Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Stranger Factor

Today the PYB was listening to a podcast called Snap Judgement. Several of the episodes are stories about lives being transformed by the act of a stranger. Here's the PYB's....

While at student at THE Ohio State University the PYB had a piddly, part-time job in a Fotomat booth. Remember those? Her shift was from 3p-7p and then she'd make a bank drop on her way home. 

This particular Monday was routine, but it was the Monday after the turning the clocks back so it was pretty dark by 7p. When she arrived at the bank she pulled up to the curb and got out of her car to put the deposit in the bank slot. The lights around the bank were out so it was fairly dark. As she made a few steps toward the building two men came running around the corner of the bank with pantyhose over their heads. Honestly, pantyhose. She thought that only happened in movies, “Son, you got a pantie on your head,” (Raising Arizona). Immediately, the PYB tried to dash back into her car and was screaming her head off, but she didn't get the door shut in time. The robbers pulled her out and punched her in the face to shut her up and her glasses went flying off. Still screaming like a madwoman (she was) she was fighting back and trying to get loose. The guys grabbed the deposit from her hand, all $90 of it, and her book bag which contained a Glamour magazine, a tampon and her wallet. The asshole who punched her gave her a push and then they were gone.

She was so stunned she just stood there for a moment and then tried to find her glasses. How could she drive home without them? Truly she’s blind without them. A car pulled up behind hers and, thinking it was the robbers again, she jumped into her car and squinted her way to the gas station next door to call the police. Yes, this happened before the advent of cell phones. She wasn't making any sense to the gas attendant in the glass box while trying to explain what had happened and that she needed the police when a voice behind her said, "Don't worry, we saw everything and my cousin is chasing after them." 

The voice belonged to a young woman named Carmen Kerr. She and her family had been walking back to their car from a restaurant and heard the PYB screaming. They were in the car that pulled up behind the PYB at the bank. Carmen hopped out and ran after the PYB to the gas station while the rest of her family followed the robbers in their car. Lo and behold, they got close enough to write down the license plate number and then drove to the gas station to talk to the police that had arrived. About twenty minutes later the assholes were caught on the other side of Columbus with the PYB’s book bag and deposit.

Because of the involvement of strangers the three thugs were caught. Two were brothers and one of them had just been released from jail; he’d been serving time for manslaughter. There had been four, but they kicked one guy out. There was, after all, only $90 in the envelope and they probably couldn’t divide that by four.

Carmen and her family very well could have saved the PYB’s life that night as the thugs had a sizable knife with them (it was left in her book bag after the trial was over). The assholes were sentenced to six to eight years and hopefully they served all of it, but probably not.

That night the PYB asked Carmen for her address. She knows she wanted to send her flowers, but doesn’t remember if she did or not. However, she does remember sending a thank you card. Carmen gave the PYB a deposit slip that had her name and address on it. It was from Society Bank. The PYB has kept that slip in her wallet all these years. She’s looking at it now. She often wonders where Carmen is and if she understands the impact she has had on a complete stranger’s life and if she even remembers the incident. 

The PYB certainly does.

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