Two Different Opinions


Yesterday, I took Al to the local pharmacy to get some medications picked up. Of course, we also stopped at the back to the luncheonette and ate lunch also. There was a gentleman sitting on one of the bar stools, that my brother recognized immediately. His eyes lit up with twinkles, as he walked as fast as he could over to him, and said, hi. I had no idea who this was, as is usually the case when we stop and chat with people he knows. The guy was eating, and turned briefly to look at Al, then he turned back to his plate and grabbed a napkin to wipe his hands off when he had seen that Al was holding his hand out for a hand shake. The guy turned back around and gave me the oddest look, but half way reached his hand out to shake Al’s hand. Again, I got that odd look. Like he was asking ME who this guy was. Al just kept on chatting away like they were old buddies. He asked how the practices were going and the guy made one sentence  period. I coach the boys. Alright, I am starting to get it now. This guy was a coach for the high school team, but I didn’t know what team yet. I could tell by another odd look, making three now in total, that he wanted to get back to eating his lunch and talking to the people beside him. I am not sure if he knew his dining neighbors or not, not really important to me at the second. I gave a small tug to Al’s back of shirt, and said to him, let’s go find a place to sit down, before all the seats were taken. Al got my hint, and slowly started moving on, telling the guy good luck and to enjoy his lunch. As we walked past him, they guy gave me the fourth and final look and I just smiled at him, feeling inside a bit that I wanted to smack him for seeming so rude to Al. When Al and I found a spot to sit, we ordered our meal, I asked him if he knew that guy. I wasn’t really sure, as Al talks to everyone, friend or stranger. He said sure! He is the local high school basketball coach! Oh, I thought, a real hero in Al’s eyes. When Al was younger, he bought season tickets to each year’s basketball games. He never missed a one, I am sure. Since I have taken care of him, and we have been back to Indiana, the caregiver took him to all of the home games. When each week would come and the newspaper would have a front page on the sports page about the home and away games, Al would ask me to print them out for him on the computer. Al has, in his bedroom, plastic bags filled with game pages and sectional games dating way back to the seventies. He takes very good care of these, sometimes, carefully, taking them out of their holder and reading through them. Al has always been a number one fan of the local basketball games and coaches. When there was an away game, Al would turn on his coca cola radio and listen to the games this way. He can no longer go to the games from his Parkinson’s. This illness won’t allow him to walk the full way into the gym and be able to climb on the bleachers, but I am sure he will still listen again this coming fall to them on his radio. I told Al that I didn’t think this guy really knew him, and before I could continue, he says, sure he knows me! I talk to him after each game, and I shake his hand. I tried to remain calm and smiley for Al’s sake, but inside was taking a tiny bit of an offense to the guy’s cold shoulder treatment to Al. I went so far on to give the coach a break, realizing that he sees Al so little, compared to all the guys he interacts with, that he didn’t really remember Al. After all, this is the big coach of our town. He has a reputation of being a good man, a family man, nice to all, wanting everyone to be treated fair and have a chance in life. Well, this is what I would think he would be like. His name in the paper weekly, the paper telling of the team spirit he carries for his players, the good things he does in the community. When Al and I finished our lunch, we got up to leave and had to pass the coach. The coach was talking to the retired mayor of our town. The two of them were laughing and commenting on this and that. I could tell that they were enjoying their time together. As we neared him, Al says to him, hope you have a good day buddy! The coach looks at him and said, you too, and the mayor nods his head in echo. I get closer to the coach and I say to him, this is my brother Al, who is one of your biggest fans. He says he has always shook your hand after each game, and that I am sorry if he took too much of your time earlier, while you were eating. I tell him that Al and his caregiver always went to each of his games, but he can no longer go because of his illness not allowing him to get on the bleachers. The coach says to me, wow, that’s too bad, and then goes back to talking to the mayor. We move on about our way. I don’t know what I was expecting from this fine, outstanding citizen of our city, but it wasn’t that. I somehow wanted to hear him actually carry on a conversation with Al, like he was doing with the mayor. I somehow expected him to have made the choice to brighten Al’s day up with a few kind words. Maybe, it is my defense mechanism kicking in here, but I feel like he didn’t think Al would bring to him any special attention, no pats on the back. He wasn’t raising the coach’s ego in any way. He was just a guy walking by, with terrible tremors, not too good of manners, but pure excitement of meeting his hero, and this jerk passed him over. Sometimes, I want to say the hell with people! I will keep my brother close to me, and shield him from the junk in this world, but I can not do this to Al. He is a very social person, who had already had his day made brighter by shaking the hand of his favorite hero. In Al’s mental state, he totally missed all the signals from the coach that he didn’t want to reach out. For me, this is a blessing. No pain here. A big smile on Al’s face as we walked out the door and got into our car. A brother and sister, blood relation, the same genes, with entirely two different opinions here.

