Alright, not to beat this wonderful magical Target horse to death, but I finally got a chance to speak with the Target store directly about the cashier. If you're not familiar with the story already, it's here: The Target Post
When I originally wrote a post on Target's Facebook wall, I had no idea the sort of attention it would receive, but once I realized it, I probably should have made it more of a priority to talk directly to the store. Last night, I resolved to get them, at the very least, on the phone. I was too late. This morning, eight days after the wall post, I spoke to the store manager.
Having never experienced this sort of viral interest in something I've said or written, I wasn't properly prepared for it. What I learned from it was probably something that I should have already known; that when you post something for public scrutiny... the public will scrutinize it. Hard.
There are things I would have done differently, there are specifics I would have left out. There are rumors that I would have investigated prior to dismissing. Looking back, I know my heart was in the right place, but once the shit hit the fan, I probably should have reacted more quickly.
Right... I know... the store manager... I'm getting to that. First, my apologies:
1. I am sorry that I so cavalierly dismissed the notion that Target was anti-gay. While hundreds of comments addressed this so thoroughly that I can't do them more justice, Target's CEO contributed to the campaign of a very anti-gay MN gubernatorial candidate.
A post was written about it here: Target Homophobia?
Their rationale was that he was pro-business, but when you back someone like that, you have to know that you're backing ALL of him, not just the pro-business part. When you give hundreds of thousands of dollars to support a candidate, you probably should have made your peace with his whole platform. Because people will find out.
I've seen references to things Target corporate has done since to attempt to repair the damage they did to their relationship with the LGBT community, but it's really not my fight. As I've tried to make clear, I'm not a Target corporate apologist -- I just liked that the store hired a guy with autism. The point is, I shouldn't have dismissed it without checking it out. As one reader pointed out, had it been my daughter and an anti-special needs contribution, would I have just assumed it was a myth, or would I have gone out and investigated it? I know the answer to that.
Right... I know... the store manager. One more thing:
2. I am even more sorry that I potentially outed or exposed the cashier without knowing whether he was comfortable with that sort of exposure or that acknowledgement. While I still believe what makes the story great is that he is an autistic (please let's not argue person first about this. Please!) adult working (in an atmosphere where so many people regardless of diagnosis are unemployed) and doing a fantastic job. When Huffington Post ran the re-post from my blog, they removed references to the city and the description of the cashier. I should have done the same thing on my own blog post right at that moment. Prior to that, I hadn't even considered the ramifications... but when they spiked it out in the edits... I should have done the math. I have since done the same with my original post. Of all the people who should be more sensitive to the social (or not so social) nature of autism, I should have been more aware that the enormous public scrutiny might be highly unwelcome.
So I finally spoke to the store manager. I complimented the cashier. I explained my concerns. And she told me this:
He's doing great. His autism was not a secret. They told him about the story, specifically that he'd been recognized by a customer for great service (I don't know what else he was told about it). He was then recognized at a team meeting for his excellent work and given a "team card" (I have no idea what that is) and something else. I don't know what that "something else" was, she said, but I'd already said "what" about a hundred times at that point, attempting to confirm bits and pieces of the overall puzzle while we talked so I just felt sorta warm and fuzzy that he'd gotten something out of the deal. She said he's an asset to the store. She said he does so many things for them, not just cashiering, and that he has a great work ethic.
I told her I was concerned that he might be uncomfortable with the extra attention and she told me that she'd talk to HR to make sure, but that he seemed happy and hadn't come to her with any complaints.
All's well that ends well? Maybe, with the caveat that I hope I learned my lesson moving forward. I hope that's the end of it. I hope that it's all positive and not negative, but I'm a realist. Still, all things considered, this seems like it's been a good experience for everyone who isn't pissed off about how bad the post jacked up their Facebook newsfeed for the past week.