The bank was robbed and I was there...
It was a Tuesday afternoon like all other Tuesday afternoons. I'd finished my writing and was preparing a bank deposit. The phone rang. It was my girlfriend, Marilyn. You might know her, she's the one who taught me how to make a 5-minute chocolate cake in a mug. Today, she had lots of news and we talked much longer than usual. I left to do my banking later than I planned and I told Marilyn afterwards that it was her fault that the bank robber and I arrived at the bank at just about the same time.
Thank goodness I'm a senior because at my Toronto Dominion Bank branch I never have to stand in line. Today I made my way to a side counter and sat on the 'senior' chair waiting to be served. The bank robber was not a senior and therefore had to stand in line. And, if it weren't for our age discrepancy, we probably would have stood close or next to each other. Lucky for him, that didn't happen. I always chat with the people around me. I might have brought up the subject of the weather. Did he think it was going to rain? Was his basement flooded during the storm the week before? Did he have a favorite teller? Poor bank robber, I would have talked his ear off while in his head he was going over the last minute details of the heist which would be going down in the next five minutes.
A teller approached the 'senior counter' and asked how he could help me. I explained that I needed to transfer funds from my U.S. account to my Canadian account and wondered what the exchange rate would be. He looked a little nervous and I wondered why he kept glancing over my shoulder. But I was focused on exchange rates and didn't take too much notice. I vaguely remember hearing a police siren very close by but the bank is on a main thoroughfare so I thought little of it.
The complete transaction with my teller took me about eight minutes. All the while I noticed that while it was business as usual for the other tellers, the supervisors seemed to be moving around very quickly. I checked my watch. Right. It's just about closing time, I thought. There's always a last minute rush for them to get everything done in time. My own young teller was polite enough but why did he keep looking over my shoulder? There seemed to be a bit of confusion coming from the front of the bank but there was a pillar blocking my view.
It was only when I turned to leave that I saw the policemen, the security guards, lots of bank customers milling around and the bank manager at the front door. No one was allowed to leave the building. An announcement was made for everyone to line up and show the designated police officer some form of I.D., and to let them know if we saw anything or anyone that was suspicious. People were gathering outside the bank eager to see what was going on.
Soon it was my turn to speak to the officer.
I didn't see a thing. It was all done so quietly, I said. You'd never know that the bank was being robbed just yards away from where I was standing.'
That's the way it usually happens, Ma'am,'he replied.
And then I was allowed to leave. I noticed a simple sign already posted on the front door. "Due to an emergency the bank is closed.'
When I got home, I immediately called my daughter, Erica Ehm (who is also my boss; the person I write this yummymummyclub column for)
You'll never guess what happened, I cried, milking the situation to its fullest. The bank was robbed and I was there!
Erica listened as I explained in detail how I could have been standing next to the robber, how he could have held me hostage, how he might have used me as a human shield, etc., etc., etc.
Know what she said? That's fantastic, Mommy. Start writing. This will make a terrific blog post.
Gurl-able is a word I should have coined back in the Eighties because that was the day my daughter Leslie (almost) totaled my little sky blue sports car. Now you're probably thinking gurl-able is a negative term. You're wrong! For me, it's a celebratory word implying a coming of age. It's my description of any female who demonstrates she is well able to take care of herself in our often unsettling day-to-day world. Gurl. Able. Get it?
The story goes like this. Back then I was a single mom who had returned to university to study film and television. I was at home writing yet another term paper to complete the semester. My teenage daughter asked if she could borrow the car for the afternoon. I agreed; I had confidence in her driving and thanks to my academic workload I wasn't going anywhere that weekend.
Well into my assignment, I got the phone call that every parent dreads. Here is a re-enactment of our conversation as best as I can remember it.
Leslie: (crying) Mommy, I was just in an accident with a guy. It wasn't my fault but your car is really smashed.
Me: (terror stricken) Are you OK?
Leslie: (still crying) I'm fine but I messed up your car.
Me: (relieved) I don't care about the car. I care about you and that you're OK.
Leslie: (crying) I'm fine. The police are here.
Me: What about the guy? Is he OK?
Leslie: Yes, he's fine. And he's talking to the police. He says it's not his fault.
At this point in the conversation (mean as it may have seemed to my daughter) I knew what I had to say.
Me: I want you to listen to me. Is the guy crying? Is he calling his mom?
Leslie: (crying) No.
Me: Then you dry your tears. Compose yourself and you go out there and explain your side of the story to the policeman. Call me when you get everything straightened out. I know you can do it.
To her credit, she stopped crying. She went out, talked to the officer, made her point and then (with some help from me) made arrangements for getting the car to the garage for repairs.
Believe me when I say It was hard not to take over and make things right for my daughter but I held back. I didn't rescue Leslie and it was a wonderful empowering gift for her. It was also a lovely life lesson for both us. That day I celebrated the fact that my young daughter was gurl-able. So what if she almost 'totaled' the car? She wasn't hurt. She was resilient and she showed me that under duress she was a female that could take good care of herself. Phew!
P.S. Fast forward to today. Lots of years have gone by and I've happily added grandmother to the assortment of hats I wear. My daughter Leslie's daughter is now eleven years old and already I see signs of this young woman's 'gurl-ability.' I shouldn't be surprised. She has a wonderful role model in her mom.
(My granddaughter at 6 years old already competing for her next belt in Karate)
How are you teaching your daughters to be GURL-ABLE? I'd love to hear. Really!