Tuesdays with autism – A good surprise: community good guy

Miranda Steffen


I have been thinking today is Tuesday. It makes no sense because I thought yesterday was Wednesday. Maybe tomorrow I will think it’s Christmas, or better yet, Purple. Who knows. This week has been a heavy one. It’s easy to watch the horrors unfolding and worry about what kind of world our kids are growing up in. It’s scary. I had an active shooter dream a few nights ago and woke up, panicked. It’s the stuff of nightmares whether you’re awake or asleep.

There’s a wonderful Mr. Rogers quote that floats around when this all-too-often event takes place:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It’s a good reminder for all of us, as parents, as humans. We have to hold on to the good when so much bad is out there. BE the good by calling your legislators, by advocating for change, by being a voice, by educating yourself and others, by voting with knowledge regarding your politicians and their stances, not just with a pencil and a shrug.

I had a surprise Good Moment last week in 7-Eleven that I wanted to share with you guys. Aiden and I had pulled in for gas and a drink. It’s the station around the corner from our house, so we all frequent it often. That said, I’m usually there sans kids. I gas up and dash or I run in while everyone hangs in the car (don’t crucify me, doors are locked and I can see them at all times).

We walked in and I heard, “Hey there Mister Aiden, how are you today?” I turned around and didn’t see anyone but the cashier. “Do you know someone in here?” I asked A. He shrugged and got himself a drink. We approached to pay and Ty**, the cashier, looked at Aiden, “are you having a good day?” Aiden smiled and nodded.

This isn’t the first time that people have come up to strike a conversation with Aiden. Sometimes, I don’t think people realize that he will not give me context so I *really* appreciate disclaimers. I find out they have subbed in his class or helped him at an event, etc etc. Just adults being warm and friendly, which I appreciate and love. That said, I’ve done it a dozen or so times as well in my previous teacher life so I get it.

“How do you know Aiden?” I asked. Ty grinned and said, “He comes in here with Mr. Steffen quite a bit. We make it a point to know all of our extra awesome customers in case friends wander or they come in alone, distressed, things like that.” Then he looked at Aiden, “and Aiden, YOU are extra awesome, man!” Aiden smiled.

You guys, I stood there dumbfounded. I’m a cryer. I cry at EVERYTHING. There’s still a commercial I saw when Phoenix was a baby in 1999 that makes me tear up if I think about it. I cry when I’m sad, frustrated, mad. I cry when I’m laughing hysterically. I cry a LOT. So being this moved by a random act of selfless thoughtfulness….well, it’s a miracle that I didn’t breakdown at the counter and held it together until I got to the car.

And let me rewind the message and break it down a bit more. Not only is he saying such a reassuring, kind, statement, what he’s NOT saying is extra important, too.
He isn’t talking to me like Aiden isn’t there. (It happens)
He isn’t talking down to Aiden. (It happens A LOT)
He has worded this to respect Aiden (“extra awesome customers”).

I don’t know this man from Adam. He isn’t in special ed, and he isn’t a cop/firefighter who has been trained to “be on the lookout”. He’s a cashier at 7-Eleven being one of the good guys. Being one of the helpers.

I’m not going to lie, I haven’t thought much about 7-11 as a corporation, but I started looking into them and saw that they are very big proponents of social responsibility. I encourage you to take a look.


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