Mary Beth Writes

11/19/2023

A few of you might realize yesterday we were 1345 days since March 13, 2020, and today we’re at 1347. Yup, I used a different calculator. Just a fun reminder that precision depends as much on asking the right question as doing perfect math.

I’m in day #4 of having Covid. No more chills. I have a fever of 100.4 which is more impressive than the 100.2 that Len achieved on his Day #4.  I’m taking various OTC meds and I keep track of them in my phone’s notes because, wow, it’s so easy to have no memory of the last time one took something. I’m good. Enough.

Thinking about courage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.” (Mark Twain)

In 1977 I was a teller at a Saving and Loan just off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile aka Michigan Ave. My manager was Mrs. Moynihan who was straight from central casting. Fiftyish, iron gray hair perfectly coifed in a short bob. Wool blazers, plaid skirts, a little scarf tied around her neck. Her half glasses were on a string around her neck. If she was displeased with one of us, she would look at us over the tops of those glasses. She was strict and generally kind. She was married though she had never had kids of her own and we all knew it because she often tripped up and called us “her girls.” Even Dan, who would just laugh.

It was Valentines Day, which makes no actual difference to this story, just weird. The place opened at 8:30. I was at my window, I waited on a few people, then the next guy in line came up.

What I saw first was his big ole handgun. He rested it on the counter as he mumbled at me and I looked up to a young black male with eyes as big as planets. I knew immediately that he was needy and desperate and not clear about what he was doing, everything about that reality terrified me.

I brilliantly said, “Um, I guess you want the money, Huh?”

Right then, Mrs. Moynihan appeared from around the divider that separated her from us. She had seen him, seen the gun. She pushed me out of my station with her hip. Only time in my life I’ve been “hipped”. She proceeded to efficiently pull all the money from my drawer and he slid it into his pockets.

I was standing behind her. To my right was the short hallway that led to the small back area and restroom and coming down that hall was Frank, our very old security guard. Frank, anglicized for Francisco, was a short Mexican man whom we all liked and mostly ignored. He was in his 70’s and we were so ignorant we never considered what his life was like. After a lifetime of hard work, he was now still standing 40 hours a week watching customers and watching us. He had a brushy mustache and an easy smile if I tried to talk with him with my high school Spanish.  He’d laugh and try to respond slowly.

In that moment I believed that when the gunman saw Frank’s uniform he would start shooting. I have a scar from that exact moment because I scratched a hole in my own hand.

Frank walked out, the guy saw him and turned to run. Frank ran after him. Frank chased that very young guy for several blocks until the kid lost him.

Frank came back to us huffing and puffing and nearly in tears because he could not catch a crazy guy carrying a gun. The guy had, in fact, let his check cashing ID card from when he worked at a business in the area. Cops found him later that day.

Courage.  Mrs. Moynihan in her plaid skirt and reading glasses edged me out of the line of potential fire. Frank, whom we all mostly ignored, risked his life trying to catch a crazy guy 50 years young than himself.

“Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.” (Emma Donoghue)

 

 

 

Comments

Wow.

We never know when an angel will step in...even if it's a co-worker. My angel was a supervisor who pushed me out of the way of a very large overhead door descending on me as I stood at a dock door. I had pressed the button for it to go up but never heard it coming back down on its own. Supposedly it had a sensor in it to stop it. Nope. I'll bet he never knew he was an angel walking around on Earth.
Mary Beth's picture

Years ago, at a museum, I saw a little kid stumble on the escalator. She went down on her knees, caught herself with her chubby little hands just as she was about to go into those steel prongs. I scooped her up and handed her back to her mom who had been talking with a friend. One never knows when they will save others and then others will save us.

Good to know there are angels walking around in museums too! Like you said, one never knows when and where we can help or when and where we'll need help.

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..

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