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Ex-Walmart worker happy where she is

01/06/2011 12:00 AM

01/06/2011 5:51 AM

Sometimes getting fired can be a good thing.

Just ask Heather Ravenstein, the Walmart worker who lost her job at the West Kellogg Walmart last May after she violated company policy and foiled a shoplifter.

First, she continues to receive mostly positive attention for what she did.

On Wednesday, the online CBS Interactive Business Network named Walmart's firing of Ravenstein No. 1 on its list of Business Blunders of the Year.

"Stop, thief! Um... on second thought, never mind," read the headline.

"It made No. 1?" Ravenstein said. "Holy cow."

More importantly, though, Ravenstein is on the path to following her dream of becoming a nurse.

She became a certified nurse assistant and is working at the Haysville Health Care Center.

"I love it," Ravenstein said. "It has its bad days, but every place does."

She particularly loves helping people.

"Sometimes it's being there in their last moments," Ravenstein said. "You get attached to them."

When her 5-year-old son, TJ, goes to kindergarten this fall, Ravenstein says she will start nursing school.

Thanks to the CBS report, there was renewed interest Wednesday in Ravenstein's story on Kansas.com, where it was the most-read story all day.

A couple of new offers of help came, too. For instance, the Urban League of Kansas wants to help Ravenstein become a nurse.

Ravenstein said a number of people stepped up to help her, although a few who said they would did not come through, such as one politician who preferred to remain anonymous.

She even has ventured back to Walmart.

"I don't shop there as much as I used to, but I do still shop there on occasion," Ravenstein said. "Actually, I still talk to the management that was there when I was fired. They're still nice to me, and they still talk to me."

Ravenstein also has thought about the actions she took that got her fired. She says she had been told once not to stop shoplifters, but she said all she did was ask for a receipt when someone leaving with a $600 computer set off an alarm.

"I probably wouldn't have done things the way that I did," she said. "It happened so fast. I just did what I thought was right.

"We always think of things the way we should have done it — not the way we did it."

Though she may have changed her actions, Ravenstein said she has no regrets.

"I wouldn't be where I'm at right now with the good job that I love without taking that risk."

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com


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