Every day for 20 years, Daniel Ockenhouse went to work at a Pennsylvania Walmart, never missing a shift. He was considered one of the store’s friendliest employees, but there was something else going on while he was on the job that got him kicked to the curb when his boss saw it.
After two decades of dedicated employment with the big box retailer, Ockenhouse is out of a job, and there doesn’t seem to be too much he can do about it. Regular customers who have shopped at the East Stroudsburg store cannot ignore the recent void at the door, after years of being greeted by this guy. The reason for it has a community outraged, protesting in the parking lot and demanding that the manager gives him his position back.
Ockenhouse made the two-mile trek to work every day, rain or shine, in his motorized wheelchair. Nothing could stop him from a position that he took far more seriously than most — greeting customers at the door. “I remember … he came in just covered in snow,” former employee Henry Schecker said, according to WHIO. “He went right to work like it was nothing.”
On days when the weather was particularly bad, he would even sleep in the store so he didn’t risk being late for his shift the next day since his only transportation was his wheelchair. His effort was greatly appreciated until his handicap became a problem for his boss.
Walmart decided to make some changes to several store positions, including Ockenhouse’s role as the greeter. The responsibilities of the welcomer increased, along with the title, which is now referred to as a “customer host,” and with it, they’re required to help with returns and checking receipts. Ockenhouse is fully capable of these tasks but doesn’t meet the added requirement of being able to lift 50 pounds because of his disability, WBREreported.
Ockenhouse was forced to take a severance package and abandon his post at the door since there were no other positions that fit his needs in that store or others in the area. However, he didn’t want the one-time payout. Instead, it’s his pride in working and the personal fulfillment he gets from it that he’d rather have. Walmart has been this man’s life for years and the one thing he has to look forward to. Now, he has been stripped of the opportunity for not being able to lift 50-pounds, which it’s doubtful he’d actually ever have to do.
If someone were to come in with a return that weighed more than he could handle, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Ockenhouse to follow the customer to the counter to help with the return, which is actually completed by customer service, not the new “customer host.” The greeter simply looks at the receipt and tells them where to go, which this man can do, but ridiculous semantics have cost him his simple joy in life and the store an extremely reliable employee that’s rare to find anymore.
Even if this Walmart ever does come to their senses, Ockenhouse should take his awesome work ethic and attitude and bless another business with it. Stores need more people like him and less entitled employees who couldn’t care less about customers.