Dear Whole Foods: I was having my usual tiresome day driving my children around from store to store preparing for the big day.
Back to school couldn’t be more exciting. Uniforms, pencils, pens, art supplies, snacks, expensive requests of unnecessary wants and desires, that leave a gigantic whole in my wallet. The only thought getting me through the day, was the thought of ending if off with a Whole Foods freshly grilled cheese sandwich with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and mushrooms with french fries and cheese curd, hold the gravy. Yup,my ASD child is rubbing off on me – I am an official Autism Carb Mommy.
Exhausted, we headed to Whole Foods at approximately 4:00 pm for a much needed lunch. Needless to say, the boys were extremely hungry. Niam ran up the stairs like a bullet from the underground parking lot to the Whole Foods Gourmet Cafeteria. I tried to catch up with him. Not possible these days, I am older , slower and greying. Not that greying has any correlation to being slow, it just irritates me I don’t have time to do my roots.
I reached upstairs and to my surprise Niam was ordering his food. I stopped in my tracks and decided to watch from the distance as Niam tried to order his lunch in broken unclear sentences. What I say made me fall off my chair. The pretty angel across the counter from him was patiently writing down his order. It was obvious to her Niam has challenges, yet she calmly picked up her pencil and took his order. Niam said Grilled Cheese Sandwich. She asked what type of cheese? When she saw he could not answer the question, she promptly proceeded to give him options slowly, cheddar or swiss? Brown bread or white bread. She was kind and loving trying to understand him without making him feel self conscious.
What I loved the most, is she took his order even though Niam was not accompanied by an adult. There was no way she knew if Niam was accompanied by an adult, if he had money or even if he knew how to pay. She had not seen me watching from the distance. She carried on and gave him the utmost respect.
I later came to know the pretty angel’s name is Apoorva. She is a exemplary example of how all human beings should be, treat others and be non judgemental. Without even knowing, you have treated my son like a person, showed compassion and understanding. From knowing you for only a short few minutes you may think all persons are like you, unfortunately, it pains me to say this is not true. Niam has had horrible experiences in the past.
I am happy he had a beautiful experience to replace all the negative experiences in his life.
It does not end here. I reached the desk and Apoorva went over the order with me without ignoring my son. After reconfirming with me, she looked at Niam to reconfirm with him as if not to belittle him or, make him feel he said the wrong answers. She took my name for the order. Niam had walked away by this time. She waited patiently, got his attention and asked him for his name, replacing mine with his name. She took her time and made him feel good.
I ask you parents out there – What Is This Experience Worth?
Niam has had many challenges before at dining establishments ordering food, remember this controversial blog.
And the more crazy follow up to this story.
This organization can certainly learn from Whole Foods. In fact, many establishments can learn from Whole Foods.
Besides thank you from the bottom of my heart I am at a loss of words. My heart is filled with happiness. I will sleep well tonight knowing persons like Apoorva exist. I have thought about you all day and it has prompted this blog.
To Whole Foods, you can definitely teach a few other businesses what the word customer service means in today’s world. The definition of Customer Service has to be expanded as the population ages and more persons are diagnosed with disabilities. I often felt I was fighting a battle alone trying to make my point. Today I feel uplifted. Not only is someone else thinking what I am thinking, they are doing it.
As a family we look forward to our ritual weekly lunch at Whole Foods.
Apoorva, Niam looks forward to seeing you again!
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