Monday, March 26, 2012

Mall Rats

With the day’s plan unexpectedly changed (Change Happens), we arrive at Towne Square Mall and found handicap parking that allowed us to more easily unload the Three Gents of Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC):  Mark, Dempsey and Jerry.  As we moved through the parking lot to the mall entrance, I found myself again being a protective Mother Hen with Jerry.  I suppress the urge to “pitch in” to help him along.  With Jerry and the others, there is no getting in a hurry to do things; a change of pace for me and my lifestyle.   I would have the opportunity to practice greater patience as I hang out with these guys today.

Still too early for lunch, we wander the mall, stopping at Jerry’s favorite store, Game Stop.  Jerry loves playing video games on his PlayStation 3.  Watching him shop the games in the store was a fascinating experience.  Jerry carefully perused the shelves like you and I would when shopping.  He moved along to the back where more games were displayed, including the newest releases.  He took his time to carefully scan the wall of possibilities for a gamer.  The rest of us moved about the store, leaving Jerry to his business of shopping.  I entertained the waiting group with my pathetic Wii skills on a tester game at the front of the store.  Eventually Jerry finished, and we moved back out into the mall.

Mall walkers were busy making their rounds.  My previous trip to Walmart with Connie and Lisa (Walmart or Bust!) allowed me the opportunity to experience firsthand people’s reactions to individuals from our Campus.  Today, walkers maneuvered around us, not really giving our group a second look as they focused on their exercise.  We would be in a few people’s way once in awhile, and one of the Direct Support Providers (DSPs) or I would say “Excuse us” to which they’d nod and move on.  A few folks looked at the guys and smiled as they passed.  I didn’t notice anyone turning their heads to avoid us, nor did I hear anyone say anything disrespectful.  I was glad for it.

As we moseyed through the mall, we ran into Rex and Michael, two other folks with Supports for Community Living (SCL) folks, along with Lawrence, another DSP.  Michael, a tall man that seems out of place in his wheelchair, is a quiet type who paints.  In fact, his self-portrait was selected for display at the Smithsonian’s Reynold’s Center for Art and Portraiture in Washington, D.C.  I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time getting to know Michael on this trip.  Rex, on the other hand, is quite a character.  He's very outgoing, never at a loss for words, and independent in his power wheelchair.  Rex and I would visit some over lunch.

As the clock neared 11:00 a.m., we decided to head over to Show Me’s for lunch.  This newest restaurant in town, with pretty waitresses in short shorts and low scoop-neck tops, has become a favorite among the men from WFC.  Imagine that!  Men with developmental disabilities are the same as men without disabilities, but with one exception:  the former are better chick magnets, and these guys I’m hanging out with today got a lot of attention!  Show Me’s restaurant is very accommodating with table set up and electrical needs whenever WFC folks visit.  Today, we lunch in the back room where there’s less smoke.  Show Me’s is also familiar with the fact that WFC customers may need their food to be pureed for consumption.  I was very impressed by their accommodating service. 
Once settled in, we were ready to have lunch, and this experience would be my first full understanding of the meal time routines for those we serve.  It also provides a greater appreciation for my ability to enjoy a meal.

In the Next Blog Entry:  The Show Me's Lunch Experience -Once our lunches arrive, meals are blended in the food processor, crab legs are cracked and picked clean, and small bites are created so all may enjoy. . . .”

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