I meet a lot of interesting people at my job as an assistant manager at Family Dollar. I see people from all walks of life. I see good people and bad. It’s an interesting study of humanity.
Right now, I’d like to share with you about a young man named Ken. He always comes in with his mother. A short gray haired thin woman. She wears her wrinkles with a quiet dignity, never letting the tiredness I see in her face dampen her spirits. Ken does everything with her. He’s told me how she always beats him at pool. I can tell by her facial expressions that she sometimes gets annoyed at Ken’s overshadowing her, as she is quiet and private and he is loud and shares everything. He calls me Slim Shady when I have my hair dyed blond in the summer. He teases me that it’s a late 90’s, early 2000’s look. Imagine.
I know several things from conversations with them. Ken has ADHD. I think there’s some other issues as well, but I don’t think either he or his mother knows it. As a person with bipolar disorder myself, I recognize mental health issues in others. I don’t know if it’s bipolar, but there seems to be more at work. Neither generation has much education, and neither drives. They walk everywhere. I saw them crossing Union Boulevard near the Giant grocery store. It’s a very busy road. I assume they take the bus when they need to go farther, but I’ve never heard them mention it.
Ken always talks very loudly. He probably doesn’t realize it. It doesn’t bother me. I wear a hearing aid in one ear, so it’s kind of comforting to never miss anything someone says. He talks constantly, too. I won’t tell you it never bothers me, but only when I’m really busy and can’t focus on what he’s saying. I know as someone who hasn’t always fit in well, that he doesn’t have a lot of people to talk to.
It isn’t just idle chatter. He tells me about his experiences. People take advantage of him sometimes. I don’t tell him that. I just tell him what he should do in the type of situation he describes. He’s pretty sharp, though, and I only need to affirm what he suspects and he often has the solution himself.
He once told me how he applied to a convenience store up the street, but then was anxious (and I do think it was anxiety) about earning too much and losing his Social Security supplemental income. I told him to just limit his hours. He wanted to go tell them he didn’t think he should work there and to withdraw his application. I told him to just wait and check with Social Security about how much he could make. He couldn’t wait though and went to talk to the folks at the convenience store. He was told that people with ADHD can’t work, or something to that effect. Of course, you and I know they were never going to consider him for the job anyway. I felt for him that he had to find out directly what they thought of him. He was undaunted though. He said to me that it wasn’t right and asked if I agreed. I certainly did.
The kid wants to work, but this world has no place for him.
Over the winter, he shoveled snow all day long when we got 18″ of snow on top of a previous snow. That day, he stopped by the stock room as the manager and I were organizing after getting our weekly truck. He was agog with excitement from the day’s activities and his earnings. After he left, my boss commented that when she sees him, it makes her thankful that her kids turned out “normal”, not meaning it in a derogatory way, but as empathy for Ken’s mom and other parents. I said I think about what happens to him when his mom is gone. I’m sure our compassionate and generous society will have his back. (sarcasm) I hope current trends are reversed before that happens.
Finally, Ken talks about people at the businesses he frequents as his ‘friend’. I’m sure he talks about me as his friend and if he told me so, I’d tell him, “Right back at ya, kid.”