Chris Tuttle, a grocery store worker with Asperger's syndrome, was reportedly yelled at by a customer for ringing up her purchases too slowly Saturday night. But supporters of Tuttle got in the last word -- and then some.
Thousands have to come to the defense of Tuttle, 28, after his older sister, Jamie Tuttle-Virkler, posted an account on Facebook of what happened at the Wegmans supermarket in Clay, N.Y.
With the checkout lines growing longer, Tuttle, a 7-year employee, was removed from his usual maintenance duties to help out on the register, according to the retelling. A woman screamed at him for taking too long and left in the middle of the transaction to complain publicly to a manager, his sister wrote. When the customer returned to Tuttle's line, he was so rattled that he dropped and broke a candle she had purchased. A manager took him off the register immediately and explained Tuttle's situation to the customer, but the emotional damage was done.(Story continues below.)
Tuttle was so shaken by the incident that he was not able to let go of it, so his sister asked Facebook visitors to give him a "shout out" and let him know he is appreciated.
"Chris deserves better and if he's ever put a smile on your heart, could you let him know?" his sister wrote. "Could you leave a comment or the next time you go to Wegmans, could you tell him? I want him to have a better day."
More than 15,000 commenters from around the world had answered Virkler's request by Tuesday afternoon, encouraging Tuttle to stay kind, keep working hard and to ignore rudeness.
One Facebook visitor put it succinctly: "Chris, you are AMAZING! She was just mean!"
Tuttle told the Syracuse Post-Standard in an interview (video above) that he has been approached by strangers with words of admiration; one woman even brought a card to the store that read, "Thank you for smiling all the time."
As for the store patron who made his life miserable, Tuttle said he still managed to utter a "Have a nice day" with a smile. "You have to kill 'em with kindness," he said.
People with Asperger's, a developmental disorder, can have trouble with coordination and communication.