I drove to the Old Stone Arch Trail this afternoon for a long walk and some IPhone photos. Much cooler weather than my walk earlier this week: 72 degrees vs. 92 degrees. It was like a walk in the park. Or the trail.
I began thinking about a couple of conversations I’ve had recently that I thought were unusual enough to write down for safekeeping. One happened in Walmart, back in the Electronics Dept. where I always check the $5 DVD bin for new movies. Up until recently, the DVDs were thrown helter-skelter into the bin, all jumbled together and piled on top of one another. But then, about a month ago, someone started arranging them neatly in rows, like a line of books in a library. I wondered who the employee was that was so meticulous in their work.
As I was scanning the movies, a young masked employee walked up to me and asked, “Can I help you find anything?”
I thought it was an odd question, since I was leaning over the movie bin and not wandering the aisles with a confused look on my face. I responded, “No, just looking for a movie. I see you have some new titles”. He pointed and said, “We have some more $5 movies back there”.
I could tell he wanted to talk, so I followed along as he showed me the other $5 movies among the shelves that held the new releases, or the family films, or the animated features. I was curious why the $5 movies weren’t all in the movie bin. He said, “It depends on the bar code. Different bar code, different location. I’ll show you.” He unholstered a small electronic device from his belt, picked up a movie, and scanned the bar code. He looked at the screen for a long moment, then said, “Actually, this one is in the wrong location.”
I was happy to be wearing a mask, because I didn’t want him to see me grinning at his seriousness, but then his seriousness became fascinating as we started discussing the Batman movies on the shelf in front of us. He was like a Batman encyclopedia, telling me about the original name of the Joker (the ‘Red’ something?) and about an online discussion of “Who came first, Batman or the Joker?”
It was starting to add up: the neatly-arranged movie bin, the Batman fixation... I tried one more test: I looked him directly in the eyes as he was talking. He made eye contact for two seconds and quickly looked away. Bingo. He’s on the autism spectrum, and he’s found a job where his particular set of skills are put to good use. I’m looking forward to talking to him again on my next shopping trip.
The other conversation happened at the quarry lakes in Atlantic. A mom and her very young daughter (maybe 5-years-old) were walking towards me. The little girl was carefully scanning the grass alongside the trail, with her head swiveling around and a look of concern on her face. When they were still about 40 feet distant from me, the little girl looked at me and yelled:
DO YOU KNOW WHAT A SNAKE IS?
Well, I assumed she was worried about seeing a snake, so I replied, “Yes, but I haven’t seen any today!” That seemed to reassure her, and she smiled as we passed each other. It was kind of a heartwarming encounter.
Anyway, it was a beautiful day today and I got some semi-good photos.