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This Is the Place Where Disability Inclusion Starts

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To the woman behind me in line at the checkout,

We all have places to be. But as I watch you watch our clerk move through my order, I wish you could see what I see.

Yes, his movements are less coordinated than you may anticipate. And he is striving for precision rather than time efficiency as he meticulously packs each item ever so carefully into their respective bags. He is communicating with me on a script, following through each step of our interaction whether or not the step is necessary.

He is not slow. He is thorough.

I see you scoff as I interrupt his flow and ask him how his day is going. He pauses to respond to me; his eyes look up briefly my way and then down, and he shows hints of an unsure smile as he searches to find his answer.

All the while I see you behind me huffing, shifting your weight nervously while checking your phone every few seconds. I assure you, I am aware of your increasingly glaring looks coming my way. I wonder if he is too. I wonder if you would behave like this in front of your children. I hope not.

Even though our interaction and conversation my not appear meaningful to you, who’s to say it wasn’t meaningful to him? He deserves to be engaged and treated with the same respect you would treat anyone else.

I wonder how he is feeling. I wonder if other people take the time to ask him how his day is, after he so politely asked me. I hope they do.

I thank him for his help as I walk away.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is not a policy in your corporate handbook, a memo from HR or a waiver you sign.

It’s appreciating our common humanity. It’s alive in our interactions with one another.

Let’s make sure what our children see is the world we all want to be living in. Inclusion starts and ends with each of us.


A mom who hopes that someday her son can be that clerk

Getty image by GPoint Studio.

Originally published: September 11, 2019
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