Coach Now 2009

Coach Now 2009 (Photo credit: inboundpass)

49 thoughts on “Two Different Opinions

  1. I do have an opinion Terry. I vote for Al. He enjoyed greeting a hero and came away smiling. I understand that you would have loved for the coach to pay special attention to him, and maybe the coach was even asking for help as he cast those “who is this?” glances at you. It is, however, always dangerous to make assumptions about other people’s motives. All you know, or at least reported, is that he was interrupted while deep in conversation with his luncheon companion, and took the time to respond to the interrupter.

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    • i see your point Mona. The one fact I did leave out, is that the mayor also interrupted the coach’s lunch, but the main thing i got out of my story as i wrote it, is that Al ended up happy and i just had opinions

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    • yes, Diane, i was not mad at the coach. he has his own life, but how many times do people go out of their way to make someone’s day brighter, when they can see that this is a special needs person. many special needs people live on the excitement of a comment or something we see as so little, for days, sometimes longer. each time they speak of it, the spark comes back in their eye. i think this coach could have done this for Al, as he was interrupted by the former mayor while he was eating also, and was enjoying the interruption of someone important. this was my point in the story. i am glad Al missed it all.

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  2. Some people are just odd – and you are completely right – just sod them, why bother with them. Maybe Al felt the same – and couldn’t be bothered neither, what ever it turned out to be a great day for you both and that’s what is most important. It’s so wonderful to read about your sunny days … and where Al are feeling good about life.

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  3. Wow way to go for speaking up even if you didn’t get the reaction you hoped for! i would almost want to write an article to the local newspaper on that one! i am ticked at this guy too!

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  4. Ah! I didn’t read carefully. I didn’t note that the mayor came up after Al had greeted him. Was that obviously a chance encounter? Or might it be that they had a lunch date. I’m still happy, bottom line, that All was pleased.

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    • it was a chance encounter, the coach had been eating for some time by looking at his plate, the mayor had come into the pharmacy to pick up his medications or something, and then walking back to the lunch counter, he spotted the coach. he approached the coach in the same way we did, but they continued to talk as we moved to an empty seat

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    • i am probably too sensitive, but working with disability people for so many years, i have seen this so many times, looks, snide remarks, but when it is my brother, i look at is as personal

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      • The truth is, we all need training — not only attitude training, but behavior training. Like, for example, would a person in a wheelchair prefer that we bend down to his or her level, or remain standing.

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      • my point exactly Mona. I am so glad that you understand. I have to let Al be who he is. He held his own on this. I did apologize to the coach when leaving, for taking up his time while eating and told the coach that Al has always loved him as a coach

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  5. I’m thankful that “A big smile on Al’s face as we walked out the door and got into our car.” That is really what is important you know. The Lord will bless you and He knows the heart of the coach. So don’t burden yourself with this. The Lord has and will continue to bless your efforts. Lord bless.

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    • you are correct, i just hate it when other than so called normal people are treated differently. have seen this over an over with my experiences working with special needs. it is rude and shows the ignorance of the so called human

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  6. In my opinion, for what it is worth, Al was completely happy with seeing the person and knew who he was. It should have been left at that. I agree, the coach could have been more sensitive and given him the benefit of doubt, but he probably meets hundreds of people after a game. You need to butt out on this one.

    Walk daily with God at your side!

    Ed

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    • if you go back and reread it, you will see that i did not butt in. i remained quiet while Al talked to him, When we left, the coach saw us coming, and so I took the time to explain how Al admired him, and to apologize for Al interrupting his lunch.

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      • And if Al would have heard or saw you talking to the coach about him, I guess he would just smile at you.

        I read the entire piece three times before I commented. Sorry I upset you.

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      • the story says as we were leaving, we. Al was there. he started to talk to the coach again on the way out. i felt it was time to explain a little to the coach before Al chatted on again. i am sorry you didn’t understand my story. maybe next time..

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  7. I’m not sure why, but this reminds me of Forrest Gump’s charm (forgive me as obviously Al is not Forrest, but it’s an analogy as to how individuals treated those who are unique), and that saying of the most depressed people in the world are the ones who know too much. This is also likely why I don’t watch the news. I prefer not to know, whether I be like Al or Forrest, I delight in knowing less of people’s attitudes, not more. 😀

    Pink.

