It starts last September when I was still managing the shoe store. We were hiring and, as almost nobody was applying, I called literally every applicant I had so I could at least tell my boss (the owner of the company) I was doing my best to find somebody.
Well, I interviewed this kid. We'll call him E. Within two minutes I could see how socially awkward he was and knew that a retail environment would not be playing to his strong suits. Within five minutes, he mentioned he's on the autism spectrum and really good at numbers but not so good with people.
He was a good kid, but it wouldn't be a good fit for a fashion company, where rude (and often rich) women are snapping their fingers and waving shoes at you to go to their beck and call. Part of me wanted to protect him from that because I knew it would be way worse for him and I didn't want him to go through that. So, he did not get the job, but I hoped and prayed and offered some suggestions of places I thought he might do well at (including my then second, now fulltime job).
Fast forward to last week.
I was going home from work Saturday afternoon and decided to take the long way home so I could go by the ATM to deposit my check at the bank. Well, as I approached the ATM, I saw a random bike just on the stand in front of it.
No big deal, I thought, the owner was probably inside one of the stores surrounding it. When I got closer, I could see that not only were all the stores but the farthest one closed, but there was a wallet and bank card just laying on the ATM ledge.
I stopped walking and automatically went into fight mode. It was a perfect setup to jump somebody and a great location, because the ATM was right there if robbery was the goal.
A man got out of his car and walked over.
"Hi, sir, is this your bike?" I asked. I never, ever say 'sir' unless I think I need to make friends with you.
"No? I thought it was yours." He replied.
"Then we have a slight problem." I indicated the wallet and bank card and he stopped walking, looking just as confused as me. My gut said he was safe so I decided to trust that and him.
"Will you be my witness? I'd like to check through the wallet for a phone number or address so we can contact the owner, but I'm worried I might get accused of theft, with the way it's laying here." He told me.
Yes, I thought, he was definitely a trustworthy human. "I'll gladly be your witness." I told him.
After a couple minutes, he sighed. "The bad news is I can't find a phone number. The good news is that I found an ID so we have a name and an address." He showed me the picture and as soon as I saw the picture, we heard somebody screaming and loud footsteps running towards us.
"HEY THATS MY STUFF THATS MINE!!!"
I'm assuming you've already guessed that this was yelled by E.
My new bro dropped the wallet back on the ledge, probably out of fear of being accused of theft. "Hey, man, we were just trying to find a way to contact you. It's not a good idea to be leaving this stuff out here where anybody can see it." He said it a lot nicer than I probably could have managed, since I have a very bad case of bitch voice.
A new man walked up to join our little party. "What's going on here?" He asked. We probably looked a little weird. A red-faced, panicked kid leaning against his bike. A tall man in a business suit with a Rolex. And me, a grumpy looking woman who looks like she's 12, and I think I was holding some snacks.
My new business bro filled him in, as we all looked to E for an explanation.
"I was trying to deposit my first check, but I didn't know what the check looked like and I think I put in the wrong paper because now it's blinking red and jammed so I went into the store way over there to ask what to do." E said, handing me a piece of paper.
"This is most definitely a check. What did the paper look like? The one you put in the machine?" I asked, inwardly cursing because he had jammed the exact device I needed to have money.
"It had all the times I worked on it." He said.
"That must have been your pay stub." Said new guy.
Business bro stepped forward. "I'm sorry to be rude, but I'm late for a meeting. Does anyone mind if I use the ATM?"
"Well, I can't use it now. I broke it. I'll have to go to another bank and they won't fix this one until Monday. And the worst part is that they spelled my name wrong on my check." E said.
We all shared a glance and within a minute, business bro was back in his car and driving away. E got on his bike and started pedaling away in the other direction.
"Please, go ahead. You were here first." New guy bro told me.
"Thank you, but I can't now. I needed to deposit a check into my account." I told him, wondering exactly how much ramen I had in my pantry and if it would hold me over until after work on Monday.
New guy bro frowned. "Here, let me try to pull some cash out. Maybe it'll reset the machine somehow." He suggested.
It did not work, but I thanked him anyways before going home.
And all I could think was: Why wasn't E ever shown what a check was? He's far from stupid and he's now an adult man, with a job, who would probably like to live on his own like everyone else on the planet. Why wasn't he told how to deposit a check and shown what it looks like?
I was fucking pissed at whoever raised him. I'm still pretty pissed. They should be helping him but they clearly gendered him, when they didn't stop to teach him not to leave his wallet or bank card laying around or to not to him what a check is.
Positive thought of the day: I had my faith in humanity restorered by two people, who came together with other strangers to help another stranger. Nobody stole, lied, or otherwise tried to hurt each other. Our goal was common, to help this random kid out when he needed it.