Hero Gets Fired

WICHITA, Kan. — Heather Ravenstein tried to save Wal-Mart some money Friday by foiling a shoplifter’s plan to steal a $600 computer, but it cost her her job.

“I’m a single mom, and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Ravenstein, who is 30.

She’s worked at the West Kellogg Wal-Mart for almost two years, most recently as a customer service manager.

Friday night around 10:20, she was standing near some registers when she saw a man with a computer coming up the main walkway of the store.

“Action Alley is what they call it,” she says.

“He was walking rather fast, so it caught my eye.”

Ravenstein says the man kept walking and set off an alarm. She went after him.

“Let me see your receipt, and then I’ll take this off for you,” she told the man, referring to a sensor on the computer.

Ravenstein says the man refused and kicked her.

“And then he punched me in my shoulder, and then he finally gave up and just let go of the computer.”

Ravenstein walked back into the store and sat on the floor.

“I was shaking pretty bad,” she says.

Assistant store managers immediately checked on her.

“They all came out and made sure I was OK,” Ravenstein says. “They thanked me.”

The next day, about two hours before her shift was over, Ravenstein says an assistant manager asked to speak with her. He then told her it’s against Wal-Mart policy for anyone but a manager or someone in asset protection to try and stop a customer from stealing.

“He said there’s really no gray area,” Ravenstein says. “It just goes straight to termination.”

She was told to turn in her badges and keys.

“I was in shock at first,” Ravenstein says. “I didn’t think anything like this would happen.”

Nor did she know about the policy, Ravenstein says.

“I’ve never heard of it.”

She says she’s stopped people for forging payroll checks on more than one occasion.

“They never once said, ‘You’re not supposed to be doing that.’ ”

Do you know what your work policy is concerning the application of force? You should.

I’m a school teacher, and so is my brother. He worked at a school that had a strict “hands off” policy if teachers saw students fighting. If you intervened to stop a fight at that school, you got fired.

The other questions is, “Is stopping a fight (or a theft) worth it?” At my school in Fresno I broke up fights, not as some kind of Rambo action junkie, but just to restore order on campus and to keep students from hurting each other.

One day I broke up a fight between to kids and when I went inside the classroom, I felt something in my nose. What was disturbing was that I didn’t know what it was. Did I get brushed by a shoulder? Did I receive a punch that just barely clipped my nose, or fell just short of clocking me? As I thought about it, I realized I could have been blasted by one of the punches thrown wildly.

Now I had to step back and think. Was I being paid to break up fights? No. Had I been asked to break up fights? No. Had anyone ever even thanked me for putting my butt on the line? No. Had I been treated with respect by the administration, for whom I was doing their dirty work? No.

At that point I made a decision that I would not intervene in future fights, unless I saw a student being victimized.

The woman at Wal-Mart not only lost her job, but could have been hurt seriously. What was her training? Where was her semi-impromptu weapon that she had stashed? How many weapons are there at Wal-Mart that she could have secreted at her work station?

Tomorrow I will talk about the downside of being a hero.


3 Responses to “Hero Gets Fired”

  1. Old Dave Says:

    Here’s a hero story from Montana, and the teenage hero used a metal baseball bat!


    The teenager is definitely a hero, but the neighbor who shot and killed the dog may have a problem…even though the rest of the neighborhood was probably grateful?

  2. jimmyfatwing Says:


  3. There really is no grey area…the thief is ALLOWED to come in and steal again and the students are ALLOWED to fight when they want…there really is no grey area.

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