BANGOR, Maine — Whenever one of the banks Phil Drew uses gets robbed, he brings flowers the next day. It’s happened three times over the past 16 years, including earlier this month.
The first time was in February 1998, when two masked men rushed into the downtown Bangor Savings Bank on State Street, held employees at gunpoint and made off with $5,000, according to BDN archives.
A manhunt eventually led to the arrests of two men on Mount Desert Island. The men were sentenced to spend a combined 15 years in prison.
The day after the bank employees stared down the barrel of the robbers’ guns, Drew, a regular at the bank, walked through the door with flowers.
“I didn’t say much,” Drew said during an interview last week, “just sorry about being robbed, and hopefully this brightens your day a bit.”
Fast forward more than a decade to 2010, when a 25-year-old woman claiming to have a gun robbed the same State Street bank before fleeing the scene in a waiting taxi. Again, Drew, a Glenburn resident who works in Bangor’s municipal assessing department, showed up the next morning with flowers.
Early this month, another savings institution frequented by Drew was robbed — the Maine Savings Federal Credit Union on Broadway in Bangor. He showed up again, the next morning, with flowers.
Drew hoped the gesture would put a smile on the faces of the bank employees.
“If someone’s robbed, I would imagine that for the next few days or weeks, I would always be looking at that next person to walk through the door differently,” Drew said. “I thought wouldn’t it be nice if they saw the next person walking in with flowers instead of a weapon.”
Don Poisson, vice president of member services at Maine Savings FCU, said last week that employees were still shaken up the day after the robbery when Drew walked through the door, flowers in hand.
“It was a real mood lifter for everybody,” Poisson said. “It was a real positive gesture. When you go through a robbery, there’s a lot of feelings and tensions going on.
“You feel that there’s a breach of trust, and people are on edge for a little while,” he added.
He called Drew’s small gift “uplifting” for everyone working there.
The credit union’s employees each responded by signing a thank-you note to send to Drew.
Police officials have said drug addiction has contributed to a spike in convenience store, bank and pharmacy robberies in recent years. It’s unfortunate, Drew said. Just last week, the Bangor Savings Bank on Park Street in Orono was forced to hand over money to a robber.
Drew hasn’t given flowers to other banks or stores in the area victimized by robbers, in part because he said he wouldn’t want to make the employees feel uncomfortable with a stranger coming in to leave a gift after a traumatic event. So far, he has brought the flowers to banks where he’s recognized.
“If someone else wants to start at those institutions, they can take my lead,” Drew said. “Who doesn’t like getting flowers?”