| Tampa Photographer |
First thing guys, I’m writing this on the plane. ON.THE.PLANE! I haven’t flown in a little while and didn’t know some planes have Wi-Fi now!! I feel so fancy…writing a blog post 35,000 ft up in the air! Then I look at my yoga pants …Fancy. Felling. Gone. Second of all, this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written… I write like I speak, fast and with run-on sentences, so bear with me as I share with you why I cried at the Apple store.
It’s been a busy week. Between getting the kiddos ready for back to school, catching up on editing and preparing for my flight to Arizona, let’s just say the last thing I needed was for my phone to die on me. You know the little device that I use for all my business and personal matters, the one I use to communicate with everyone? Yes, that device…completely went kaput.
Thursday night I made my way to the Apple store, I got there later than I wanted to but like I mentioned, it’s been a little crazy this week and come ‘on it was Thursday at 8:30pm. How busy could the store really be?…My answer came in a form of a line of 10 people ready to check in for service and a full house of customers trying out the latest gadgets and toys. I was approached by a young man with an Ipad to check me in. My name and info were taken but they were closing in less than 20 minutes and were booked out for the night with many other people ahead of me. Very nicely he told me I had to come back the next day. In a small panic and a pleading voice, I told him I was traveling out of state the next day and could he please have mercy on my soul! (A little dramatic, I know but … did I mention it’s been a tough week?) The very nice man…we’ll call him Mr. D, spoke into his earpiece (I assume with the phone gods) and obliged. He told me it may be a while but he would help me. Yay!
Being without a phone for a whole two days really makes you pay attention to your surroundings more often. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m fully addicted to my phone and often when waiting for something, I have my head stuck in the screen the whole time. As I sat there…people watching, a young man approached Mr. D as he continued to check in the last group of late arrivals. The young man cut ahead in line and tapped Mr. D on the shoulder, like he knew him. Before he even said a word, I recognized the young man was handicapped. I also noticed he was alone. He was carrying a small plastic Ziploc bag full of prescription medications and an IPod. I got a little nervous for him. As soon as Mr. D turned around to see who had tapped him, the young man started to very anxiously tell him to please help him fix his IPod. He spoke very fast and kept repeating himself over and over. This is a symptom I recognized too and it immediately reminded me of my son- and my breath caught in my throat. This is when my experience began.
I watched Mr. D try to explain to the young man that he may be able to help but it would take a few minutes, as he spoke, he kept getting interrupted by the consistent requests to “please have my IPod fixed”…that exchange continued for more than 2-3 minutes. 3 minutes is a long time to keep your cool and not lose your patience when the person you are speaking with won’t seem to understand what you are trying to say. It was surely a frustrating moment but Mr. D didn’t show an ounce of irritation or speak to the young man in any other way but kindly. Even as the line of people waiting grew and closing time approached quickly, Mr. D patiently stayed with the young man until he felt that he would be ok waiting. Mr. D came towards me with an apology for the wait- I assured him it was completely fine and could only muster the words- “you are so patient” to him. I knew if I spoke too much more than that, I would burst out in tears.
As he started to help me, the young man interrupted us to ask for his help again. He needed his IPod fixed and he wanted to see if he could find him a flashlight too- as a gift. We both understood that this request really didn’t make sense but Mr. D just patiently kept telling him “I gotcha you, I gotcha…give me just a few minutes and I’ll help you”… this is when Ms. C came in the picture- a young, petite and spunky apple genius. She asked for the next person on the list and loudly the young man responded. I heard Mr. D softly ask her “You got this?” (a question that meant more than its usual meaning). She simply smiled as she walked away with the young man behind her and said “yep”.
She lead the young man to the another area where she could fully pay attention to him…remember guys, this is a full house- customers needing to be helped left and right and it was past closing time by now. From where I sat, I had the perfect view. I didn’t mean to stare but I was in a trance. The young man, mid 30’s and about 6ft tall was rocking from one foot to the other (a soothing habit for people with Autism) he was fidgeting with his hands and would often turn his sight upwards to the ceiling or just close his eyes, all while speaking over her about getting his IPod fixed…he wasn’t in distress as much anymore but you can imagine it must have been very difficult to talk or explain technical problems or warranty issues to him. Ms. C was nothing but kind, respectful and so, so, SO patient. She spoke to him with a sweet voice but not with pity or condescension. She never showed any sign of frustration or irritation during what other people might have just walked away or had someone else help this particular customer. She took her time and looked for a way to reach him until he understood what she was saying. And she did it all with Kindness.
This hit me hard…as a mother of a child of special needs, most of my sleepless nights are spent worrying about my son’s future. I don’t worry about what camp he will go to this summer or what little league sport he will play this year. I worry about how the world would receive and treat him once we can’t protect him from it anymore. Will people roll their eyes at him in frustration? Walk away or just let someone else “deal” with him? Will people respect him as person and be KIND to him at a moment like this? Thinking about this and watching this scene unfold before me, hit too close to home.
I watched as Ms. C calmed down and put her customer at ease. To be honest, I’m not even sure if the IPod was fixed or not but the young man was no longer agitated and seemed satisfied with the outcome. As they stood there, another apple genius approached them. I’m not sure how this gentleman knew of the entire situation beforehand but I heard him tell the young man…”look what I have for you” and took off a small key chain flashlight out of his own key chain and handed it over to him. Really guys? Are you trying to make me cry?
As I sat there watching, Mr. D (still being pulled from one side of the store to the other) finally had the chance to come back to help me. As he started talking about warranties and replacement issues, Ms. C came by to update him or possibly get the name of the next customer in line she had to help. At that moment I told her how much I appreciated and admired how she reacted in a very trying situation. Of course mid sentence I couldn’t help it and I started balling my eyes out, certainly looking like a crazy person, but both Mr. D and Ms. C just listened quietly as I told them what I had witnessed and why it mattered SO much to me.
With tears in her eyes too, Ms. C hugged me. She thank me for telling her what I said, admitting that honestly, she did feel frustrated (understandably so) but knew she was going to treat this young man with nothing but respect and patience. She told me that she really didn’t know that she could get through such a trying situation, but she made the choice to be kind and that me telling her what I had witnessed, was confirmation that kindness matters.
And that’s really it guys, the reason I shared this very long story with you is as a reminder, not only to you but to myself, that it does matter. This particular young man didn’t seem to acknowledge the patience or way he was treated as anything new. He didn’t seem to appreciate the little flashlight he was given as a gift like anything out of the ordinary- he just put his IPod and new flashlight in his pocket, barely said thank you and left, so it would be easy to assume that their time and kindness simply did not matter. I can assure it did. It mattered to his mom. It mattered to the people that love and worry about him. It mattered to me.
I arrived home that night after the kids had gone to sleep. After I kissed them goodnight, I went to my room and prayed , something I know I don’t do often enough, that my son always finds people like the ones that night in his journey. People who have sweet soul and a kind heart. I prayed he is happy and loved by the world around him. I guess that the only thing all moms really want for their children.
So although they may never read this, I like end this by saying thank you again to those wonderful “geniuses” at the Apple store. Their patience and understanding touched more than just that young man that night and this girl won’t soon forget it.
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