I could have died.

When I was 11 years old I was working at a Laos grocery store where I helped my mom package produce, bagged groceries, organize products and fetch shopping carts. On this particular day, it was a Sunday night everything seemed normal this man came into the store. He had on a black beanie that covered his face and he said, “Who has money?” as soon as he said that the cashiers were answering and assuming he meant who has money to cash a check? The first to answer was a female cashier and she replied, ” I don’t have any money and told the man the cashier next to her might have money.” So, the man went to the male cashier and the male cashier told him he did have money. Once the man heard that, he pulled out his gun and demanded money, he pointed his gun to the ceiling and pulled the trigger which terrified everyone.

What was I doing while this was happening you might be wondering to yourself? Well, while all of this was happening before it turned into a robbery I was in the front of the store with all of the cashiers and it was close to 8 o’ clock which is when the store closed, so I was watching a Thai drama on the television along with one of the other female cashiers. Once we heard the gun shot we left. The female cashier I was with left first, she was scared for her life. She ran to the back of the store screaming. Before leaving, when I heard the man demand money I was contemplating whether or not I should go back and press this alarm button which signaled the police. I was scared that if I pressed it, an alarm would go off and then more of us would end up hurt or worse. So I decided not to risk it and leave. Meanwhile, I slowly walked to back of the store myself. On my way there, I saw one of my friends, Jake, who was talking to the owner of the store. Except, the owner was in her office safe and Jake was speaking to her through a window. Jake was trying to get his paycheck. When I saw him, I told him we need to leave and I pushed him to the back of the store with me.

Before we got far enough to be safe another shot was fired which hit the male cashier because he didn’t want to give up the money fast enough or at least to the robber’s standards. The robber shot him in the arm and once he got his money he left. That cashier, Sam, ended up in the back of the store in the produce section with my mom. My mom was helping him with his wound. The owner of the store learned what had happened and called 911. No one else was hurt. Back to that alarm I didn’t press, thankfully I didn’t because once we (the employees in the back of the store) got the okay that the robber had left. We went to the front of the store and one of the owners of the store pressed the alarm button which of course like I thought triggered a LOUD sound that said, “Police are coming, Police are coming…” over and over again. Who knows what would’ve happened if I had pressed that button.

The police arrived after 10-15 minutes. I saw that my mom was okay and we stayed together until we could leave. The police questioned everyone including me. I translated for my mom. The officers asked us what happened and to describe the robber. All that I remember now is that he was tall, 6 feet perhaps, possibly caucasian brown hair maybe and deep voice. Not much help, I know. Everyone lived and there hasn’t been a robber since. Since then security cameras have been installed, there weren’t at that time. The following day, there was an article in the newspaper and I told my classmates all about it because they’ve all seen me working at the store. A police man came to my house a while after and asked me to identify the robber through a binder of pictures of men they thought fit the profile. I didn’t feel like much help to be honest, I picked one guy then I changed my mind and when I did the officer told me himself that they themselves, thought it wast the second guy I picked. To this day, I don’t know if the police found the man.

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