I am Tom Nardone. I work at the Home Depot in the electrical dept. Having been there for 17 years, I have a wide array of skill sets and therefore I am one of the default people who are called upon to answer questions not known by some of the junior associates. You know because… I’m awesome.
Near the beginning of April I was called to the front of the store and asked to speak with a lady named Betty. She explained to me that the girl she was with, was her grand-daughter and her name was Edie.
They were out looking for a stop-sign because Edie desired to have one hanging on the wall in her room. I explained to her we did not carry them and was not sure where they could get this anywhere else.
I noticed that this made Edie upset and I could tell from her movements and mannerisms she was Autistic. Home Depot is, and has been for years very involved in “Autism Awareness”. This was the beginning of April which is Autism Awareness month so I decided I would take a project upon myself and make a difference in the life of another. I asked Edie, “Edie what if I was to make a stop sign for you?” she smiled very big and I was sure I would figure out how to do this for her.
I wanted to make the sign very big. It was 4 feet square and the first thing I did was to cut out the octagon. This was a challenge but I got it done because you know, Tom Nardone.
I painted it red but I was unsure at my ability to properly write out the letters. I enlisted the help of a coworker who runs the flooring dept. She got the letters traced out and began to paint them.
I tried to get in touch with Betty (Edie’s grandmother) but no matter how many times I called I was unsuccessful. I told Chris don’t worry about finishing because I had not heard back from her in a few days and I was not sure I would. A week went by then two and I had all but given up on it. I stored the unfinished sign and put it out of my head. I was very disappointed. I thought maybe she did not really want it and seeing my excitement, she just could not bring herself to tell me so.
I managed to finish the letters and the trim and it was ready.
Edie showed up with her parents and was so excited she kept asking if she could see it. I took her and her parents and her sister to the back of the store and asked them to wait while I went to get her brand new stop sign, and brought it out and put it in front of her. The look on her face was worth it all. She was so excited she seemed not to know how to behave. She agreed to have her picture taken with me. That was my favorite part.
I suppose no one would have thought any less of me if I had a month ago simply explained that I did not know where to find a stop sign. If I had simply asked them to check the internet which is quickly becoming the most common answer when people don’t know where to get things.
Rarely in our lives do opportunities present themselves and just as rare are our ability to see them as such. I am unaware of how many I have missed, but I am quite aware of those I have seized.
Edie is a lovely girl and I do not see as a seized opportunity, but I do see the both of us as the beneficiaries of an opportunity not lost.
I am Tom Nardone, and you are welcome.