I saw an Internet story about a sixty-eight year-old man who recently lost his job at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage for a crime he committed almost fifty years ago.
Back in 1963, Richard Eggers used a cardboard cutout of a dime in washing machine at a Laundromat. Apparently, he got caught and was convicted. The story I read said that Eggers called the escapade a ‘stupid stunt,’ and isn’t happy he got fired.
Making a long story a little shorter, the gist of the article reported that in May of 2011 and February of this year, new federal banking employment guidelines went into effect. The more stringent procedures were meant to weed out workers who were guilty of transactional crimes…identity theft, money laundering, breech of trust or dishonesty.
In the past, before the new regulations, banks construed federal rules to exclude misdemeanor crimes.
But what has happened in today’s environment is that financial institutions are afraid of penalties that might be levied by the FDIC. So, Richard Eggers was fired from his job over a fifty-year-old petty theft.
There is a waiver process that employee’s can follow to show they’re still suitable to work in a financial institution – however, one of the qualifications is that the applicant can never have spent a day in jail. Mr. Eggers served two days in jail and doesn’t qualify.
Mr. Eggers is learning a tough lesson.
It’s a lesson that parents everywhere should be telling their children. It’s a lesson that employers should be sharing with those they’ve hired. It’s a lesson for everyone. Let’s take a closer look.
Even back in 1963, a dime wasn’t a lot of money. You could buy a candy bar with a dime. If you had three dimes, you could get a gallon of gas. So, the fact Mr. Eggers tried to use a fake dime in a washing machine was a petty crime, even back then.
But, the lesson to be learned is that we don’t know what the future will hold. Who would have predicted the vast advances that have been made in technology where banking would be done from your own home? Or, in 1963 who would have believe it, if you’d said there would be machines where you’d stick a piece of plastic inside, you could get money in return? No one. No one could have predicted how society would handle their money today. No one could predict the huge issues the world is facing due to identity theft and the like.
But one thing that does remain constant is that everyone should follow the law. While I am empathetic to Mr. Egger’s plight, I’m not sympathetic. I don’t know what prompted him to stick a cardboard dime in a coin-operated washing machine, but whatever the circumstances, he was breaking the law. He knew what he was doing was wrong.
With that said, if I’d been the police officer to respond to that call back in 1963, I probably would have given him a stern lecture about right and wrong, and sent him on his way. I’d love to know the full story of the dime in the washing machine – my cynical mind tells me there was probably more to the story.
But, is it possible that those ‘common sense’ allowances made in those bygone years, helped to create an atmosphere where, people didn’t respect the law as much? Do you think that a teenager back in the early 1950′s who got caught shoplifting a dollar pair of sunglasses and then was only given a warning, might have figured nothing happened the first time, so why not try it again?
Today’s consumers are paying for those early ‘warnings’ given to thieves. Shoplifting is now an organized crime with crews of crooks going into stores and clearing merchandise completely off the shelves. In the 1970′s and 1980′s many stores started prosecuting shoplifters because the merchants were losing too much money. But although great strides have been made, the shoplifting genie is out of the bottle, and retailers are struggling to put it back. But I digress…
The bottom line is this: There is no way to predict how your actions today might affect you down the line. Look at people who lose their jobs over pictures posted on Facebook or other social media.
The best course of action is to do the right thing and don’t intentionally do something you know is wrong or risky behavior…because the ‘dime’ cost of a reckless action might balloon into a million-dollar blunder fifty years from now.
Until next time,