Sunday, May 27, 2012

"You Gotta Piece of the Puzzle Here, Huh?"

I work in retail.  It can be hell, let me tell you.  I worked at the Guest Service Department through two Christmases (I deserve a medal just for that) and now have been in the pharmacy as a technician for almost 4 years.  While we have our share of nice guests, they get overshadowed and outnumbered by the mean and rude.  I am shocked by the lack of self-responsibility and disrespect by people.  The hardest part is to just smile and take it everyday.  There are moments when I don't think I can anymore.  One night I almost yelled a scene from The Elephant Man.. "I AM A HUMAN BEING...I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!!"

So when the weekends come around, I like to stay home with my family.  I rarely like to go out and shop. By the end of the week, I am in need of a break from the ugliness of our human race!

But this weekend, we had a garage sale that these humans I speak of came to.  I wanted the sale to needed to happen!!  All year long when we purged things out of the house that we didn't want, or didn't fit, or didn't need.. we would say "put it in the garage for the sale next spring".  So here we were..near  the end of "next spring".  Our garage was one little item away from looking like a scene from "Hoarders".  It was time.

We had the perfect reason to have a sale... the perfect idea...the perfect motivation!  A month ago, we found out that this June while we are vacationing in Wisconsin to visit the hubby's family,  they are having the "Spectrum Shuffle" (an Autism walk by the Chippewa Vally Autism Society).  Since Trey was diagnosed with ASD in April, we have wanted to get involved and help support the cause as much as we can.  So we rounded up some family members that wanted to join us too.  The registration fee is $90.00 for us all and I didn't want anyone to have to pay let's have a benefit garage sale for "Team Trey"!! We set the date and had 4 WEEKS to plan our big sale.. perfect!  Enough time to go through and organize our stuff, price it, make special signs, etc...

Nice idea.. but it wasn't until about 6 p.m. the night before the sale date, we decided go out to the garage to get things ready for a sale the next morning.  We get done with it all about around 2 a.m... and got back up bright and early at 6:30 a.m. for our sale.  It was already hot and was only going to get hotter (mid 90's) as the day went on.  Trey had a meltdown probably because all the unusual chaos of it all.  I was tired...and crabby...and it hadn't even started.  Then the people began to come... ugh, humans.  Just buy some crap and go away, please.

But it wasn't like that at all. I didn't expect to laugh and be truly touched to tears by these people!!  I had posted two signs about Autism awareness and why we were doing this sale.  Those two little signs brought strangers to share with me their stories of how Autism has affected their lives.  I had to share them here:

Two boys and a girl came up to pay... they were college kids most likely from the local university.  They bought board games and our precious "The Hangover" DVD.  As they were about to walk away, one of the boys turned around and handed me $2.00 and said, "Here.. this is for your son."  I was so touched and thanked him.  He then proceeded to tell me about a friend he made in high school who has Autism.  He said he helped him with school and everything for 3 years while he was in high school too.  I told him how awesome I thought that was.. and asked him how he was doing now.  He got a big smile on his face like a proud parent and said "He's great! He just graduated from high school last week!"  I told him I love to hear stories like that.. it gives me so much hope for my own son.  I asked him his first name.  He looked at me kinda funny and said "Nicholas".  I told him I write a blog about our journey with our Autistic son... and said I am going to have to mention him in my next one.  So that's Nicholas's story.. and you needed to hear it.

"I see you have a piece of the puzzle here, huh?" I hear a woman yell from the street. I yelled back with pride that I certainly do!  She must have noticed my sign on the mailbox.  As she walked up the driveway, she eagerly began to tell me the story of her two grandsons on the Autism Spectrum.. brothers who were 16 and 12.  She told me they lived with her for 8 years before her daughter remarried.  She talked about how fascinated they were  with dragons, and dinosaurs, and Pokemon.  Then her husband chimes in (which I have a feeling he doesn't have the opportunity to do that very much) and says now it's all about video games.  He says they have thousands of dollars in games and equipment.  She starts in again with stories.. mostly about the 16 year old.  She definitely enjoyed talking about her boys.. the stories were sometimes sad but she seemed to find humor in every situation.  Like how the 16 year old has a habit of yelling the "F" word at school and ends up in the principals office.  The school clearly has no idea how to punish this boy... because if they put him in detention, he loves it.  She says he loves the one-on-one time with a teacher so for him it's not punishment at all.  "Come on, Betty!" the lady's husband yells from the truck.. which I now realize is probably the third time he has yelled it.  She finally yells back at him and then turns to me... "Oh, I have to tell you one more story.  This one is so funny..." I didn't want Betty to leave. :)

The Old Man and His Grandson with "The Aspergers":
We had a few books at our sale.. like over 3,000.  My hubby had only good intentions when he wanted to expand his online Amazon store to include used books.  He got a great deal on Craig's List for them all but it was a daunting task... so now they were lined up in bins on the front lawn.  Most people who came to the sale seemed too overwhelmed to spend much time looking at them.  Then The Old Man and his grandson walk up.  His grandson went immediately to the books... and stayed there for nearly an hour.  I smiled inside to think such a young kid (maybe 15 or 16 years old) would have such interest in these books that were mostly old textbooks and outdated computer manuals.  The Old Man just wandered around looking at the rest of our junk that consisted primarily of baby toys and toddler clothes.  We chatted a little about the weather and all the books as he patiently paced.  He mumbled sometimes and I just smiled. Then he stopped at one point and said, "My grandson over there... he's got the Aspergers. He's a bright one."  He said it with a twinkle in his eye like he was bragging... I loved that and even got a little choked up.  Then he walked away to browse the toddler toys once more.  After I helped a couple people with their purchase, he came back holding something in his hand.  He places the item in front of me, starts digging in his back pocket for his wallet, and says "I don't really know what that is, but how much?"  I kinda laughed and told him it was my sharpie pen I must have left on the table.. then he laughs too.  At that moment, his grandson walks up with a pile of books with subjects ranging from Freud to the Modern World of Africa (that was published in the 1950's) and says "I would like to purchase these items of literature."  He was such a polite and adorable young man.  The Old Man paid for the books and they both left.  But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight... "I woulda bought that pen!"
"Ok...shut it down.  I need a nap, people!"

I learned a lot during this special garage sale.  I learned that Autism has touched the hearts many people... whether they are parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts, or fellow students.  I learned that Autism can make that child special and unique and worth bragging about.  Oh, and I also learned that there are still a lot of loving, caring, giving, and compassionate humans in this world.

1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness for random garage sale patrons who helped you find your bliss yesterday!! I just have to share this on my The Invisible Village page. Check it out