Law enforcement agencies agree that eyewitnesses to an event are often unreliable. Witnesses to a vehicle accident often make statements that they saw the crash when they heard it first, then saw the aftermath.
Before surveillance cameras jutted from every corner, the banks where I worked coached tellers to size-up unknown customers as practice for robbery identifications, ready to tell the police officer every detail. Taller or shorter than the teller? Muscular or lean? Hair―color, straight, or curly. Birthmarks, tattoos, or scars.
After one session where those of us who worked on the basement level were tested―in case we happened to be on the main floor during a robbery―I switched name tags with another employee. Mary wore VI, on her Wedgewood blue dress without a single comment, even from the employee at the next desk―an irony because seldom a day passed without a comment to me about my name. Earlier, a safe deposit customer had focused on the two bold black letters beside the bank logo on a white background pinned to my beige dress. “Six. That’s a strange name for a girl,” she said.
My heels clicked on the marble lobby, treaded softly on the carpeted areas, and hammered the tiled floors on the lower level. I trotted through every department with MARY pinned to my beige business jacket. Mary wore flats and walked with a slow gait. At day’s end, Mary and I reversed our badges. Not a single person in the three-story bank building had mentioned the switch although dark hair was our only shared trait. The obvious: I was half Mary’s weight and size.
So it goes with memoirs. When my twin, the other Vi, and I compiled our stories from birth to marriage for Double Take (Carr Twins & Co., 2014), we had different memories of the same events. Too bad we didn’t have cell phones with videos back then to see who was the better eyewitness.