Friday, April 20, 2007

Robbed at gunpoint

I was a bartender at O'Charley's across from Vanderbilt, where the Starbucks is now. It was a random Tuesday night. It was about 11:30 at night. There were two customers in the building. A waitress was getting off work, and asked if I would walk her to her car. That neighborhood was a lot worse back then. I walked her the twenty steps out to her car and went back to the front door. I stood there and streched my arms and took in the cool night air. Literally, out of nowhere, a little guy in jeans, a workman's jacket and ski mask put a gun in my back, put his other hand on my shoulder and turned me around and said, "Let's go!" He led me inside, gun pressed to my spine and told me to lay down on the floor. I did as he said.

He rounded up the customers and took their jewlery and money. Then he went in the back. Waiters and kitchen staff were closing up for the night. I laid quietly on the floor, as he requested. After all, he had a gun. He went back to the office and pistol whipped the manager to open the safe. Eventually he came back out and said to the four of us out front, "Everyone come get in the freezer!" I got up and walked back into the kitchen. As I approched the walk-in, I looked at the padlock on the door. I was the first to enter the walk-in, so as the gunman was busy rounding the rest of the staff up, I picked up the padlock, walked in the cooler and dropped the lock into the thick mushroom gravy. He forced all of us, about 12, into the cooler and shut the door.

"Whew," I thought. "If I hadn't picked up that lock, we probably would have been huddled in here in the cold until six in the morning when the morning shift comes in." I was so proud of how clever I was to grab that lock.

Two minutes passed. The door opened back up. Dude in the ski mask cocked the gun, pointed it at us all huddled together and said, "WHERE'S THE FUCKING LOCK?!?!" Remove pride, insert regret.

The manager spoke up and said, "There is no lock!" Gunman said, "There was a lock, I saw it!" They argued back and forth, and finally he shut the door. As he shut it he said, "Don't anyone leave or my partner is going to shoot you!" We waited about 15 minutes before venturing out and calling the cops.

The cops came. The GM was called. He took me aside and said, "Couldn't you have grabbed a bottle or something and thrown it at him?"

I looked at him like he was the idiot that he was. Grab a bottle and throw it a a guy with a gun who is going to take O'Charley's money? It was a ridiculous question that didn't deserve an answer.

I have read things from people questioning the bravery of the victims at VT. Things like, "If three of them had rushed the gunman, maybe they could have save dozens of lives."

If you think that, you are a total fucking idiot.

I remember it like it was last week. I was laying on the floor in the dining room while the gunman was in the back. I could have gotten up and run out the door and gone next door and called the cops. But I didn't. Why? Because the motherfucker HAD A GUN. He could have come out as I was leaving and shot me in the back. Or come out after I left and said, "Where's the dude with all the hair?!?" and started shooting all my friends. What if I had saved my ass at the expense of my co-workers? Would that make me a hero? When someone has a gun, you don't act like a hero, you do what he says. I'm a big motherfucker. I'm a brave motherfucker. You know what? Little dude HAD A FUCKING GUN!

To think that I should have been packing heat on a random Tuesday at O'Charleys is ridiculous. To think that I should have attacked the gunman with a bottle of Absolut is laughable. To think that a professor or a student or an RA at Virginia Tech should have awakened on a random spring day expecting a gunfight is ridiculous. Blacksburg became Pearl Harbor that day. It was an ambush.

Motherfucker had a gun. Chained the doors, walked into class and started shooting. If you have ever been on the wrong end of a gun, you know the sheer terror and helplessness that those people were feeling. If you have never been on the wrong end of a gun, shut your fucking mouth.


At 11:54 PM , Blogger Ginger said...

Well said.

I worked at that O'Charleys as a hostess back in the day. I was still a college student at Belmont. I think it was 1986, 87, 88...were you there then? The manager was an older blonde man w/ glasses. Still remember his goofy face.

I'm so glad you survived such a horrendous ordeal.

Nobody has any room to talk unless they have walked a mile in someone else's shoes.

At 12:23 AM , Blogger chez béz said...

Mister GM should have had a bottle thrown at him mere seconds after a comment like that.

At 12:51 AM , Anonymous Ivy said...

I was robbed at gunpoint when I lived off Harding Place in Nashville 15-odd years ago. I handed the dude all the shit he wanted, including a couple of guns.

My ex-husband was angry with me. "Why didn't you shoot him?" Because I didn't know if the safety was on or off. Because I wasn't sure if any of the guns were cocked. Because I was pretty sure the sawed off shotgun was cocked, but my ex husband said it would probably break my hip if I ever fired it. Because I was pretty sure I was pregnant with Aaron at the time and I didn't want to take any chances with either of our lives. That's why.

Needless to say, I'm 100% in agreeance with your post.

Cool move on the padlock.

At 10:41 PM , Anonymous malia said...

100% agreed.

Thanks for posting this. So many people out there just don't get it.

At 8:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sis Knuck here from Tampa. Amen my brother. I am just glad you are here in one piece. Wonderful quick thinking on the lock. That’s why you’re my bro.

At 12:03 PM , Blogger Ginger said...

I don't know how to do trackbacks, so here:

At 3:40 PM , Blogger NSC said...

Being robbed is far different from being hunted and shot down in cold blood. The robber wanted money and the gun was just a way to get you to give it to him. The VA Tech killer wanted nothing but to kill. Attacking the robber would have indeed been stupid because you would have been risking your life for money that wasn't even yours. Attacking the VA Tech killer might have gotten you killed, but standing there and doing nothing certainly would get you killed. I would take the might over the certainly any day.

At 4:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attacking the VA Tech killer might have gotten you killed, but standing there and doing nothing certainly would get you killed.

Hindsight's a great thing, isn't it?

At 7:21 PM , Blogger NSC said...

Of course hindsight is 20/20. But that's not the point. The point is that this guy's story about a robbery has nothing to do at all with the VA Tech tragedy. Nothing. Nada. They are two different situations totally.

Frankly unarmed kids shouldn't have to attack a shooter. An armed professor or student would have been on an equal footing with him.

At 8:54 AM , Blogger Exador said...

From what I've read of the witness' accounts, the guy did not 'line everybody up'. He basically walked in and started shooting.
If you've ever been in one of those college lecture halls, they have seating like in a movie theatre, without the padding.
So let me get this straight...I'm supposed to climb over row after row of seating to 'rush' the guy, instantly putting me first in line for people to be shot.

At 3:37 PM , Blogger Pattie said...

I've been searching the net for just this exact same series of events for a robbery of an O'charley's in T.N.Were they caught? If not.....I may know who robbed you,did they give the women their coats?

At 4:32 PM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

There were no coats. It was early fall. This was over 15 years ago.


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