I was in the office alone, posting patient payments like I did every Wednesday afternoon. I looked up to see a scruffy older man slowly making his way to the glass partition that separates my desk from the waiting area. He asked me if Medicaid covered dental care for adults. I told him no. Then, he asked me how much it would cost to have a tooth pulled. I gave him quotes for an x-ray and an extraction and offered to make him an appointment. He scanned the room as he talked to me, never removing his right arm from behind his back. He refused an appointment. As he left, he scooted to the side out of my view before he turned to walk out.
I started to feel a bit troubled as the memory of my friend being held up at gunpoint at a McDonalds when she was in college. I locked the front door. Then, I started feeling guilty. I was always supposed to keep the door unlocked, and I knew that Dr. D would have a conniption if he found out. After all, someone might need to pay on an account or make an appointment. We couldn’t have the world inconvenienced by my apprehension. I really didn’t want to tick Dr. D off, so I unlocked the front door, but made sure the door between my desk and the waiting area was secure. I left the glass partition open because I was certain that no one would try to climb through it.
About ten minutes later a teenage girl sauntered to the window at my desk. “Do you accept Medicaid?” I told her yes. At the absolute most, she was eighteen, so she had dental coverage.
She snapped her right jaw over and over and jerked her head down to her neck on her right side. “I have a toothache.” She continued snapping her jaw and bobbing her head.
“The first available appointment I have is tomorrow morning at ten. Would you like it?”
“What is your name?”
“Tanya Smith.” I scribbled her name in the appointment slot, and made out an appointment card and handed it to her. She didn’t take it from my hand.
“I want to see the dentist, now!”
“I’m sorry. He’s not here today, but he can see you tomorrow morning.”
“Is there anyone else here?”
“No, but the dentist will be here in the morning.”
All of a sudden I was staring down the barrel of a revolver. The barrel seemed a foot long and it was so black that it shined blue. “Give me all the money!” She waved the gun even closer to my face. If she shoved it any closer, I would be able to feel the cold metal against my skin.
With both hands clasped around the handle, she had a steady grip on the gun. He arms never flinched, all the while her jaw snapped like a warped record. I figured I must be in the middle of a really bad dream. This could not possibly be happening in real life. I pinched my right arm with my left hand. Dang, it hurt. It was a real live nightmare, and it was my nightmare.
“I said give me all the money in here.” I actually let out a chuckle. It must have been my nerves getting the best of me. I opened the cash drawer and pulled out two insurance checks and a personal check from a patient. I thought everyone knew that dental offices did not deal in cash. I dropped the checks onto the desk for her to see.
“No, I want your money!” It was as if she knew I had just cashed a large insurance check at the bank before I came to work. I was supposed to pick my car up after work at the repair shop.
I bent down to reach my purse under the desk. “Get back up here where I can see you. Did you push a button?’
“No.” It dawned on me that she thought we had a silent alarm. I wished we had an alarm system.
“I asked you did you push a button.”
“I told you I did not.” I decided then and there that I was not going to give my money to this crazy girl . She was going to kill me and I was NOT going to give her my money to boot.
It was exactly one week before Christmas, and this lunatic was going to shoot me. My Aunt Jenny’s voice popped in my head which the words she’d spoken to me when I was a teenager. “If you are ever in distress, call on the name of your Lord”. I started praying under my breath. “Please God, show me what to do. Help me get out of this alive. Please don’t let my children become motherless. They are so young and still need me.” She was still yelling at me, but I couldn’t hear her words over the words I was praying in my head.
Then, I heard the voice inside my head. “Run. Just run.”
At some point I stood up. “Sit back down and be quiet.” I thought this girl is going to kill me. My husband and children’s Christmases will be ruined forever. Inside I panicked. Outside, I was composed (only by the grace of God). I knew the space between the pistol and me was the divider between my life and my death.
“Give me your money. Now! ”
I started to rise again. She yelled at me to sit down. “I’ll get you my money. It’s in the back.” I lied to her.
“No. You ain’t going nowhere!” She thrust the gun at me.
“You can come with me“, I offered. I had no intention of letting her through to my side of the door.
“Sit down! Don’t move!” I could hear the tremble in her voice. I continued rising and backed away from my chair to the other side of the counter and dropped to the floor behind the counter out of her line of vision. I didn’t think she could get a clean shot at me. The voice kept pleading with me to just go for it. I decided that I had no alternative but to go for it. I assumed that if she shot me when I stood up it would hit me in my back. I might be paralyzed me, but probably wouldn’t kill me or disfigure my face. Then I wondered how I could be so vain when my life was flashing before my eyes. It was my only chance. The voice told me to go. To run for my life. Not to look back.
I darted down the hall and out the rear door, never looking back. I reached the first business. Door locked. Second office. Door locked. Where the heck were these people? Did the whole complex take off on Fridays? The third door I reached was the management office. It was unlocked. I pushed the door closed behind me and locked it. Did I really think she was going to follow me? I bolted up the steps two at a time. And I lost it. I started shaking and crying. I was barely coherent. The secretary called the police and Dr. D.
When the police arrived, I went back to the dental office. The rear and front doors were wide open. The three checks were still lying on the desk. My purse with all my money intact was under the desk where I had left it. I filed the necessary reports. They dusted for fingerprints. Dr. D arrived and told me I could leave for the rest of the day. What a guy!
The girl who temporarily stole my life was never caught. But I was reunited with my God who whispered me safely into His arms.