My son got a seasonal job at Target for the holidays this year. It was a big deal for him (and me!). As he always does, he explained his autism to the hiring staff and highlighted his own strengths and weaknesses. They gave him a position in the Logistics (online shipping) department. The perfect position for him because he can work independently and systematically, with minimal interaction with people. He rocked it! Because of how his brain processes information, he quickly had the layout of the store memorized and impressed the managers with his speed in fulfilling the orders.
He did so well that they decided to keep him on after the holidays. The problem — no position available in that department so they offered him a cart attendant position. I immediately knew that this would be challenging for him, but said nothing and hoped he would be as happy. On his second day in his new position, he started sending me texts. He was upset. The reason: people were being impatient with him as he would round up the carts in the parking lot because they had to wait to go around him.
It made him feel awful, he said, because he wants to do a good job and is trying so hard. And this job of rounding up carts in the parking lot in the rain that seems so inconvenient, trivial, and meaningless to the rest of us means the world to him. My inner mama bear was roaring inside and plotting how I could stake out in the parking lot and go after anyone who is making him feel like he isn’t moving fast enough for them.
But, like you say, it was a reminder to me also. A reminder of all the times I have been frustrated in the checkout line or the drive-thru and didn’t stop to think of the person who is doing their job and doing it the best that they can. My time is no more important than anyone else’s and while my life might go on without my Nitro Cold Brew, the person’s life who is making it might very well depend on it so maybe taking a breath and letting them take their time to make it isn’t such a big deal.
Thanks for writing this, especially this paragraph. You are so right that we never know what people are dealing with and we say it all the time. But, sometimes, we forget. Thanks for the reminder.