Jim Morrison of The Doors tells us “People Are Strange.” No argument there. But people are nice, and not so nice. While eating with Luke recently in a Wisconsin restaurant, a woman sitting in the next booth asked me if I’d ever taught Luke table manners. Not so nice.
I saw a grandma (it was obvious) today at Once Upon a Bagel who wore a shirt that said “We could always be nicer.” What a beautiful sentiment. Much better than “Life is Good,” when sometimes it just isn’t.
We’ve met lots of nice people in Highland Park, and are extraordinarily LUCKY that people here are tolerant of disabilities, and are very kind to Luke.
You know these people—Bob Crimo of Bob’s Pantry, Lynda Iovino at Walgreens in Ravinia, Ruth and Jonathan at the library, Terry (now retired) and Freda at Sunset Foods. There’s also the school bus drivers who wait for Luke at our driveway and the peer mentors at Highland Park High School. Here are some examples of “saintly” kindness, as my husband Bob and I call it, because they may be harried, stressed-out employees who also just happen to care.
When Luke began to ride his bike independently around the Ravinia business district, (OMG, not in downtown), his favorite destination was Bob’s White Hen Pantry. He befriended Bob before his store in Ravinia got kicked to the curb by 7-11. Luke now frequents Bob’s store on Oakwood. All of the employees know him, make his sandwiches, and help him with his money.
One day, Bob happened to see Luke leave the store and not take the bike trail, as he’s been told to do. Bob knows this. He watched from the store as Luke got disoriented, and tried to navigate Sheridan Road. It is not safe for an unsure rider such as Luke, especially during late afternoon. He jumped in his “chicken van” and followed Luke. My doorbell rang as Bob arrived, and Luke came into the garage simultaneously. Bob had followed Luke down Sheridan Road, up Roger Williams and to our house on Rice to be sure he’d made it safely. Of course I threw my arms around Bob and thanked him -- wouldn’t you?
The Ravinia Walgreen’s is also a favorite destination also for Luke. Most of the employees know him, help him order photos, and find items that I give to him on a list. He knows how to withdraw money from the ATM if his wallet is low. He went recently and the ATM was down. His purchases exceeded the money he had. He had no idea what to do. The employees -- Linda Iovino and two others, taught Luke how to use the debit card machine and get cash back. They spent time with him, knowing they had other responsibilities, not to mention the ten people in the checkout line. Everyone in line waited and watched.
Kudos to all of you who have made life for Luke comfortable, happy and safe in Highland Park! I’m darned glad we moved here!