Miriam parked her Mercedes in her designated spot at 8:42 a.m., just as she had every weekday for the last eighteen years. She looked at her watch and allowed herself a smile. Punctuality was one of the hallmarks of a civilized person. That’s what Miriam knew. She also knew that civilized people were in short supply. She supposed they always had been.
She checked her makeup in the mirror and patted a stray hair into place and headed into the bank to begin her workday. She greeted the staff already in attendance and made sure to complement each one in turn. It was what polite people did. She buzzed herself into the teller’s area and took her seat at her usual window and set up her station.
At 9 a.m. she was prepared to do business. At 9:02 the first customer entered the bank. She made her way to Miriam’s window though there were two other tellers waiting. Miriam gave her a warm smile.
“Good morning madam, how may I be of assistance?”
Miriam did the required transactions with quickness and efficiency; she was, after all, a consummate professional. She knew what the other tellers thought of her. Snooty. Up herself. Too serious. She took no notice of such nonsense. She was the senior teller after all; she would not be doing her job to the utmost if she did not set the standard. Not that they took any notice. She made a mental note to put out a memo.
Between transactions she looked around the bank to make sure everything was in order. Miriam had a keen eye for dodgy behaviour. The bank had dispensed with the full time guard and only used the services of one at peak times. Cost cutting to achieve efficiency they had called it. Stuff and nonsense Miriam called it. She made a point of being watchful as much as she could. She had taken other measures as well.
It was a slow morning and the other tellers were chatting amongst themselves when a man walked into the bank and went to the counter where the deposit and withdrawal slips were kept. Miriam did not like the look of him. He had very short hair and was wearing a black shirt and tie as well as a black windbreaker. It was a warm morning.
She watched him write out a slip and then make his way to her window. He didn’t say a word; he just handed over the slip of paper. Miriam looked him up and down and read the slip. It said ‘I have a gum.’
“Sir, what does this mean, I have a gum?”
He sneered at her and spoke in a low voice. “A gun, lady. I have a gun. Hand over the contents of your drawer now.”
“Well that certainly doesn’t look like an ‘n’ to me, it’s an ‘m’.”
“Damn it bitch, hand over the money now.”
“My word, young man, your manners are appalling. I’ll not have you talk to me that way. Leave here immediately.”
The robber stared at her in disbelief and put his hand in his pocket and poked it in her direction.
“What is the meaning of this? Am I to take it you’re threatening me? How incredibly rude. Did your parents not teach you any manners?”
“Listen bitch, I swear I’ll shoot you right now if you don’t hand over the money.”
“Well no wonder you’ve stooped to such activities as this, you can’t even write a proper note. See here, why don’t you get a job and become a productive member of society. The very idea!”
The other tellers had ceased their conversation and were wondering what the fuss was about. They decided it was just Miriam being Miriam and went back to gossiping. The would-be robber in the meantime couldn’t believe what was happening.
“Listen you dumb bitch, I’ve had enough – “
Miriam couldn’t have agreed more. She reached into her purse under the counter and withdrew her .38 magnum and pointed it at his face.
“No, you imbecilic ratbag, I’ve had enough. You have to the count of three to get your ass out the door.”
Miriam noted with satisfaction that his face was very pale as he ran for all he was worth. She put her weapon away and tidied her blouse as the manager came out of his office.
“Everything in order Miriam? I thought I heard a commotion.”
“Everything is fine Mr. Stevens. Quite under control.”
He beamed at her and headed back in and closed his door. Miriam straightened her blotter and awaited the next customer.