THINKING OUT LOUD - Parade revives warm feelings for group

A couple of weeks ago, I filled this space with my forecast of what we would be seeing at the Norwalk Lions' July 4 Parade. I then attended the parade and saw most of my predictions come to pass. Literally.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

A couple of weeks ago, I filled this space with my forecast of what we would be seeing at the Norwalk Lions' July 4 Parade.

I then attended the parade and saw most of my predictions come to pass. Literally.

I did note, however, that I had failed to mention in my predict-what-will-happen-in-the-parade column perhaps the most joyous group in the parade: the gentle men and women walking with the Christie Lane unit.

More than almost any other parade entrants, they seemed to be having a ball: smiling and chatting with each other and with people along the parade route. They just made you feel good about things.

And when I heard one man in the group ask another man what he was doing "tomorrow" (July 5) the second man said he had to work. Just like me, I thought.

And it also called to mind this story from seven or eight years ago when I encountered a guy named Andy at a Courtyard Hotel in Minneapolis.

I have often said that when you consider the operation of the human body with all its miles of nerves and blood vessels and arteries and muscles and such, it is a wonder that it works at all.

And you could readily see that, for Andy, a lot of that stuff never worked quite right from the start.

The only way he could walk was very awkwardly, throwing his body from side to side to lurch forward.

And talking was not much easier. He had to work to put the words together, and then they sometimes came out at surprising volume.

The Courtyard Hotel had made Andy a "greeter." And it is about the best fit of person and job I have ever seen.

He was stationed in the lobby of the hotel next to a beverage and snack cart, dressed nicely in a white shirt and tie. He stood there patiently for hours with the discipline of a Marine sentry.

But when a hotel guest approached, Andy would go into action: "Do you want something to drink? Or a cookie?" he would exclaim. "It's free!"

And you could see that nothing made him happier than to be able to get you a cold bottle of water or fruit juice or chocolate chip cookie.

Like almost everyone else who met this bundle of sunshine, I accepted his offer and chatted a minute with Andy.

"Is that a wedding ring?" I asked, which really caused him to beam.

"Yes," he explained. "I got married about six weeks ago. My wife is a greeter here, too. Exact same job. She works Tuesday and Thursday. I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday."

And, again, like almost everyone else who chatted with remarkable Andy, I left with a smile on my face and the most extraordinary feelings of gratitude to the parents and special education teachers and employers who have made it possible for people like Andy and his wife to share their gifts with us all.

I am happy that our July 4 parade brought those same warm feelings back to me.