I found myself at my local Dunkin’ Donuts Sunday. Don’t judge. I was only getting iced coffee, I swear. OK, so I thought about getting a doughnut and eating it in the shop to hide the evidence from Veronica. But I didn’t. Besides, that’s not the point.
When I walked in the store, there was a man with (I presume) his two children. There was a boy who looked to be about Ryan’s age and a much younger daughter. The daughter flitted about, asking if she could have this doughnut or that one. She was adorable.
But my attention was focused immediately on the son, who was clearly developmentally impaired. I recognized the somewhat stilted speech. Right away, I realized what the father was doing. He was working with his son to place his order and handle the entire transaction himself.
I was glad to be the only other person in the store. I stood back so that if the father looked in my direction it would be obvious that there was no rush. The last thing I wanted was to interfere with the important life lesson that was underway.
The other thing I noticed was the cashier. I searched his face for signs of impatience as he waited for the young man to slowly enunciate his order, count out his money, and count the change, pick up his order and show it to his dad for approval.
I found absolutely none. He was as patient and pleasant as could be. Most importantly, he addressed the young man directly. He did not turn, as would have been easier, to ask the father. He kept the interaction between himself and the son, and thus allowed the lesson to proceed.
The entire interaction lasted perhaps two minutes. It only felt longer because it was slower than the typical transaction at the DD counter.
I have to think much was accomplished in those two minutes. A step towards self-reliance and perhaps a boost of self-confidence for the son, and for the father the satisfaction of watching his gain a measure of independence.
So thank you, Dunkin’ Donuts Guy, for doing a little thing which allowed a father and son to accomplish a Not Little Thing. I’d say that I will go out of my way to patronize your store, but since it’s a half-mile from my house, I’m pretty sure that would happen anyway. But I’ll just feel a little better about it when I do — even when I’m ordering a doughnut I don’t need.