I have been planning on doing a reoccurring post called “Handi-Star”. These posts will feature celebrity and non-celebrity “superstars” who have disabilities. I originally had planned to feature Jim Abbott, a professional baseball player, who was born with one arm. I thought the beginning of the 2016 baseball season would be perfect timing to launch this new post. However, today a story about Frank Swanson was brought to my attention. I felt this story was more urgent because of a planned protest this Saturday in support of Frank Swanson.
Frank Swanson is a gentle man from West Plains, MO. We probably would have never heard of him until he was fired from his cashiers job at Walmart. After the community discovered he was terminated, they rallied around him. Frank stated that he was fired for “inappropriate hugging” and for price matching without a competitors circular ad. Walmart claims he let a customer walk away without paying for their groceries.
What makes Frank a “Handi-Star”? When Frank was in eighth grade, he fell out of the back of a truck. He was in a coma for a period of time and was left partially paralyzed on his right side and brain damaged. He still managed to graduate with his eighth grade class and as an adult began working for Walmart. In fact, at the time of his firing he was 3 weeks shy of being a 20 year employee. This alone makes him extraordinary.
Frank was not only a faithful and loyal employee to Walmart, he was faithful and loyal to his customers. Frank’s brother states that Frank “doesn’t have a mean bone in his body” He also says that Frank’s purpose in life is to “make other people feel good about (themselves) and to bring a smile to their face”. Frank feels that the elder population does not get enough hugs, so he likes to make sure they feel special and spreads hugs to his customers. Frank has even gone as far as covering the tab out of his own wallet, when his customers do not have enough money.
Frank’s situation went viral. There is a protest this Saturday at the Walmart he was fired from. There will be t-shirts and hugs! There is even a facebook page dedicated to Frank’s situation. The link is https://www.facebook.com/events/253979121617035/. Radio and TV news stations have also picked up this story.
I have to be fair and also provide Walmart’s side. They deny Frank was fired for hugging customers or for a 50 cent discount on tea. They claim he allowed a customer to walk out without paying for their groceries. Here is there response to the situation “Letting an associate go is never easy. It is important to note that we have a progressive discipline policy where performance issues move and associate to the next step. For this associate, point-of-sale policies had not been followed in some instances. A recent violation of those policies moved the associate to the final step of our discipline process, resulting in his dismissal.” This Walmart location also has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Walmart15/
I have to say that I believe Frank. In one story I read, Frank stated that he took the time to memorize competitor ads to better serve customers who forgot to bring the ad. He has been on the job for 20 years and I believe Frank’s number one goal is to make his customers happy. Frank has taken his own money to pay for customers groceries, it is hard to believe he would now “steal” from his employer. I am pretty good at spotting liars and after watching Frank’s interviews I believe he is telling the truth. On the other hand, Walmart’s main motivation is money and profit. I think it can not be overlooked that Frank was only 3 weeks away from 20 years of employment and retirement money. This is not the first time Walmart has been in the news for mistreatment of an employee.
In conclusion, sometimes superstars are not rich and famous. Sometimes superstars are regular people who do extraordinary things like spread love and happiness. Walmart has forgotten the “people” part of customer service. Please go on the “Hugs for Frank” facebook page and click like to show your support for this “Handi-Star”!