The last place you want to hear a loud thud is in the middle of an Apple Store, a place full of thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of equipment, but that’s the sound that silenced a store full of employees and shoppers last Thursday.
James Rink, a 9-year-old boy with autism was running full speed without realizing he was headed straight towards the glass wall at the Apple store in Green Hills. The crash threw him to the floor and his mother ran over next to him as everyone turned to see what happened.
“I thought, ‘There’s going to be a pile of blood; he just cracked his skull open,” said the 50-year-old mom, LynnMarie Rink.
He was a little dizzy, confused, but no blood. After a few moments James sat up in front of a crowd of people. His mom was relieved that he was fine and now trying to keep it together as the rest of the store looked on. That’s when Andrew Wall, a store employee, quietly sat down next to them.
“Are you OK?” he asked. “What can I do for you?”
Rink asked if they could just finish shopping for an iPad and if there was any way they could do it from the floor. She knew that getting up and moving around would upset him and she wanted her son as comfortable as possible.
The mom brought a protective case that she wanted put on a new iPad before she handed it to her son. Wall took the case to the back and put it on the new iPad before handing it to the boy.
Wall even sat down next to James on the floor to show the boy how to use his new iPad.
“As a special needs parent, you don’t know what you’re going to encounter,” she said.
“Just meet me right where I am. Don’t make me stand up or stand out. We know we’re not normal but we try to be. And he just sat on the floor with us.”
“I began working at Apple in hopes of having fulfilling moments like this. My hopes are to work within the realm of youth counseling. Thanks again for making my day!”
Here’s Rink’s Facebook post:
“Dear Apple Store, Green Hills,
I’m writing to let you know how great your employee (pictured in this photo) was to me and my son, James, yesterday when we came to the store to buy a new iPad.
When James was about three-years-old we bought him his first iPad. It turned out to be more than a device to watch videos. It became a way to help James communicate.
Because James was born with Down Syndrome, and at six-years-old was diagnosed with Autism, we use his iPad everyday as a learning tool. Sadly, even with a life-proof cover, after seven years of use, James’ first iPad was no longer working. We had replaced the screen several times and it just kept breaking. It was obviously time for a new one!
I had lunch with a dear friend, who noticed the ‘state’ of my iPhone 5. I told her that it was covered in snot, and limping along, not because of me, but because of James. (My phone became the replacement to his iPad.)
To make a long story a bit shorter, that friend happens to be on the board of a charitable organization, Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Trail Ride, who graciously offered to provide James with a much needed new iPad.
On Thursday, James and I made our way to the Apple Store in Green Hills. While looking at the iPads James must have seen something that sparked his interest in the mall, and he took off running full speed out the door. The problem was he wasn’t at the door, but at the clear glass wall. He slammed into the wall full force which knocked him over. The entire store gasped as they heard the sound of James’ head hitting the glass and then the floor.
I ran to him and tried to comfort him. James has a very high tolerance for pain, so his tears and ‘fat lip’ were brief. Mine however were not. As I hugged him sitting on the floor your employee came over and sat down next to me. He asked if he was okay and if there was anything he could do. I think it was at this point that he realized James had special needs.
‘I think we’re gonna be okay,’ I said. ‘But it looks like he’s gonna have quite a goose egg on his forehead.’ Your employee asked, ‘What can I do for you?’ (I wanted to ask for a margarita or a donut but I was pretty sure they didn’t have any of those in that secret back room.) I said, ‘Well, we actually came here today to buy an iPad which was donated to James, but if we’re going to proceed would you be willing to sell it to us and set it up… down here on the floor?’
And so he did. Your awesome employee sat with James on the floor of the store and set up the new iPad. There are no words to accurately describe how grateful I am that he took the time to ‘meet us right where we were.’ He didn’t have to sit down on the floor with us. He could have easily waited for us to stand. Could have easily waited for us to come back another day. But he hung out with us in the midst of our pain. He even got a fist bump from James, and I snapped this photo.
Life is a learning journey. And I walked away from this experience with the reminder to always meet people where they are at. It’s so easy to be so focused on our own mission or plan (or sale) that we fail to see what people really need. I long to be better at this. I long to not be so self-absorbed that I never miss an opportunity to love exactly like someone needs in the moment.
Thank you to Apple Store, your employee, and the Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust for being a part of our never-dull lives.
In the emotion of the day I can’t remember his name, but I’m hoping someone will see this and get this “Thank you” to him! (Until the snow clears and I can get there myself! Which in Nashville could be weeks! ha)
P.S. And a big thank you to Apple for making products that are changing the lives of special needs kids!”