It was Christmas time, somewhere around 1995-1997. Our office Christmas party was being held at a well known little restaurant located in a rural, wooded area just outside of Montgomery County, Alabama. I cannot remember the exact location, I only remember that the restaurant was created inside an old historic school building. In fact, the name of the restaurant was “The Little Red School House”. Some of the employees met at our office and rode together and or followed each other because the location was so remote.
I decided to ride with one of my co-workers because she knew the location fairly well. We had a very nice dinner, the atmosphere was cozy and family oriented. The service was great and the food was awesome, living up to it’s reputation. The restaurant was closed to the public that night, reserved for our office only. As the dinner was winding down, and people started to leave, my co-worker and I lingered around a little saying our goodbyes, we were one of the last five or six remaining. We said our goodbyes to our boss, who had made the wonderful night possible. He went into the restroom as we started to walk out of the front door. My co-worker walked out before me, and as I stepped out of the door, someone was in my way. I looked up and looked into a pair of dark eyes looking directly back at me, hidden behind a red ski mask. I let my eyes wander a second further and I noticed the individual starring at me was also carrying what appeared to be a 12 gauge shotgun.
Fear and panic spread through me as I realized what was about to happen. All I could think of was that I saw him, and I did not know if he was going to shoot me or what he was going to do. God answered my prayers quickly as he brushed passed me bumping into me as he entered the Little School House. I literally ran down the stairs of the building and caught up to my co-worker, who was clueless as to what was going on.
I screamed at her “Go Neda go! Hurry! Get in the car”! I said “they are robbing the place, they have guns, I saw one of them, we have to go”! As she comprehended what I was saying, her hands began visibly shaking as she fumbled with the keys to unlock the car. That was the longest ten seconds of my life. I kept my eyes on the door of the Little School House, expecting the gunman to exit at any time and come after us.
Finally, Neda got the key in the door and unlocked mine. We hurried and got into the car, locked our doors and flew out of the parking lot on two wheels! She threw me her cell phone and I dialed 911. Neda just drove, and drove into the darkness, I had no idea where we were at or where we were going. All I knew was I wanted distance between us and that building. 911 had already received an emergency call and was in route.
Neda and I glanced at each other, and she pulled onto the side of the road. She said “Jaime, we have to go back”. “George (our boss) was still in that restaurant”. I agreed, but only with the condition that the police were there and it was safe and secure. As we pulled up, we had no idea if anyone had been shot, but I knew I was able to give the police a little bit of a description of at least one of the robbers.
We pulled back into the gravel parking lot and the county sheriff’s department was on the scene. We walked back in the restaurant and was very glad to see our boss was alive. He was injured however. One of the robbers followed him into the restroom, hit him in the head with a shot gun and took his wallet. He was very calm under the circumstances, as he held a rag to his forehead to stop the bleeding. Luckily nobody else was hurt. I gave the police a description of the suspect I saw, although very nervous about it, I knew it was the right thing to do.
Later that night, the robbers were located and arrested. It turned out that it was an inside job. The constructor of the crime was the nephew of one of the employees. He knew of the Christmas party and about what time it would be over, planning the robbery when most of the crowd would be gone. It was a night that seems like a dream, but one I will certainly never forget. For a split second, I saw my life flash before my eyes, I am very grateful for that ski mask, covering his face, and the grace of God, or I just might not be here today.