Friday, July 8, 2011

i like you!

Sometimes, part of my responsibilities for my new job include driving some of our core members to their job at a sheltered workshop. The first few times I went, I simply rode along with one of my coworkers driving, so that I could learn the route and figure it out. It took me a few days (and actually some attempts on my own during time off) for me to get comfortable with the route and the routine of driving to our two other houses, picking up the core members, driving to the workshop, walking inside and accompanying them to their different work stations, and then driving home. But I got into the groove and thought I had everything figured out.

That's when they switched it up on me. They decided to do some work on the parking lot. So the large parking lot where all of the buses would load and unload is now being dug up and expanded and resurfaced and all that fun stuff. Which means that the buses don't park there anymore. They now use the small lot which was used by the vans. Now dropping off and picking up people from this workshop is quite the ordeal. There are always at least three staff members in bright yellow vests directing traffic. They motion you in to park in the part of the larger parking lot that isn't being worked on, and you're not supposed to leave your vehicle unattended. Instead, they radio in and ask for the people you are picking up to be brought out. It's really quite the production.

What I do, however, is drive past this parking lot and into the upper lot which is where all of the employees and staff park. I then have to get out of my van, walk down the hill, around the usable portion of the larger parking lot, passed the yellow-vested staff members and into the building. Then I can go about dropping off or collecting my core members the way I've grown accustomed to. Apparently, not very many people do this, but the staff members expressed their appreciation to me the other day because this new modified pick-up and drop-off routine is really meant for those with mobility issues, like people in wheelchairs or with walkers or some other assistive device. It is preferred that those who are able would park in the upper lot and walk down. But not everyone follows along with this and they opt for the ease of being able to sit in their vans and dropping people off or having them brought out to them.

But, really, I prefer to be able to go in. I've gotten to know some of the other clients (I think that's what they call them) who work in the workshop. I've learned their names and they say hello and give me fives and "knuckles" when they see me. One guy has even said he's going to ask his mom if he can come over to my house.

There is one guy, in particular, who I've really grown to appreciate. He's always in the same spot, and I have to walk right by him to drop off one of my core members. He's in a wheelchair, and I learned the other day that he's actually deaf. But he can say some things and every day I walk by him he says the same thing to me. With a smile and a wave he says, "I like you! I like you!" I always smile and wave back and say "I like you, too!" I'm not sure if he can read lips, but I know he knows what I'm saying. One day, I walked past him while he was in the middle of another activity and I didn't say or do anything to bother him, but as I got a little way passed him I could hear him shouting it, so I turned and there he was, smiling and waving at me and telling me he likes me.

And this alone makes the inconvenience of the extra walking and maneuvering worth it. I don't mind that it takes more time to walk my people inside. Because I get the reminder that no matter what else happens that day, no matter how much I mess up or how many mistakes I make or how many things I forget to do or how little patience I seem to have or how miserable of a day I might be having that this one person likes me and he is so excited to let me know that.

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