How I Overcame Being a Victim

How I Overcame Being a Victim

When I was 16, like most other teenagers, I couldn’t wait to get my first job. I excitedly filled out applications and dreamed of finally making my own money. One day, I finally had my first job interview. I was hired on the spot, and began working at the local Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from my high school. I was ecstatic. All of my friends thought it was one of the coolest jobs you could get, primarily because of the free coffee perk. I couldn’t wait to begin my training.

During my training, I watched videos on how to provide excellent customer service, make the perfect latte, and even how to properly do the dishes. One portion of the video training was dedicated to safety training, including what to do in the case of a robbery. “I don’t need to worry about that,” I thought. “Who would rob a donut shop?”

I worked the night shift four nights a week. They were only four to five hour shifts. I worked there all throughout high school. When I began taking classes at community college, I continued to work nights. Closing became second nature, like driving a car or riding a bike. I grew to have great friendships with coworkers and customers. I liked my job, especially when I got promoted to shift leader. This meant I was responsible for running the shift and closing down the store. I was now in charge. I only worked with one other person at night, and no matter which of my coworkers it was, we usually never had any issues other than the local neighborhood kids loitering or the occasional dirt bag who stole tips out of our tip jar. I never thought anything worse could happen. But it did.

It was the summer before I was getting ready to transfer to a new school. I had finished my classes at my community college and was spending my summer working as much as possible. I closed the store twice a week and worked morning shifts three days a week. It was a nice schedule, and my goal was to make as much money as possible before leaving. I still planned on working at Dunkin’ on my breaks from school. I liked my closing shifts and didn’t plan on ever working part time mornings.

Then came Monday, June 29, 2015. It was a relatively normal day, aside from the fact I was working with another shift leader (who had needed to switch shifts with someone else). It was about 9:30 PM when I asked my coworker if he didn’t mind I pull my register from the front counter and count my deposit (every shift leader’s usual night shift routine was to leave one register open after 9). He told me he didn’t mind, but asked if I would wait until after he took out the trash.

Minutes after he came back inside, a man walked into the store wearing a ball cap, hoodie, and bandana across his face. I wasn’t all too worried at first because we had kids pull pranks all the time. When I asked how I could help him, he raised his right hand and pointed a gun in my face. I was in shock. I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I was in such shock I didn’t hear him barking orders at me. “GET ON THE GROUND!” he demanded. I did as he said. “Now, open your register. Come on, let’s go.” I opened it and sat on my knees as he pointed the gun to the side of my head and emptied the register. I remember my hands being on the container of lids in front of me, violently shaking. He then took my coworker to the back of the store to empty the safe. Before escaping out the back door, he yelled, “no cops, no phone calls,” and fled. My coworker immediately called our manager while I locked myself in the bathroom and called the police. They arrived in seconds.

I was able to identify the suspect because I recognized certain features about him. He was a customer who often hung out at the store only a few years older than me. The incident terrified me enough to stop closing, but not enough to make me quit Dunkin’ altogether.

I transferred to a school about an hour and a half from my hometown. This was my first break from Dunkin' in about four years. My first year at a new school was so exciting. I made many new friends, loved my classes, and met my boyfriend. I hardly thought about the robbery anymore. Then, in the spring, I was subpoenaed to testify against my assailant. I had to leave school a few times to deal with the situation. I had testified once already during the preliminary hearing. At first I had been nervous, but I was strong enough to testify to put the people—yes, he actually had assistance in this robbery—responsible behind bars. I didn’t let it affect my education; in fact, it caused me to want to do even better. I wanted to prove he couldn’t take anything else away from me.

He took a plea deal at the last minute and I did not have to testify in a jury trial. He received two years in prison, five years of probation, and is not to contact me ever again. I was so relieved and I could finally focus on school again. The semester ended and I would return to work at Dunkin for the summer.

It’s been about a year and a half since the whole ordeal. Yes, I was the victim of an armed robbery. I still don’t close at Dunkin'. I’m obsessed with locking doors and I carry pepper spray with me wherever I go. I did not, however, let this situation take over my life and I never will. I still think about and replay the robbery in my head from time to time. He may have taken away my sense of safety, but I wouldn’t let him take away the part time job I love so much. I am a victim, but I refuse to let this traumatic incident define the rest of my life. I encourage others who go through difficult times and trials to do the same; you are stronger than you think you are.