Among them is Richie, a security officer who has worked at the bank since 2002 and lived in Forest Hills for 49 years. He used to own a camera shop on Continental Avenue and served as president of the Forest Hills Lions Club, vice president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown.
He comes from a family of West Point graduates.
“Some go back to school and others get transferred or retire, but our relationships are very solid,” he says of his fellow bank employees. “This is an extended family, where we all look after each other.”
When Richie was a small child, he learned he had a unique talent.
“As soon as I went to school and started to learn to write, I found that I wrote from left to right, but then I wondered why can’t I write from right to left,” he said. “I took the pen in my hand and was able to write backwards very easily.”
The teacher then removed the pen from his left hand and placed it in his right hand.
“I thought, ‘let me try writing forward and backwards at the same time, and I did it with no problem,” he said. “Teachers got a little panicky and called up my parents. They took me to a doctor who examined my brain.”
Richie learned that he had a rare ability to control both the left and right sides of his brain.
“I could do it as well as Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote all his notes backwards since he was afraid people would steal them,” he added. “To get my teacher’s goat, I would write all my assignments backwards. I would tell them, ‘turn it over, hold it up to the light or put it front of a mirror and you can read it.’”
Some have urged Richie to go on the television show “America’s Got Talent.”
“I don’t rush into things and I still have time to decide, but I am not a glory seeker,” he said. “Kids come up to me and I’ll write backwards, and they’ll be fascinated. Everyone looks at it with astonishment.”
Richie said he is not aware of his talent’s value, he just does it for kicks.
“It is more of a conversation piece,” he said. “So far, I haven’t met anyone who can do it. I never practiced, it just came naturally.”
He occasionally demonstrates his rare talent at the bank, which is a staple in the community.
“It’s not to better the bank, but to better the community,” Richie said. “Manager Nancy Adzemovic and assistant manager Yarisa Baez have accomplished a lot. We all work together and we’re like one big family.”