While I was in college I worked at our neighborhood Baskin Robbins. Joel would come in all the time (once he disappeared from home because of Baskin Robbins, but that’s a different story for another day.) He loved that place and still does but we have to limit his visits now for health reasons. Many times when my family would come in while I was working Joel would refuse to leave. There were several occasions that our parents left him there while I was working because they could not get him out of the store. Luckily, the owner was very cool about it every time and also said Joel could stay as long as he wants. We did not think much of it other than thinking he was being rebellious towards our parents.
Joel can be very hard-headed at times, just like any other teenage boy. He listens when he wants too and has a hard time being obedient. BUT! This is only the case with us, when he’s at school, camp, or with other people who are not in his immediate family, he is such an angel. To be fair, his behavior has gotten better, but at the time this story is taking place he was still being difficult, but mostly just to our parents.
So, it was one of those days that Joel was refusing to go home and hiding behind the counter so our mom would give up trying to take him out. But this time was a little different instead of chilling in the back and playing games on his IPod, he stayed by the counter and said the word, work. (a little side note here: at this time I had also started working at our state’s PTI and I was beginning to learn a lot about disability and employment and all that good stuff) So, this put ideas in my head and I wondered if maybe Joel was ready to work. I called the owner and asked if it was okay to let Joel work with me, thankfully he was super supportive and said he could also take a share of the tips too.
So I gave him my Baskin-Robbins hat and he became the happiest kid ever. He did everything I told him to like a good employee. He helped me make cones, wash dishes, restock the supplies, and hand customers their order.
Most people were very nice and started conversations with us about disability and how cool it was to see him there. But there’s always a bad apple. One lady, although she never said anything, was bothered by him. She kept giving him a look and she didn’t want to take her cone from his hands. This caused Joel to drop the cone and he got upset and went to sit in the back. Still the lady never said anything, I fixed her order and she left. I was the kind of employee that never took crap like that from customers, but this time I kept my cool and went to tell Joel it was okay and we would try again later. He was trying to explain himself to me but he’s speech is very hard to understand, but he was able to pull himself together and went back to work. Later that night he called my dad to come get him when he was tired. He went home feeling accomplished and with some tip money.
He continued to pop in to work with me whenever he wanted until I stopped working there. I am very grateful that we know such an open minded person such as Ramzy, the owner of our Baskin Robbins, that allowed Joel, who can’t speak and only works when he feels like it, to come in whenever he wants for as long as he wants. What kind of employer does that? It’s truly amazing and encouraging to know there are people like this out there. You’ll never know what opportunities are out there until to open up and ask.
Here’s the same story but written for my job: FHF’s Version