Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How We See Ourselves

My favorite bagger at the grocery store is David. David is a man with some sort of developmental disability, although he functions with a high degree of independence. He is unfailingly friendly and we always chat while he is bagging the groceries. We often talk football, and he especially enjoys teasing me about my team, which is currently, well, underperforming, while his, of course, is not.

My two adult sons, James and Dan, have autism. They are not able to live independently. They are both verbal but have limited communication skills and pretty much no social sensitivity. Neither of them would be able to hold down David’s job.

I was in the store not long ago with James and Dan. While we were at the checkout stand, Dan picked up on something different about David. In his usual direct way, Dan asked him, “Are you disability?” Meaning, of course, are you disabled? I suppressed a gasp and glanced at Tina, the cashier. David, looking like a deer in the headlights, stammered, “What?” Dan, bless his heart (you gotta love him), didn’t miss a beat and asked him again.

David, embarrassed, stammered yes. Tina and I quickly changed the subject and we moved through the awkward moment with a shrug and a laugh. When I was back in the car with Dan and James, I explained to Dan that it was not polite to ask someone if they are disabled. Dan said, as he usually does when corrected, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Then, out of curiosity and in clear violation of what I had just said (!), I asked Dan if he was disabled. Without hesitation, he answered confidently, “No!”

Well, there you go, I thought. Aren’t we all like that? I chuckled and patted Dan on the knee and home we went.


  1. :) moments of truth set us free to see, don'tch'think?

  2. Galen. This is such a sweet post. Your acceptance to situations is a shining example for everyone.

  3. David does sound like a warm-hearted soul who surely wouldn't have a bad bone in his body I'm sure. I too have run across some people with disabilites and when I have offered to help them or hold a door, which I would do even for some one without disibilities some are almost angry for my help, while others just smile and offer thank-you...I guess we all have our days of not accepting who we are, I would rather accept who and what I am and just move on....thank goodness for the Davids in our world! well as everyone else, Dan, James, Dick and Jane, and all the other people who make up our daily lives!

  4. That brought a smile to my face early on a Thursday morning. Blessing to you and your sons.

  5. Puts things in perspective.

  6. Rhonda--That was a moment of truth, to be sure! Thanks for commenting.

    Manzanita--Well, my favorite quote is "If you're getting run out of town, get in front and make it look like a parade!" Thanks for your comment.

    Karen--David is indeed a kind soul. I always enjoy visiting with him, even if his team is better than mine! Thanks for commenting.

    Bob--Blessings are always welcome! Thanks for your comment.

    ryoko--It did for me! Thanks for commenting.

  7. I loved this brought me back to the good old days when my youngest was constantly asking inappropriate questions in public and loudly - We were so relieved when the brain scan showed the lesion in the brain over long term memory...after 11 years of therapy...she now says she never had ODD or memory problems....and only once has she confirmed that she has a complete cleft palate...and thanked us for the good repair work - she had just met a young man her age with a bazaar looking repair and he was so happy he had a repair!

    I am so grateful for this experience because it so helps me in communicating with people and I know how to gain clarity and work things through without embarrassment and keeping things in perspective.

  8. Hi Galen,
    The things we say out of innocence.....
    Thank you,
    be good to yourself

  9. We all need to accept who are and we can learn from the good of those like David.

  10. Patricia--Thanks for sharing some of your own story. We do learn compassion and acceptance in these situations, as you say. Thanks for your comment.

    David--No matter how long I deal with this, there are still surprises! Thanks for commenting.

    Bonnie--Yep, David is one of the good guys. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Galen you're amazing, I love how you handled this situation. It's interesting how we view ourselves vs. how others view us, this is definitely something to think about.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Thanks for sharing your experience. Hontestly to say, I have the same problem you son Dan has. I do something make my best friends hurt. Even that, I don't know what I did wrong.

  13. darlin--Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure what else I could have done in the moment other than shrug and laugh! It is interesting--I had never considered how Dan viewed himself until that moment. Very revealing! Thanks for commenting.

    iPad--I hadn't thought about it from that perspective! We all have our insensitive moments, to be sure. Thanks for your comment.


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