ON a balmy Sunday evening after church, my husband and I and a friend made our way to Coles for a quick shop.
Given it was quite late and we hadn’t yet had dinner, he suggested we get Subway.
It seemed like a good idea to sit and eat, instead of trying to scoff it down while navigating the supermarket aisles.
It was a decision that saw the three of us face to face with a masked man wielding a knife not five minutes later.
We had the misfortune of being in the Nowra Mall Subway at the time it was held up by a would-be armed robber.
Behind me I heard someone shake on the locked door as my husband got up and moved towards the other entrance, hoping to lock the person out.
He’d seen the man wearing a balaclava and assumed it was an attempted robbery.
As he approached the door, the man drew a knife from a bag; my husband hurried back to the table.
I looked up and all I saw was a man dressed in black charging towards the counter with the weapon outstretched.
My husband grabbed the two of us and said, “We have to get out of here”.
As we ran out of the store I was thinking clearly enough to yell, “Someone call triple-0”, but not enough to actually get my phone out to do so.
From the entrance to the mall we phoned triple-0, while I checked no one else would try to enter the store.
It felt wrong to run and leave the staff – the owner, a young man and a young woman – alone in the store.
However it made sense to reduce the number of potential casualties.
As you have probably heard by now, the man ran from the store, without harming anyone and without getting any money.
Slightly rattled we returned to Subway and waited for police to arrive.
On the way home, we reflected on the experience.
Had we been in the US or a country with looser gun laws, we could have been facing a barrel instead of a blade.
Then just last night, another armed hold-up in Bomaderry – this time two men with a rifle.
I can’t imagine the fear the staff must have felt.
What compels people to enact such desperation for what – a few hundred dollars out of a cash register?
What gives them the right to threaten someone else’s life for money?
If police can find them, the courts can prosecute the offenders, but I don’t know if that will ever deal with the root of the problem.
There are too many in our community stuck in cycles of violence, generational poverty, addiction – people who are losing their purpose and their humanity.
This is the real problem, and until we find a way to address that, I believe we will continue to see more of the same.
So here’s a thought – instead of heaping more negativity onto an already downright horrible situation, let’s try to bring life to our community and its people with encouragement, kindness and generosity – no matter who they are.
You might make enough of a difference to help a desperate person make a good choice, instead of a bad one.