March 28, 2006

Special Guy

Since long before I moved to this city, there's been a little corner gas station near where I now live. It's a simple little place - four pumps on each side of a little tiny building where you'd pay for your gas, all under a big, giant canopy. They had a few snacks, smokes, drinks...kind of a mom & pop type operation.

This little place is on the direct route between our house and the D-man's preschool. He likes to stop there in the mornings some times and grab a granola bar or something instead of having breakfast at home, so we've been stopping there fairly often for a couple of years.

There is a fellow who worked at this place whom I guess you would call "special." I don't know if he's retarded or just slow, or if he's had a medical can just tell that he isn't your run of the mill gas station clerk. He talks a little slowly and muddled, and his mannerisms are different letting you know that he isn't exactly what most would call "normal" (though being labeled as normal tends to make me cringe). He is, on the other hand, a friendly and efficient guy and obviously cares about his job and the way the place was run. I've seen him walking to work many times, and he always acts as if he's anxious to get there.

I could always tell by the way he interacted when checking you out that he lacked self confidence...he was a bit hesitant to make chit-chat, avoided eye contact and the like. He gave me the feeling that he was afraid someone would make fun of him if he said much. He always had a smile for the d-man, though.

I started going out of my way to make sure we had him check us out, to be extra nice to him, to let him know that I'm glad to see him, wish him a nice day, you know - letting him know that I think he's a good guy and that he's appreciated. He has responded very positively, and soon I noticed him smiling and talking to more customers, showing more self-confidence. I'd like to think I had a little part in that. day, fairly abruptly it seemed, the station closed. They were building a brand new station across the street, and a sign went up announcing that this would be their new location. The new store was big, bright and shiny, with all of the "convenience store" amenities you could imagine. They opened about 2 weeks after the old one closed and had obviously hired a good sized batch of new employees. I didn't see my buddy anywhere. I was worried that, with the switchover, they had let him go.

Well, the other day we stopped there at our usual time for a bit of breakfast. I was milling around, waiting for the D-man to make up his mind about what he wanted (SO many more choices!) and my buddy came out of the back room! I was so happy to see him I nearly gave him a hug. He gave me a huge grin and I told him that I was happy to see that he was still working there. He said that he restocks shelves and cups & such. I'm so glad that they kept him on. We shared a bit of an awkward grin for a moment and then he bustled off to get his work done. When we left the store, I noticed that he was still grinning as he filled up the chips.

I admire the owners of this store for keeping him on. I don't know if he might be family or what, but it's just great that they didn't use the switch as an excuse to dump him. It's important to everyone, but especially to people like him to feel valued and to know that they are needed and appreciated. It's easy to make fun of these people and cast them aside, forgetting that they have feelings, too, and not thinking about the fact that they can make a positive contribution to our society. Every time I go there, I always peek around the back room door to see if he's there so I can give him a smile. I hope it brightens his day as it sure helps mine start out nicely.


  1. That's a great story. I'm also glad they kept him on. And I bet he's one of the most reliable, hardest working, and most consciencious workers they have.

  2. That was really cool. Having 4 deaf sisters, all younger than me, I always felt I had to especially watch out for them. They are totally productive in the workplace and have good families and lives.

  3. Ah sweetie.
    I loved this story.
    I know what a gentle sweet heart you have. Mostly we see your humor here but I love seeing your humanity too. Some people have probably barely noticed him. I'm not surprised that you went out of your way to let him know he is appreciated. That's just like you.

    You're a wonderful person Celti.
    I love you dearly.

    Come see me crosses Celti Lass!
    Let's play!

  4. Celti girl that is an awesome lesson for all of us.

  5. You are so right here. This world we live in nowadays is way way too fast... No one notices anything of importance anymore. Sure they notice if there is a complaint to be made... it's nice to hear nice and positive things once in awhile... or maybe a lot. ;)

  6. That reminds me of one of the employees at a local grocery store. He has a horrible stammer and he may have Turretts, I'm not sure, but he's always friendly and I try to acknowledge him since I've heard others make fun of him. I'd rather him be there working instead of bumming around.

    Good on ya girl!

  7. I've worked with guys like that in my sordid career history, and what I have noticed is, as long as there is someone there to keep an eye on him, you won't ever find a harder worker, and most of the time, customers will respond well to him. The jerks will always be jerks and make fun of him, but there will always be a few (usually young, pretty girls like yourself :P) who will make sure he feels welcome and appreciated.

  8. If only we could get the rest of the world to open up their hearts a little as well, what a world we would have. Instead we fear those that are different despite the fact that they can't ahrm us. Good for you and good for them.

  9. Vince - I bet he is, too. thanks

    Vickie - that's awesome!

    Tricia - aw, shucks. love you too, sweetie.

    Jenn - thanks

    Denny - more people need to stop and smell the roses...and smile at people. I vote for a LOT. :D

    Nanner - so nice. You're that kind of person. thanks

    Mike - you're so right. thanks

    Pete - no kidding! What an improvement something that simple could make.

  10. There's this thing in the UK called "Care in the Community." It's a philosophy of getting people out of institutional situations and into the general population.

    Yeah, it's idealistic, so course it's really unpopular. People want the mentals, retards, chinslappers and psychos locking the fuck up and away. Ya see, it's pretty hard to actually find care in the community these days - at least, care beyond the house you live in, the car you drive or the clothes you wear.

    Pretty obvious that you care Celti. Bless ya. :)

  11. Owl - that sounds like a great program if only they could find a way for people to embrace it. I do have to admit, though, that "chinslappers" made me giggle. Interesting terminology. ;p

    People today are so self centered it's sickening. It's hard not to fall into that, though. I do care. :) Thanks, sweet Owl.