Jul 15, 2013 1 Share

At Your Service

Close-up of waiter putting plate of nachos on table.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Cameron has had success in finding a summer employment opportunity. In my previous column, Cameron had been given one interview out of the four applications I filed on his behalf. That interview did not result in a job. I guess my follow-up with the manager wasn’t as reassuring as I had hoped. Or, maybe the temporary nature of Cameron’s availability was less than desirable. Regardless of the reason, Cameron has found another opportunity. And I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Cameron’s grandfather is the hero in this case. I had informed my dad of my intentions to find work for Cameron for the four weeks we would be on my father’s home turf, and he laid the ground work prior to our arrival. He took Cameron’s resume around to a few local restaurants, knowing full well the type of environment that would be ideal. My dad knows the ins and outs of Cameron as well as I do, as they always spend special one-on-one time together whenever we visit. Dad says his relationship with Cameron is successful because he has no expectations of Cameron. Cameron can just be himself, and as long as there is putt-putt, bowling, and pizza in the mix, Cameron is happy.

After my futile day of online application completions, my dad stepped in and offered to take Cameron around. They left the house, and hadn’t been gone 20 minutes when I received a call. Cameron had a job as a busboy and would start working the next day from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. That was the extent of the details given. No one was sure if the position was an internship or paid employment, but as I’ve said before, it’s all about the experience right now. Wages are not the primary concern.

Cameron asked me to take him to work on the first day, so that I could help determine the details of his employment with the restaurant owner. The owner wasn’t there when we arrived, and when I picked him up, she was on the phone. She did tell him to come back the day after next, and he was quick to ask if employees were allowed to eat at the restaurant. To Cameron’s relief, she said he could eat for free. (Any position in which Cameron is allowed free food, should not be considered unpaid.)

Cameron is not washing dishes in his new position. He’s had two days on the job so far, and each day he has come home discussing the new tasks he has been given. It’s a Mexican restaurant, so he’s responsible for taking chips and salsa to the tables, along with beverages and refills for both. Therefore, he has much more customer interaction than he’s previously had. He was excited to tell me on the second day that he had “sweeped” the floors and filled little containers with salsa for the to-go orders. It’s impossible to ignore the pride he feels in being helpful. Cameron fully understands the importance of work experience, and he’s picked up the understanding with little influence from me. It has been intuitive to him.

It took Cameron and his grandfather 20 minutes (including travel time) to succeed in finding a solution to “What’s Cameron going to do this summer?” If only all of life’s solutions came to Cameron this easily. But, I must say, in this case, it was nice to have a solution present itself without my constant attention.

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yay! go, cameron!

Thanks so much for your article.  I have a 17 year old with "mid functioning" autism and hearing about your experience with Cameron was very inspiring!