Yesterday while at the local drug store retrieving my many prescriptions I had another experience. This time with a mentally challenged individual. She was about 5'2" tall and of slight build. She was with her mother who happened to be at the counter ahead of me discussing some of the meds she was there picking up. There were several people in line behind me. This gal turned around and smiled at me and I, of course, smiled back. She gave me a robust 'hello' and I answered in return and asked how she was. She then said 'Ho ho ho', which made me chuckle and I asked her if she was practicing being Santa since her coat was a bright, fuzzy red one and resembled Santa's suit. She flashed me another huge smile and said yes and the smile was immediately followed by an enormous belch! She covered her mouth and looked very surprised and said 'scuse me'! I chuckled again.............I couldn't help it. She just seemed so surprised that such a huge belch had come out of her mouth.
I continued to wait in line while her mother spoke with the pharmacist and others behind me were getting impatient. This young woman proceeded to speak with me more. What she said didn't always follow any kind of pattern or thought process, but she kept smiling anyway and I kept up a simple yet pleasant conversation with her. I heard some one a few people back make a comment that her mother should teach her not to speak to strangers. I found this offensive. We were in a small local business and most people at least recognize others by sight if not by name. I turned around and watched the gal who made the comment turn a little pinkish in the face, and I thought GOOD! This young gal who began the conversation with me was probably no more than 5 or 6 mentally and I can't count the number of times I have spoken with children of this age while waiting in line at grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores and the like. No one has ever mentioned in those circumstances that the child's' mother should teach them not to speak with strangers. I feel the comment was made because the people behind me in line were in a hurry and most likely didn't want to listen to what they perceived to be a handicapped person conversing with anyone else.
When her mother turned after finishing her business with the pharmacist, she smiled at me and said thank you for entertaining her. I said no thanks were needed and the gal told me I was a 'good girl' and gave me a big hug as she turned to leave with her mom. How little effort it took on my part to make this gal feel comfortable and like she belonged. I just wish more people would take the time to do this. And this made me think of the veteran from the day before and I wondered once again what is wrong with today's society that we can't all take the time to make a stranger feel good about themselves. Seems the longer I live, the more I see that needs to be fixed.