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  8. I had the same thing all the time when I took our Special Needs kids out in public…Some people understood, had compassion and responded “Like I wanted them to”…and then there were those who were “afraid”…”unsure”…”uncaring”…I feel it’s more of the fear of the unknown that makes people react like they do…The coach seemed to be wanting You to help him out…Maybe say who Al was…explain…Sometimes the least said is the better way…when not sure of a situation…Just have patience with those who have not been taught or learned about people with illnesses…Some day it might affect them and they will remember this incident…~mkg

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    • i generally do, by keeping my mouth shut tight. i think this is a story i should not have written. i was too personally involved maybe expecting the coach to remember Al

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  9. I used to work near the training ground for our local rugby team and knew lots of them. As in all walks of life some were far more friendly than other but there were a few who if you met them on match day at the ground were charming and sociable but did not appreciate being approached going about their ‘normal’ lives dont get me wrong they would be polite but not spend a second longer than neccesary talking to people. I can understand in one way after all who wants to be their job 24 hours a day but if they choose these sorts of professions they have to accept that it is part of it and maybe the coach could have handled the situation with a little more sensitivity

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    • Hi, I have nominated you for the very inspiring blogger award. we may be new friends, but I have enjoyed your comments already so much. Congrats to you my friend

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  10. Unfortunately much of what is written in the newspapers is hype, and usually not true. It is God’s blessing that Al’s enthusiasm kept him from seeing the real person the coach showed you. You know friendliness is a lost art form in this day and age. Seems people are getting more self-involved and less friendly in their attitudes and actions. It really makes me long for Heaven even more. I’m so use to how people are in the countryside, where farmers greet people they don’t know with a wave of the hand just to be friendly. Where people know everyone in town and care about them…at least that is the way it was in the countryside and little towns in Missouri.

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    • that is the way it is here if you can get out of the city. i was raised in the country, and this is probably part of my problem. i have been down today. bad remarks and just down period. i think i m tired and exhausted. i took a walk tonight which helped. i hate feeling this way and am praying harder that God lifts me back up

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      • You sound like you need a big rest. If you can find someone to care for Al, you should take a ride on one of those old trains where they take you to another town to have dinner, and shop, and then a ride back to where the trip began. I know they offer one down in French Lick, Indiana from the train museum to a town 10 miles away and then back. It would do you some good just to have a wonderful mini vacation with a friend or by yourself. You sure do deserve it.

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  11. Angel Terry, I have versions of that happen too . . .and it’s hard sometimes to let them keep thinking someone is their “friend” when we know that isn’t quite how it is. You did good . .. did the best you could to try to get Al the mutual recognition he deserves. So thankful Al was okay with it all, and not hurt by the jerk . . .oh, I mean coach. 😉 love and prayers!

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    • haha that was funny, the last sentence. yes, Al was not hurt. all he could talk about was the coach the coach, he shook my hand!!! he didn’t understand anything else. God protects him

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  12. Terry, I think sometimes people who are not accustomed to dealing with special needs people have no idea how to act around them. They don’t know what to say. They feel awkward and that makes them uncomfortable. They may even be afraid to get involved. And people don’t have much patience these days for anything, especially things and people they don’t know how to deal with. I have seen a husband pushing his wife in a wheelchair in a store. The wife wants to buy something but the clerk speaks only to the husband, asking questions of him over the wife’s head that she should be asking the wife. It’s as if they assume because someone is in a wheelchair or otherwise handicapped that they are also mentally incapable of understanding or carrying on a conversation. They simply don’t know how to handle the situation, squirm a bit and try to get out of it as fast as possible.

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    • i have seen that also and they also do it with Al, did someone say somewhere that a special needs person is deaf??? i don’t think so. show them some respect!! they could be that person one day themselves……..thanks success

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  13. Terry, I think maybe you and your followers are being called to help instruct folks on how to put respect for everyone into practice. For example, my previous question what kind of posture is best for speaking with respect to someone in a wheelchair. I know the first answer is to ask people.

    As for me, the respect I’d like to talk about has to do with the treatment of the elderly. My parents, for example, were of a generation where everyone except close friends and family addressed them as Mr. and Mrs. Gustafson, The children in the neighborhood addressed them that way. My children addressed the folks in our neighborhood that way. But when my mother and dad were in the nursing home, they were instantly infantilized, spoken to like children, and addressed by first name. At one point I suggested to the attendant that my father was accustomed to being called “Mr. Gustafson,” and I felt it inappropriate for him to be called “Carl.” “But they like us to use first names,” she said. Notice two things there. (1) as if all the elderly were alike, and (2) an assumption made without asking.

