(Nathaniel Grann/The Washington Post)

Dave Williams

55, Silver Spring, NASA curation scientist

On a dark December evening in 1995, I’m leaving work when my world suddenly changes.

A man is running toward me in the parking lot as I get to my car. There’s a gun. Then we’re both in the car, and I’m driving around the busy rush hour looking for a deserted drive-through ATM.

Back and forth through the streets of Maryland in the dark with a gun pointed at me and a slightly nervous voice in my ear telling me where to turn.

Hoping none of the turns leads down an empty street. Hoping I’m going to see my family again. Finally finding an ATM and getting $300.

Not enough. We need to find another machine. More driving around. Finally, giving up, he directs me to a Metro station, gets out and disappears. I’m not even worried he’s getting away — just relieved he’s gone. After long interviews with the police, I finally make my way home to my wife and 3-year-old son.

It was good just to sit down and explain to my son what had happened. A little while later, he comes up to me with three pennies. “Here, Daddy. These are for you because the bad man took your money.”

Three pennies and a little innocence that I will never part with — worth so much more to me than what was taken that night.

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