Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

A woman was screaming in the Home Depot parking lot.

She said that a man had attacked her and had taken her child from the back seat of her car.

As KGW-TV reports, Dillon Reagan and another Home Depot employee came out to help. They called 911.

Reagan said that they were told by the dispatcher to follow the man, but not to approach him and to wait for the police to arrive.

This they did. They gave their statements to police and then returned to the store in Portland, Oregon.

Reagan said they didn't get a hero's welcome. Indeed, in his case, he already had one strike against him for allegedly using abusive language to a co-worker.

Now, he was facing another piece of discipline for breaking the Home Depot safety rules.

And, yes, he was fired.

"It was still the right thing to do. I was kind of in a catch-22 situation. I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't," Reagan told KGW.

Could many people have stood by and done nothing, given the circumstances as Reagan understood them?

It transpired that the incident was a domestic dispute, rather than a stranger kidnapping a child. Still, Reagan was faced with a woman's distress and tried to help.

We've been here before with Home Depot.

Last December, the company fired four employees who helped catch a shoplifter. At the time, Home Depot insisted that only trained security employees should get involved in such a thing.

This time, however, it seems that the company has had second thoughts.

"We took a second look at this and have let Mr. Reagan know that we've decided to reverse our decision, based on the circumstances," a Home Depot spokesman told KGW. "We always do our diligence to make sure associates are treated fairly, which we've done in this case."

I contacted Home Depot to ask what had caused this apparent change of mind -- or even heart. A spokesman told me: "Our HR leadership wasn't aware of the termination at the time and they reversed the decision when they reviewed the circumstances."

Those of dry countenance might worry that negative publicity might have played a part too.

Reagan doesn't appear to be impressed. On his Facebook page, he posted a letter from the Oregon Employment Department saying that he hadn't violated the standards of behavior that an employer should expect from an employee.

He accompanied his posting with the words: "F*** you, Home Depot!"

KGW also asked him whether he'd go back to Home Depot. "Honestly, at this point no," he replied.

Rules are one thing. They often seem so clear. Their enforcement, however, can be much trickier.

Yet here, Reagan says he wasn't immediately fired. Rather, it took more than a month for the decision to be taken (the incident happened on May 12). He'd worked there for four years.

Some employers might have looked at Reagan's actions and found them commendable. After all, he says he and his fellow employee were only away from their store for 10 minutes.

"What's good and what's right supersedes what's policy and what's orders," Reagan told KGW.

Ah, if only the world really did work like that.