Humans are creatures of habit. They form routines and become comfortable in them. One of those routines for area folks the past 20-plus years has been stopping by Casey’s General Store in Platte City and picking up a donut and cup of coffee or a slice of pizza. And a big part of that routine was saying hello to Ron Stone, the store’s manager the past 22 years. It was hard to miss Stone if you stopped by Casey’s during the daytime shift that he normally worked. Ron is a big man and his lovable teddy bear demeanor made him a customer favorite. You talked, he listened and vice versa. About the only way you could miss Stone is if he was not there. Apparently, that is now the case. Stone was fired by Casey’s last week in a move that stunned not only Stone himself, but the Platte City area community that supports the store. “I got fired,” Stone told me this week. “They said they had a customer call in and say that I dropped a few F-bombs towards them. Of course, that’s totally false. Not only that, but they didn’t investigate it and talk to any of my employees. They came to the store Jan. 31, took me to the back office and told me to get my things and leave.” Now, before I go any further, let’s acknowledge this: Casey’s is a private company and they can hire and fire whomever they want. It’s their business and they can run it anyway they see fit. Of course, the community that supports retail businesses like Casey’s doesn’t have to like it and to say that folks who have been spending money at Casey’s for years are outraged at Stone’s firing would be an understatement. Debbie Kirkpatrick, a Platte City Alderman and a waitress at Roxanne’s Café in Platte City, said she will not be frequenting Casey’s in the future. “I’ve been going there for 19 years and I won’t be spending anymore money there,” she said. “This is a small town and people go to businesses like Casey’s because of the people that work there, not because of the name on the front of the building.” Kirkpatrick said she has heard dozens of customers in the café say the same thing. Area residents have vented their frustrations on social media as well. Following is a post made on Casey’s Facebook page, and is representative of many on the page and in e-mails sent to Casey’s corporate headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa with the same sentiments: “I will never spend another dime in any of your stores, after what you did to your manager at your Platte City, Mo. location. And I am one of many. “ Here is a post on Stone’s personal Facebook page from Platte City businessman Bill Brown: • “Ron Stone....a sincere, devoted employee at the Casey’s Store in Platte City, Mo. As customers, we are all sad to be witness, for such a decision by the management, at the corporate level. As local folks, we know what a mistake has been by Casey’s Corporation...unfortunate for all!!” Stone first began working for Casey’s in Hamilton 28 years ago. He spent time as an area supervisor and manager at the Casey’s store in Nashua before becoming the manager at the Platte City Casey’s 22 years ago. “I love Casey’s,” Stone said. “I’ve always enjoyed my job and have always been treated very well. But now, after this, even if they offered my job back to me, I don’t know how I would go back to work there. This has planted a bitter seed in me.” Stone said he also appreciated the Platte City area community. “I’m just overwhelmed at the support this wonderful community has shown me now and over the years,” he said. “I think of customers as family. They come in, we talk, they make me feel better and they leave feeling good, too. I have heard from many of them. Not only is this messing up my life, but I think it’s messing with theirs. This is their store and they want answers.” Lee Stubbs is owner/publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.