Shopping Carts helping the Hurricane…

shopping cartsI received a text from a friend and we have lots in common because we both have boys with autism.  So, yes we can relate on so many topics!  He shared his story of how his son worked hard during the hurricane doing the job that most would snub their noses to- collecting shopping carts and making them available for the customers at this very popular grocery store….it touched me and it led me to write this fictional story to show that every job matters WHEN we have the attitude, the right attitude, as you say, “I am working as if I am working for you Lord.”  AND even when you have autism, you can be used in a mighty way for Christ work on earth…. enjoy!

Allen, now late teens, had to be the most excited employee at the Kroger store on the busiest street in this mid- size city.  He always came in with the right attitude – I am here to work!  When the remains of the hurricane hit this city, a huge rainstorm moved in with treacherous winds to accompany it.  This night at work, the co-manager went around asking some clerks if they would be willing to help the grocery carts because most of them were still in the parking lot from the Friday afternoon rush.  Now, due to the winds, they were blowing away in every direction.  Clerk after clerk made excuse….then the co-manger came upon Allen and asked if he would be willing to collect the carts.  In the next aisle over, Allen overheard two co-workers say, “Good he is going to let the dude with autism do it.”  Allen heard the remarks and remembers time after time when he would hear those same words from so many people….”Oh, don’t pay him any attention, he has autism.”  Allen, feeling a little frightened from the storm, pushed his shoulders back as he heard a small still voice say, “Work as if you are working for me.”  Allen said, “Yes, sir, let me grab a raincoat from the backroom and I will go get them Sir.”  As the co-manager passed several other co-workers who had made the excuses not to go outside in the storm, he gave each of them a dirty look.

Allen spent over one hour back and forth from the parking lot to the foyer at the Kroger doing his best to get each one returned.  Inside his raincoat he had a towel and he would quickly pull the towel out and wipe down the handles of each cart before quickly rushing back outside.  Fierce winds almost knocked him down a few times and some of the carts were hard to handle, but with all his strength, he got everyone of them back into the store.

As he was getting the last set of carts back inside, he quickly began wiping each handle  down again.  Then he noticed his co-manager rushing out into the foyer with an urgent look in his eyes.  He announced, “I am so grateful you got these carts in because I was just called from corporate office that our Kroger is donating fifty carts to the hurricane relief efforts to use to get the grocery/ water around to the needy families.”  Shortly after, the team arrived to pick up the carts and the man in charge immediately noticed something and asked the co-manager, “I thought you said these carts just came in from the outside storm?”  The co-manager looked confused and replied, “Yes, Sir, they did.  Is something wrong?”  The man in charge said, “Well, each of these carts are completely dry.  How could they have dried so fast?”  The co-manger replied, “I am not sure.  They were literally brought in just before you pulled up.”  The man in charge of transporting the carts replied, “I guess an angel wiped them down for us.”  Then they loaded the carts in the few moments of rain that had seized falling from the sky.

The co-manager made his way to the back room where he saw Allen completely drenched and exhausted.  As Allen took off his raincoat and turned around, the co-manger noticed a towel so wet that every ounce of Allen’s clothes were drenched too.  He said aloud, “He is the angel you sent to dry the carts!”  He asked Allen, “Allen how did you manage to dry every cart that came inside?”  Allen replied, “Oh, I didn’t Sir, I just wiped each handle because I didn’t want the customers to get wet like I am ’cause it sure is cold in here.”  They both laughed and Allen was glad that it was time to end his long day at work.

When the shopping carts from several grocery stores in the local area arrived in the devastated town, the volunteers began unloading them and each of them noticed the same thing.  There was only one set of fifty shopping carts that were completely dry.  All the other shopping carts had to be wiped down.  This became the talk among the volunteers.  A family walked up ready to receive their shopping cart and one of the volunteers announced, “Go ahead and take one of these because they are completely dry.  We need to wipe dry the others ones that just came off the truck.”  The woman and her son began to pull away a cart and she looked back and said, “Thank you.  Jesus knew I needed this bit of good news today.  See, my son has severe autism and after these storms he is terrified of water.  Seeing any bit of water right now can make him have a meltdown.”  The volunteer lady said, “Well, I guess an angel dried this shopping cart because he knew you needed one so your son would not be afraid.”  As the boy with severe autism extended the biggest smile, he said, “I like angels.”  This made the volunteer’s day as they walked away ready to receive the much needed food and other supplies to start a new chapter of their lives.

Back at the local Kroger, in time, Allen received recognition for this night that was the saving grace for so many needy families… and he stood up a little taller and announced, “I have autism.  I am not afraid of anything.  I will do it ’cause Jesus always helps me.” And something else happened.  Allen was proud to go out in the rain and collect the carts and every time he brought them in, each and every handle was completely dry!  Allen would whisper before heading out in the rain again, “I like angels!”…..

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