“Don’t start up with me!”

Israel has everything. Even bank robberies. 

One sunny morning in March, a young banking executive fresh out of business school, arrived to work in Ramat Beit Shemesh. She had traveled on two buses to arrive on time. 

She arrived at the bank on a day that appeared to be an ordinary day with customers coming and going. Suddenly, she saw a young Israeli man wearing a black wig come into the bank and hand a note to a teller that read,

“I am a robber; give me your money!”

He hinted he had a pistol by pointing to his hip where the holster was.

In a bad-tempered voice, he said to the teller,

“Don’t start up with me.” 

The cool as a cucumber teller gave him the money from the designated drawer and quietly pressed a button with her foot alerting the police. The tellers have a drawer with special money they are instructed to give in the event of a robbery.

Immediately, the bank manager locked the bank waiting for the police.

Five minutes passed; no police.

Ten minutes went without notice and twenty minutes whirled by, but still the police hadn’t arrived. 

Finally, thirty minutes later the police came to the rescue.

“Where is the robber?” The police breathlessly asked the perplexed branch manager who diplomatically replied, 

“He left thirty minutes ago.” 

After the police left the bank, the branch manager brought in a psychologist to calm the emotionally distressed teller. 

The highly trained professional told her,

 “In order to get over a fear, you have to accept it and face it.” 

So the bank manager told the trembling employee,

“Let’s not let this incident make you too scared to go back to work. You must forget about the robbery and continue with your life.” 

So she reluctantly returned to her post and the bank reopened. A customer came into the bank to cash a check. He approached the teller. She took one look at the customer and thought he looked suspicious.

 “It is his eyes. I recognize them from the robbery.” she said to herself. 

So she pressed the emergency button contacting the police. The branch manager again locked the bank and no one was allowed to come or go. The police arrived as the bank manager was shooting questions faster than flying bullets to the unsuspecting customer who turned out not to be a robber.

Later the branch manager was busy apologizing to the innocent customer and to the animated officer.

“Oops! We made a mistake. Sorry.” said the manager.

The robber was later apprehended by tracing his rental car, which was left in front of the bank, when the owner closed shop and noticed it.

Elise Brodersen is the author of Lihyot Israeli and Ani Israeli, a compilation of short stories to learn Hebrew. Published by Hebrew University Press. Mrs. Brodersen lives with her husband Baruch in Sharon, Massachusetts.