Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Portrait: Vancouver, Washington

Sunday, May third, was shaping up to be a typical workday for me and my co-workers at the salon I work at. We'd been steady throughout the day, but as the foot traffic tapered off, my co-workers went home. By 4:30 pm, it was just myself, our receptionist Dede and my last client of the day. Thirty minutes before closing, Dede, the receptionist, began to count the cash from the till for the day when the door opened and she looked up to greet the incoming customer.

He wasn't a customer. He was a man with the only intention of robbing our salon. Though he spoke quietly, he threatened to shoot us all if she didn't obey him and demanded that she give him the deposit for the day and all the cash we had on hand. Disoriented, scared and confused, Dede quickly put all the cash lying in front of her into a bank bag and handed it over to him.

"I normally wouldn't do this," he said as she gathered up the money. "but I have a sick child at home."

He left as quickly and quietly as he'd come in, getting away with four hundred dollars. Dede slipped behind the wall that separated my station from the lobby, her eyes wide and her face pale and panicked. "We were just robbed."

Who robs a hair salon? Who would think to do that? It just speaks volumes to me of how desperate people are becoming. My own husband has been unemployed for six months and we are feeling the crunch from that every single day. But it wasn't until now that I truly felt the sting of it all.

Vancouver, Washington