Monday, August 10, 2009

A Simple Trip to Goodwill

Driving up to Goodwill's drop off door my mind was spinning wondering if the "hay guy" had called back, if I had enough powdered sugar to make frosting twice, where the nearest farmer's market was to get dill. Staring straight ahead I slowed, put the van in park and turned around to tell everyone to stay buckled, I would just grab the few donation bags myself. Quickly then I turned back to open the door when a young man, short for his age, was looking in and smiling and waving. He appeared happy to help me. He peered in the back windows and waved to the kids, as well. I stepped out, shaken up a bit. He had Down syndrome. Why was my heart pounding? Why did I suddenly feel guilty about him helping me with the bags? I greeted him, opened the trunk and started to reach for the bags. He piped in to ask if all three bags were for him. For him? He acted as if hauling my donation bags was the most important thing he would do all day. I agreed that yes all the bags were for him. He grabbed them, thanked me three or four times, smiled, placed the bags inside the door and then waved one more time from behind the small window. Lou gave him a great big wave and commented how nice he was compared to all the other Goodwill workers. I waved and drove away. Still my heart was pounding and I was thinking what's happening to me?

As I drove home I started thinking how I would have responded to this situation a year and a half ago, you know, before Little J came along. One thing's for sure, my heart wouldn't have been pounding like today and I probably would've been feeling a little sorry for him having to work at Goodwill collecting donations every day. I know I would've thought about his living arrangements. Did he live with his parents? In a group home? But once I'd driven away I wouldn't have had another thought about him. I'm not proud of my past response, but it's the honest truth. Now, fast forward to today. My pounding heart came from embarrassment about my close-mindedness of past years. That young man was confident, conscientious and positively friendly. I found myself filling up with motherly pride. He obviously loves his job and takes it very seriously, not something to be sorry for, but proud of, a wonderful role model. And I found myself fast forwarding Little J's life to days filled with work and friends and life. A life to be proud of.

At one point this morning I felt a little guilty for letting him help me with the bags. He's the one with the special need, shouldn't I be helping him? Obviously not, because he knew just what he was doing, helping me in more ways than one.


  1. oh you made me cry. thanks for sharing.

  2. An excellent reminder for all of your readers. Thank you.


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