Sid Edwards was only expecting to pick up a few items Sunday at Rouses Market on Drusilla Lane. Instead, he got what he calls a miracle.
Now, a Rouses employee’s kindness to Edwards’ autistic son has gone viral locally online.
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As Edwards and his son, Jack Ryan, 17, walked through the dairy aisle, they encountered dairy assistant Jordan Taylor, 20, who was stocking bottled orange juice. Jack Ryan became transfixed. Taylor noticed, and Jack Ryan began pointing at the crate containing the juice bottles.
Taylor thought Jack Ryan wanted a bottle and gave him one, which he put in the grocery basket and kept looking at the crate, Edwards said.
“The guy said, ‘Do you want to help me?” Edwards said. “He’s not super verbal. ‘Help me’ — he repeated the guy. So, he goes, ‘Come on around.’”
What tipped Taylor off?
“Just the way he looked,” Taylor said. “He was looking very amazed, like one day he wished he could do it. So, I just wanted to give him the experience of doing it with me.”
Taylor let Jack Ryan stock the cooler with orange juice for about 10 minutes, and Edward decided that was enough and led his son down another aisle. But Jack Ryan kept pulling his dad back toward the dairy aisle, where Taylor was still working. Jack Ryan helped Taylor again and returned a third time to worked together. Altogether, they stocked the cooler for about a half-hour, Edwards said.
“The guy’s patience and time with Jack Ryan was just beautiful,” said Edwards, who is head football coach at Central High School. “He talked to him. He encouraged him. He worked with him.”
Edwards said he asked Taylor if he could video them. Taylor agreed, and Jack Ryan’s sister, Delaney Alwosaibi, posted it to her personal Facebook page. By early Tuesday afternoon, the post had received more than 212,000 views, Alwosaibi said. More than 8,000 Facebook users had given it “likes” or other positive feedback, and 4,400 had shared it to their own pages.
“The response was just overwhelming,” Alwosaibi said. “I think it’s because it was such a genuine moment. It’s raw. It wasn’t set up or anything. Jordan didn’t do that because he thought my dad would pull out the camera and film it. My dad just pulled out the camera to film it to send it to me and my brother.”
In the video, Edwards calls it a miracle. What made it so, he said, was partly because Jack Ryan almost never devotes his attention so long. Also, strangers often aren't as welcoming to his son.
“Many times with an autistic kid, especially the younger kids, when you go out in public, people don’t understand,” Edwards said. “This guy reached out. That’s what I think is special. In a world where our kids don’t fit in, here was a guy out of nowhere that made him fit for that brief moment.”
Taylor said he wasn’t worried that something might go wrong.
“It’s a very friendly environment around here, and the managers, they’re very understanding,” he said.
Ali Rouse Royster, one of the supermarket chain’s owners, said he made the right call.
“As much as we can be nice and be helpful, that’s what we’re here for,” Royster said.