"Greet one another with an holy kiss." (2 Corinthians 12:13)
Not everyone likes that famous Frank Capra Christmas classic film, "It's a Wonderful Life". Boston area radio talk show host Michael Graham says it's an incredibly stupid story- that Clarence the angel should have just said, "Mr. Potter stole the money!" and somehow gone and scared Mr. Potter half to death, recovered the funds, and all would have been solved. Of course, technically, Michael Graham is correct about that. But, Michael's just not considering the artistic value of the film and a much deeper message: that of the lives we touch and the people we affect that we are not even aware of. I've gotten to know a young man in the past few months that most people have never heard of, and that most would consider totally unimportant and insignificant. The guy is about 25-years-old. His name is "Daniel". I don't even know Daniel's last name. As much as I have hated going through the experience of having the small church I pastored closed up, having my ministry seriously questioned and scrutinized, and being deemed not healthy to be doing ministry at this time, this experience has caused me to look at life very differently. I've been very humbled, and I've gotten to know quite a few people that I never would have met were I still pastoring. One of those is Daniel.
I have often mentioned that I work at a telephone answering service, and I do about thirty-three hours a week. I do have another job, however. I hand out leaflets for the BJ's Wholesale Club Optical Department anywhere from two to six hours a week at the main entrance of the store. That's where I got to know Daniel as despite his right arm being in a cast, he was cheerfully greeting customers. It was pretty obvious from the beginning that Daniel suffers from some disabilities. His speech can be difficult to understand. He tends to speak with sort of slurred speech and sort of lisping speech. You have to really pay attention to follow what Daniel's talking about. I felt so bad for Daniel one day about three months ago. A slim, bright, attractive and very impatient female shopper probably in her 30s asked him where some item was located in the store. With his slurred and lisping speech, he tried to tell her.
"I can't even understand you, I don't know what you're saying!" she said.
Her words were angry, cutting, and demaning. I wanted to say to her, "Can't you see that he's disabled?! Can't you see that he's trying to help you?!" I didn't, and maybe I should have.
In time, Daniel trusted me enough to tell me he was very seriously injured in a car accident as a very young child. There is brain damage. He was in the cast due to breaking his wrist in an accident on the job. I don't want to violate any confidences here, but I have had the opportunity to share my faith in Jesus Christ with Daniel. I've done that a couple of times. I don't push,but if the opportunity arises, I don't mind sharing my faith.
Some people would see Daniel as very juvenile. He likes video games and is a huge fan of "My Little Pony" which he sometimes talks about almost endlessly. Despite his handicaps and limitations, however, Daniel actually has some talent, in my opinion, as an entertainer.
"Welcome to BJ's Welcome to BJ's Welcome to BJ's" he will jump and yell rapidfire as customers enter the store. And with just as much gusto he will yell, "Have a nice evening!" over and over again to those who are leaving. Daniel seems to take real pride and joy in connecting with customers and in representing the store with his antics, which have sometimes included performances with a hand puppet!
No, Daniel's not a manager nor is he a leader nor is he a macho strongman or tradesman or handyman, and he probably will never be any of those things. Yet, I think Daniel's much more of an asset to BJ's Wholesale Club than their management would ever imagine and even more than he would ever imagine. Yesterday, as I handed out leaflets and watched Daniel greet customers, I thought that someone with some kind of importance really ought to give Daniel a big handshake, a warm greeting, and let him know that what he's doing really matters. I sadly realized that's just not likely to happen, but I then purposed to write this blog piece. Daniel will never be named a "Citizen of the Year" in Framingham or anything close to that, but he deserves kudos and recognition. Honestly, as nutty as this would sound to corporate BJ's management, they ought to feature him in a television commercial. I think he'd become a popular and liked symbol of their store. That's just my opinion.
If you're anywhere near Framingham, Massachusetts at this holiday season, and especially if you're a BJ's Member, you ought to come through the doors of the Framingham store and experience Daniel's warm greeting, and let him know it's appreciated. I think you'd really make his Christmas. Again, Daniel is about twenty-five. He recently had his cast removed after ten months. Daniel's of average height, and has dark brown hair which can have a bit of a slicked down look at times. He also tend to go without shaving for days on end and sport a scruffy beard. You can't miss the smile and antics. Now, he DOES go on break from time to time and isn't always working there, of course, but he typically is there Monday through Friday from late morning to early evening. Again, if you want to do a really nice thing at Christmas, you'd really bless him by stopping by and being friendly.
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