    Let me go on with my mother’s experience when the home called in a psychiatrist for an evaluation. Younger than my mother, even younger than I at the time, he began the interview by SHOUTING at her, “Hello, Jennie. I’m Dr. X,” to which my mother responded “Good afternoon, Dr. X, and I am not deaf. To that he SHOUTED, “How are you feeling today?” at which point i responded, “My mother isn’t deaf.” I don’t remember what his next comment was, but I do remember it was SHOUTED. I’m happy to report that the next day when I visited, I learned that my mother had fired him. Notice the points in that conversation. (1) He addressed himself by title, demeaning my mother by using her first name. What might he have done? He might have asked her, “Would you prefer that I call you “Mrs. Gustafson?” or “Jennie.” That would have been respectful. (2) He made the assumptions that all elderly folks are deaf. I guess it’s OK to start that way, though I think it would have been more respectful to speak in a normal voice and then ask, “Am I speaking clearly enough?” (3) He was not listening when she told him she wasn’t deaf — or even when I told him she wasn’t deaf. He had his agenda and hers didn’t matter much. Lesson? Focus on the needs of the person with whom you are conversing.

    So, as for this lesson, the bottom line is respect, and the best way to show respect is to recognize that people cannot be put into a general category. We are individuals, and the best way to learn about us it to ask and listen.

    I guess this isn’t much help in dealing with Al’s situation, except that it is one story about the importance of respecting all people as individuals. (including, maybe, the coach.)

    Terry, are you up to making a collection of these stories and recommendations. You are a writer who could really provide a gift to folks with a kind of collection book of instructions on how to show respect. You are most welcome to quote my story if you like.

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    • thank you Mona. I got a lot out of your comment. I have seen things i have done wrong or not acted in the way i should have. i can do nothing now but sit here and cry because i want everyone else to be respectful to Al and love him as much as I do, and this is a fairy dream that will not come true. i do believe in respect so much. i put too much pressure on the coach in my own mind, wanting him to remember Al and being happy that Al thought so highly of him. This is not reality, this is wants. Thank yo Mona. I am standing up and brushing myself off, not letting myself quit blogging. I blog from my heart, and sometimes this is not a good thing.

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    • Mona, I remember addressing the adults in the neighborhood by Mr. or Mrs. When I got past a certain age it was OK, for most of them, to address them by their first names – except for some who were quite old. I think people today have forgotten what the word ‘respect’ even means. It might as well have been taken out of the dictionary. But it is one thing that everyone deserves from others. As for that doctor, he obviously had his own agenda and didn’t care to be taken off of the course he had set. He certainly had no respect for his patients and had no intention of listening to what your mother had to say. It seems to me that he should have chosen a different career where he didn’t have to deal with people.

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      • Or maybe that doctor had been taught that all old folks are deaf and it is a courtesy to speak loudly to them, just as the caretakers in the nursing home had probably been taught that all their patients like to be addressed by their first names.

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      • That’s possible, Mona. But he was still discourteous in ignoring you both when you told him your mother wasn’t deaf. And you are right, you can’t put everyone in the same category. Some people, like your parents, appreciate being called by their last names. Personally, I do not like being called “Miss Stephenson” and would much rather be called just plain “Diane”. On the other hand, through the years I have often been called “Di”, and I do not like that. So we all have our preferences and I think it is only right that others respect that once they know.

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      • Back in the 60s and 70s I actually lost two titles. Until the turmoil (which I supported) of the 60s, I was Dr. Affinito to my students. That was so long ago I can hardly remember. I’ve been Mona to students and clients alike for a long time now. And Mrs. went the the way of Ms. before I started asking people not to use any titles — just my name. Sometimes some sources insist on having a title, in which case I get to choose what I want to use, always with a degree of annoyance. As you said, people have their preferences. And yes, I thoroughly agree the Dr. should have listened the first time he was told my mother wasn’t deaf. Such deafness on his part is not a good quality in anyone, but especially not in a therapist. The interesting thing is that “kids” from the neighborhood where my children grew up — now in their 50s — still call me Mrs. A. I kind of like that.

        What I like best about my mother’s story is that she fired him!

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      • me too, and that alone proves that age is only a number!!! she is still alert and can hear and think. i don’t know what makes people think that a certain age means useless. i would think that hearing Mrs. A now, is a reminder of how much u meant to them, and that they still remember you with fond memories

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