Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Jared was ill today, so I came home from work to take care of him, and after the clean-up and after preaching to him that "the garbage pail is your friend" especially when the bathroom is just out of reach, and after setting him up with some peppermint tea, I called the manager at his job to say that Jared was under the weather and that work would not be possible tonight. His manager, who is so nice and who always has time for Jared, told me that he was glad I called, that Great Northern Pizza Kitchen in Fayetteville will be closing its doors on Monday because it can't pay its bills, and that he had been trying to think of a way to tell Jared. You see, for the past 2 years, part of Jared has been defined by the fact that he has a paying job, that he has responsibilities and coworkers and taxes to file and earned money to spend. I loved that his SSI was adjusted each month because he was collecting that paycheck.It wasn't just a job, it was a symbol of pride for both Jared and for me too. I liked telling people that Jared, my son with Down Syndrome had a job that he went to week after week, a job where he was the longest running employee. I always felt that we kind of "made it" that Jared was doing grown-up work where he made customers and staff smile, where he contributed. A manager once said that having Jared as work made everyone just a little bit happier.  I asked Jared's present manager what his plans were, and he said should be fine, that he has some leads. He gave me his information, said he would always be a reference for Jared.  I'm wondering what Jared's "leads" are. I know he would have to quit the job eventually when he goes away for school, but I wonder if there will ever be another chance, another manager who understands that my son will work slowly, but that his work will be meticulous. I wonder if there will ever be another manager who will have patience for Jared when he asks the time again because 7:30 looks different on different clocks, and that 7:30 the time his mom or John comes and gets him. I wonder if there will ever be a boss that gets it when Jared gets a little confused about the evening's job list, who will sit with Jared at the beginning of a shift just to review some expectations. I wonder this because I don't see a lot of people with Down Syndrome working in restaurants, or schools, or stores.  He was good at what he did. He was really good. That guy can fold a pizza box faster than most, I think.  I tell him now that he has more time to devote to Special Olympics to prepare for college, where I hope he hones those skills that workplaces require.
And to the bosses out there: I'd like to ask you to think about hiring people with disabilities, people who may learn or work slower than others, people who may require that things be explained a couple of times,  but I guarantee you they will be your most loyal employees. They will always go to work, unless they are sick; they will always try their very best; and they will always make the customers and staff just a little bit happier. I know this because that is exactly what my son, who happens to have Down Syndrome did for almost 3 years.

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