College student is tied up and robbed at work, birthday girl asks if she should contact family about missing gift certificate

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dear Annie: I have been seething for two weeks over an incident that happened to me in a sportswear shop where I work part time.

I’m a 19-year-old female college student in a small northeastern town. I was preparing to close the shop one evening when a man entered and announced a robbery. He had an obviously fake gun, but we have a rule to cooperate in a holdup, so I gave him the $130 we had on hand. He then took out a flimsy shoelace and said he would tie my hands. It seemed ridiculous, but I let him tie my wrists behind my back just so he would leave. I figured it would take me 30 seconds to break loose.

Instead of leaving, however, the robber took a huge roll of duct tape from his pocket and, before I could react, I was gagged and bound from my shoulders to my ankles like a mummy. He left me lying on the floor of the backroom totally trussed up. The owner of the shop found me in the morning, taped up and exhausted from squirming.

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The ordeal made me more furious than frightened, because I had stupidly allowed myself to be tied up without any resistance. Now I have an added problem. My mother is insisting I quit my job.

I love working in that shop, and I’m not the least bit afraid, only angry at myself for being such a dunce. How can I get my mother to understand that this was a freak thing? — Tied Up Overnight

Dear Tied Up: You did the right thing to cooperate. You had no way of knowing if this man had a gun, a knife or an accomplice. We called the Chicago Police Department and were told it does not advocate citizens putting themselves in a position where their safety will be compromised. You were very lucky.

It’s actually healthy that you are angry rather than afraid, but it is pointless to be reckless. If you want to continue working in that shop, ask the owner if you can have an earlier shift and promise Mom that you will phone before you leave so she is reassured about your safety. Also, call your local police department and ask if they have a support group for victims of crime, or contact the National Center for Victims of Crime ( at 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255).

Dear Annie: A few months ago, my family had a surprise birthday party for me. In a card from an aunt and uncle, there was a note explaining that a gift certificate was in the mail to a store in my area.

I have not received that certificate and am wondering what the proper next step should be. Should I call them and let them know it has not arrived? Do I write a thank-you note anyway? What is the proper etiquette in a situation like this? — Party Girl

Dear Party Girl: Write the note anyway, thanking your aunt and uncle for their generosity and saying you look forward to receiving the gift card. If they haven’t actually sent it, this will remind them. If they have, your note will prompt them to call the store to check on the delay. Beyond that, there is nothing you can do. Happy belated birthday.

Dear Annie: I really didn’t like the headline above your column on an abusive husband, using the term “Hubby.” While we all know “hubby” is short for husband, it is commonly used as a term of endearment. It belittles the abuse by making it sound cute. Please don’t use that in your headlines again. — Sue Down South

Dear Sue: Thank you for giving us an opportunity to explain something to our readers, who occasionally complain to us about the titles above our column. We do not write the headlines and titles. They are provided by your local newspaper. Most of the time, they do an outstanding job, but sometimes one will rub readers the wrong way. Folks, if this happens to you, please let your local newspaper know. They want to keep you happy.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at