One bank's strict policy angered the dickens out of folks for this Christmas Carol's bitter ending.
Emily James, who worked as a senior banker at a US Bank call center in Portland, was fired for giving $20 of her own pocket money to a struggling customer before Christmas.
According to Oregon Live, Marc Eugenio was stranded at a gas station and was strapped for cash after a $1,000 paycheck from his new job had been placed on hold.
US Bank fires employee for a random act of kindness. New entry on my boycott list! https://t.co/XC7fPhtRkV— Kalani Koa (@Kalani Koa)1579298321.0
Fortunately, reaching James at the call center proved to be Christmas miracle.
She briefly left her shift to personally hand him the cash he needed.
You can watch the KOIN 6 news clip, below.
When Eugenio initially contacted James, she instructed him to visit his local bank branch in Clackamas on Christmas Eve so that a bank manager could verify the funds from the issuing bank.
However, the bank manager was on vacation.
With the bank closing early for the holidays, there was nobody else at the branch with the authority available to lift the hold on his check.
After finding himself stranded at a gas station with no available funds in his bank account, a frustrated Eugenio managed to reach James again at the 800 number.
He recalled their conversation.
"I said, 'I wish I had just $20 bucks to get home.' And she said 'Wait, hold on.'"
Coincidentally, James, who handles calls from across the country, happened to be just a few miles away from the gas station where Eugenio was left high and dry.
She told him to stay at the location and informed him she would be there in 30 minutes.
"I didn't want her to do it. But I'm not proud to the point that I'm going to refuse help."
James said she got approval from her supervisor and drove the 14 mile distance to the 76 gas station at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Sunnyside Road.
"I handed him $20 in cash, said 'Merry Christmas' and went right back to work."
Eugenio was genuinely surprised.
"It was like, 'Wow, she really cares.' Most supervisors, maybe they would have tried, but nobody would have ever come out because I was stranded."
"She had a big heart. She believed what I was saying."
James returned to finish the rest of her shift that day and again on December 30.
That should have been the end of story, with 2019 wrapping up nicely with a ribbon.
Unfortunately, her altruistic act came back to haunt her at the start of the new year.
When she arrived for her shift on New Year's Eve, the regional service manager was present and informed James she had been let go due to her "unauthorized interaction with a customer."
@Oregonian Wow. Some companies would highlight this as showing an employee going above and beyond. I.e… https://t.co/eRvZ0RcjTO— Paul Frazier (@Paul Frazier)1579206114.0
It is really sad that a large bank like @usbank can act like scrooge during Christmas Eve and fire an employee for… https://t.co/uJlAluXH69— Duane Th3R0ck Johnson (@Duane Th3R0ck Johnson)1579391198.0
@FOX13News A holes get rewarded and kind deeds get you fired. Why do we CHOOSE to live in a world like this— Joe 🇵🇷⚾️🥎🏈🥊🏋🏼♀️🎱 (@Joe 🇵🇷⚾️🥎🏈🥊🏋🏼♀️🎱)1579312121.0
"They were worried about my safety. He could have kidnapped me or shot me. But I wouldn't have left or even tried to ask if that was OK if I thought that this person would hurt me."
Oregon Live was unable to receive official confirmation, but James' supervisor who approved her break from the shift that day was also allegedly fired.
@Oregonian That’s why you don’t ask for permission! Just do the act of kindness quietly— Jose.V (@Jose.V)1579206413.0
@Oregonian That is wrong.....note action in file of breaking rule but her immediate supervisor approved her action.… https://t.co/dwohKYTO96— Silver Sneekers (@Silver Sneekers)1579206153.0
Why the banks are actually in trouble: One of the country’s largest banks fired a call center employee for doing w… https://t.co/Bxd3uOCBe9— Ryan Falvey (@Ryan Falvey)1579385677.0
A spokesperson for US Bank issued a statement explaining that the company has strict policies and procedures to protect both employees and customers.
"Ms. James was terminated following an internal investigation into her interactions with a customer."
"During this review it was determined Ms. James did not use the available solutions to remedy the customer's situation and instead put herself and the bank at risk with her actions."
@Oregonian Yeah I wouldn't want to work for @usbank after that, and if I had an account with them I'd be pretty tem… https://t.co/cmioLnk9Ru— The Manic Geek (@The Manic Geek)1579207379.0
@Oregonian As a life long banker, there are so many things wrong with the way @usbank employees treated this custom… https://t.co/BSrBknf04z— BCoggs (@BCoggs)1579396792.0
@Oregonian I’m a proud retired employee of U.S. Bank. I can tell you lots of stories of good things the bank and it… https://t.co/j5YqRhiBjD— Peter Milliron (@Peter Milliron)1579207514.0
James was baffled, adding:
"I just don't understand why you wouldn't help someone if you had the ability to."
"It's Christmas Eve, it's already a rough time for people, and you're going to leave someone stranded?"
"I couldn't in good conscience do that, knowing it was something I could fix, or at least get him home."
"Had I known then that I was going to be let go, I would have just removed the hold on the check, because that absolutely would have gotten me fired."
@Oregonian This is insane. I’m shocked really. @usbank— Janice Ordal (@Janice Ordal)1579206998.0
#US_Bank apparently has fired employee who gave struggling bank client $20 out of her pocket. Never shall I do busi… https://t.co/ZyGxi0Qv8W— Carlos MJ Clavijo Jr (@Carlos MJ Clavijo Jr)1579374789.0
Because Eugenio's check did not clear until several days after Christmas, his kids—ages 9 and 13—were given IOUs in lieu of presents to unwrap.
He said it was one of the saddest Christmases and was appalled about James losing her job.
"Promissory notes for Christmas gifts. And I can't believe (James) lost her job over it. The only one who seemed to care was Emily, and she got fired for that."
"I was a customer of U.S. Bank, I needed help, and she went above and beyond."
"I felt so bad. She was the only one helping me."
@Oregonian The only honest conclusion I can give is don’t bank there if you never have and tell anyone who is they… https://t.co/zynjcssyBF— Joseph Lemanski (@Joseph Lemanski)1579313119.0
@Oregonian @usbank it’s not like, in Americana, we have a story of a revered character who did the very same thing… https://t.co/UFzhhs2DX3— Geoffrey Hearn (@Geoffrey Hearn)1579407778.0
@KOINNews US Bank is turning really bad. Closing neighborhood branches in favor of IT doing jobs that should go to… https://t.co/guQ0bvONf2— Michelle (@Michelle)1579246968.0
James has no plans to get her job back and has no regrets for her act of goodwill on Christmas Eve.
"I can't change the world but I can change the world for that one person."
"I would rather my morals align with someone who's more willing to support someone like that than someone who's willing to throw away two-and-a-half years and a lot of dedication."