Mary Archer had been held up twice before at the Arby's restaurant in Fairborn, Ohio, where she was the manager on duty, her daughter said. She came away unscathed both times.
But after the third robbery attempt, last Friday, when a man with a knife entered the store and demanded the assistant manager turn over the restaurant's money, her boss fired her, according to CNN affiliate WHIO.
"I just never thought that this would happen to me, especially since my life was at stake," she said.
Archer was terminated for staying at the restaurant by herself, "long after hours," which is in violation of Arby's franchise security policy, said John Gray, Vice-President of Corporate Communications for Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc.
The store location where she worked is a franchise that is not corporate-owned, he said.
Archer was not injured in the attempted robbery, even though she got into an altercation with the knife-wielding intruder.
"I had pushed him away," she said, "because I'm like, I'm not going to die in Arby's tonight. I'm just not."
She screamed for help out of the drive-through window then jumped out of it to get away from the man, who fled. Someone heard Archer and called police.
Less than a day later, Archer signed a document her supervisor handed her, stating that she had violated security policy.
It was the end of her employment. January would have marked 23 years with the company, she said. She crumpled up the security notice out of frustration.
"She had been warned in the past and had received a written warning that if she did it again she would be terminated," Gray explained, saying that the policy was to preserve employee safety.
Archer said she was at the restaurant late because she was closing up shop. Then she heard someone at the door. It was the man with the knife.
"We have no alarms, no cameras," she said. "That should have been nipped in the bud that very first attempt."
Archer's daughter told WHIO that the store had been robbed three times in the past six months and that her mother had been on duty each time.
"I don't want my job back," Archer said.
She is happy to be alive.