass doors, a vast expanse of windows along the front - it was lovely. Anyway, twice a week, our branch received a visit from the armored car service. The routine was that one guy stayed with the truck and two guys came into the branch - one stayed in the lobby while the other went into the vault with the teller manager to execute whatever transactions were on the boards for the visit.

Our guys were Tim and Chico. Tim was a scrawny little white boy, about five seven or so, and maybe a hundred and twenty if he was lucky (that included the boots and the cute little badge they wore). He was quiet and polite, and it was usually he who went to the vault. Chico was a reasonably handsome hunk of latin man; just under six feet, chocolate brown skin and a charming smile to go along with his charming manner. He always stayed in the lobby so he could flirt with the tellers. The point that's important to remember for the purposes of this story is that Chico was AT LEAST 220 if he was an ounce.

One particular afternoon, Chico was leaning against my teller window chatting me up. I don't remember what we were talking about, but I'm sure it was something to do with begging me to go out with him (he tried to get everyone to go out with him - even the married ones among us. We expected nothing less). While he was running his smooth latin thang, a little old lady made her way into the otherwise empty bank. She came through the door and, as it swung shut behind her, we heard a loud CRACK! and the door turned to liquid and fell, in a zillion tiny, shiny pieces, to the floor.

Before I realized what had happened, I noticed that Chico had disappeared. A few seconds later, I saw that he had launched himself to the floor and was in a perfect three point stance, gun firmly trained on the bewildered lady now standing in a pool of glass shards. I mean it, in less time than it took to blink, he had registered the sound of the door's integrity breaking down, un-holstered his gun and was ready to react.

I later found out that mousy little Tim had heard the same sound, roughly shoved the teller manager into the farthest reaches of the vault and had emerged at the half door between the vault lobby and the teller line - his gun was pointed into the lobby from behind us, ready to confront whatever threat might have been behind the bang he'd just heard.

I felt much safer whenever those boys were around.