“Mrs. Schulz, this is Alice at Food City…” (my heart stops: what’s wrong?). “Billy is getting an award this afternoon at 3:00; I thought you would like to be here.”
Would I? I called Mary and we met at Food City a little before 3:00. Billy saw us and declared, “Mom, I getting a ward!” He was beaming as he led us to the meeting room at the back of the store. Chairs were arranged for seating and refreshments were placed on tables: chips, dips, vegetables, fruit -a generous assortment. Billy sat on the front row with his friend Michelle, I sat behind them, and Mary found a place where she could take pictures unobtrusively.
Brandon, the store manager, explained the awards to be granted for community commitment and for length of time employed at Food City. Billy was called to the front and presented with a pin representing ten years of employment at Food City, a chain of over 100 grocery stores in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. It is a beautiful pin with 3 small rubies and a diamond. Billy accepted the pin with a big grin on his face, sat down and showed it to Michelle.
With tears running down my cheeks, I recalled the difficulty of our moving from North Carolina to Tennessee ten years ago, the anxiety of finding a job, learning new skills and trying to avoid stressful situations. I thought of Jonathan, the friend who taught Billy the unforeseen ropes and offered his friendship.
And I thought of Billy’s work experience: 21 years at Hunter Library in North Carolina and 10 years at Food City. That represents an employment record to be envied by anyone.
Not bad for a man who was diagnosed “trainable” as a child.