I like to shop at an Old Navy that is a little far from me but near my favorite market. I usually make a few hours of my grocery shopping, couponing, and Old Navy deal searching. I have made some awesome scores at that store like two dollar PJ's and ninety nine cent mittens.
Today I went back to this store and I was determined to get a name, and I was ready to take this situation on, but again I was paralyzed and I couldn't do it. For some reason this situation deflates me. I watched John again today. He was straightening the racks and looked pretty darn bored. I bet he was. I used to be a rack straightener myself in the many years I gave to retail work. It's not fun and pretty darn tedious . But John was determined and when a customer walked by he greeted them. "Hi how are you?" and John was scolded. A customer walked by holding a baby and John left his post and said " Hi your baby is so cute!" The customer thanked him with a smile, and John was again scolded. John went back to his racks and began to dance to the music, he was scolded, he tried to wave at customers discreetly, and you guessed it he was scolded. Here is where I lost it. John noticed that a baby dropped his sippy cup. He picked it up and began to walk to the fitting rooms where the mother and child were. His superior saw this and lost it with him. She reminded him that he was not to touch A THING that did not belong to him! At this point an actual Old Navy employee stepped in and tried to tell his supervisor that she told John to take it to the fitting rooms. His supervisor was not hearing it and grabbed the cup out of his hand. She walked to the fitting rooms herself (I followed her) she handed it to the mother and in a sing song voice said I found this your baby must of dropped it. She then went back to John and informed him that she had a better task for him and he needed to stand by her and fold the denim wall. I started to cry. I dropped my merchandise and ran out.
This is a hard dish to swallow. On one hand, we have made great progress in the special needs community, but on the other hand we have gotten nowhere. Giving individuals jobs and work skills is incredibly valuable, treating them like garbage in the process is dehumanizing.
Luckily I have more shopping to do next week and I feel a little more armed. Next week I'm going to find out who this organization is and I'm going to change it. I don't know how, but I will. Next week I'm going to stand up for John. I will be his voice when he can't find his. I will show him that someone values him. Next week I will not cry, OK maybe I will.
Next week is going to be John's week, because I'm coming friend.
* I want to make an edit to this post to clarify....
I want everyone here to know that I do not blame Old Navy for this situation, they really are just the victims in an attempt to do the right thing. I actually am willing to bet the organization is a good one, my issue is with this specific group and their supervisor. I also want to make clear that I am not basing this on an one time experience, but of a few years of obsessive observation. I had hoped that over the years the organization would prove me wrong, and what I had witnessed was just a bad day or an isolated incidence. Instead I can give countless examples, and not just John. I have a bucket full of negative after negative interaction.
Lastly I also want to clarify that there is no shame in rack straightening and folding. I did that job for years, but that job is not for everybody and obviously not for John. There is a young woman there who is a phenomenal organizer and has unbelievable attention to detail. I actually complimented her on her wall and took a picture. She was non-verbal, but was still scolded and ushered away from me.
** This is the last edit I hope to make to this post. As this blog post has rapidly ran its way around the internet I want to make it very clear that Old Navy is not the problem in this situation. They have actually done the right thing by connecting with a work program to employee people with different abilities. The problem lies in this situation alone and it may not even be an representation of the organization and or work program. I see it as an individual problem of the supervisor/ work coach ( not an Old Navy employee) and how she personally treats her team. At this time I do know the name of the organization that sends out these teams and I have made contact with them. I am not publicly naming them for many reasons.