I had only begun working as a cashier in Dundalk branch that morning. I needed to appear efficient. This had not been helped by my wearing one dark navy and one black shoe to work that morning, after getting dressed hurriedly in the dark. Nobody noticed my error in the hectic bank.
The woman came up to my counter early that day. She wore a headscarf and sunglasses. It wasn't sunny out but they made her look glamorous, even if she was middle-aged. Then she asked for the cash. I was worried about handing over that amount even though there was plenty of money in the account. The staff of the branch knew her and told me to give it to her.
Then I looked closely at her. Her sunglasses covered two puffy eyes. Make-up covered the bruises. Once I noticed it, I couldn't take my eyes off her. She shifted uncomfortably. I asked her to fill in the form. Then I saw her fingers. The tops of all her fingers had been damaged. They were old injuries. The skin had regrown but the fingers looks mutilated. Two of her finger nails were missing altogether. Again, it was an old injury.
Shaking, I gave her the money and she left, saying very little. I was busy all day but I could not forget her.
At three o'clock a man appeared at the counter. He was friendly and very chatty. He told me that he had to go to Cork and needed a couple of thousand from his account. I immediately realised it was the same joint account that the lady had withdrawn money from. Once I verified his identity I got the money ready. He rambled, unnecessarily, as I counted it out. "My wife decided to go to Cork on the spur of the moment. I don't know why she does things like that. You know women, impulsive."
I handed him the money without a word. I hope she got away.