by Suzanne Wanous

I know it is WAY too early for this classical holiday song, but the phrase comes to mind while I am shopping. I find myself people-watching while I am out. I love to see the variety of individuals that make up my community. I watch families with young children navigate the toy section, young girls in the make-up aisle checking shades of concealer, teenagers teasing each other – pushing and laughing. Recently, I noticed one of our very own DSPs in action with an individual he supports. A thought struck me: How does this person represent Hammer while out in the community? So I watched…

Moving slowly, they made their way through the produce department – she, pushing the cart; he, walking along talking about what they would buy. I paused behind them as he picked out fruit for the Hammer house. Efficiently selecting apples, tying up the bag and placing it in the cart, he pressed forward. She didn’t move. A thought came to me: she wants to pick out an apple. Her words didn’tAppleCart say so, but somehow I knew. I wondered if he would ignore the little signal and urge her forward, mindful of the task at hand. But he stopped and turned around. Catching her small resistance, he pointed to the bin as an inquiry. Her smile showed that we were right. Picking one up, she looked up as in question. He nodded but she laughed as she rejected it. This repeated over and over as one apple after another was examined. Who knew there were so many imperfect apples? He smiled with her; his face calm, showing no sign of impatience. Finally! The perfect one. He reached for a bag to hold her chosen fruit. As they walked away she was carrying her apple, no longer interested in pushing the cart.

It was then that I realized my original thought was flawed. While it is important for us to represent Hammer while out in the community, what is really important are these critical skills that those who serve bring to their job each day – at home and in the public. It is the ability to listen to words and actions – to respond in the moment to thoughts and ideas – honoring the individuals we serve. That is what is priceless in this field.

What did his actions mean to her that day? She can’t tell us. Perhaps she was just enjoying a moment at the store. What did his actions mean to me? I saw a man taking the time with an individual. He showed me that her communication was important, her opinion mattered and that there was time to take care of her interests in the midst of his everyday errand. Next time you are in the midst of your day, thick into everyday errands, remember this: Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?