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Thousands rally around man with Asperger’s berated by Wegmans customer

Thousands of people have expressed support over social media for Chris Tuttle, a 28-year-old Wegmans employee with a form of autism, who was berated by a customer on Saturday for being too slow, Syracuse.com reported.

After the incident, Tuttle’s sister, Jamie Tuttle-Virkler, posted a message on her Facebook page recounting the incident.

“Yesterday at Wegmans, a customer yelled at him and then in the middle of her transaction, left to complain loudly to a manager, came back to his line and he was so shaken, dropped a candle she bought on the ground and it shattered.” Tuttle-Virkler posted. “Luckily the manager took him off register immediately because clearly he was upset. The customer's problem? Chris was checking her out...TOO SLOW and she was furious. She yelled at him, the manager and anyone else who would listen.”

Tuttle-Virkler noted in her post that her brother was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disability characterized by difficulties in social exchanges and repetitive patterns or behaviors. Tuttle-Virkler said that the incident really upset her brother.

“Part of Asperger's is the inability to move on, to not be able to wrap his mind around the fact that this woman isn't worth it,” Tuttle-Virkler wrote. “To hear him tell the story, your heart will break.”

Tuttle-Virkler then asked her Facebook friends for a favor. She requested that people comment on the post or reach out to Tuttle when they see him at Wegmans to let him know that they care about him.

“If he's ever put a smile on your heart, could you let him know?” she wrote.

As of November 13, the Facebook post had received nearly 132,000 likes and had been shared more than 20,000 times on the social media network.

The manager of the Wegmans in Clay, N.Y., where Tuttle works said that customers have been calling the store, asking for him, and even sending “Thank You” notes, according to Syracuse.com. On Monday, the store released a statement saying it was proud of the way their employees handled the incident.

Tuttle has been asked to join the C.A.R.E (Caring Appreciation and Recognizing Each Other) team at Wegmans, a group that organizes holiday and employee appreciation gatherings.  

"I love my job," Tuttle told Syracuse.com. "I'm overwhelmed by all the support and the love by the people I don't know and I know. I just want to say, ‘Thank you.’"

Click for more from Syracuse.com.