On Wednesday, Ryan and I met Kim McCollister, the ASDS (Associate Support Department Supervisor) at the Home Depot #6548 in Keller, Texas. Kim was gracious enough to agree to take Ryan and me on a behind the scenes tour of Ryan’s “HALLMARK” favorite store.
We had no idea that Ryan liked Home Depot so much. Before we moved from California, when his open communication began taking off, when he was asked what he wanted to do, he answered GO TO A REPAIR STORE. So Reisa (our beloved babysitter in California) and I took turns taking him on outings to different repair stores in the area. He always gravitated towards Home Depot and began to mention it by name when spelling. If you remember, Ryan has shown his strong interest in repairs in this post when he noticed right away about his door hinge not being perfect.
We got to Home Depot a little before our scheduled tour at 2pm, so Ryan and I used the restroom in the back of the store before starting. On the way, I noticed an employee who was helping out moving some product in the store. For some reason, I thought that it might be Kim. Anyway, we made our way back to the customer service desk where we met Tami. She was kind to us and made a phone call to let Kim know that we had arrived. She and Ryan had a brief conversation and he really gravitated towards her. He kept hugging her and smelling her.
Kim arrived and Ryan greeted her with his board. She was the employee that I saw and she had noticed us too as we were leaving the restroom! She introduced herself and told him that she had an apron and a tape measure for him. His face lit up (really!) and he spelled MEANINGFUL TO ME TO HAVE AN APRON. I asked him if he thought that he would be able to wear it as his sensory issues often get in the way of wearing anything out of the ordinary. His reply MOM I REALLY WANT TO WEAR IT. So I put it on him and he was pleased. I was surprised that he did not try to take it off right away.
Kim, Ryan, and Tami!
And he loved the tape measure (which proved to be challenging during the tour.)
We started in the area where the trucks unload the product. It was staged on pallets and we met a few employees who worked in the area including a woman named Lesli. Ryan spelled for them too and asked DO YOU LIKE WORKING HERE? All of them indicated that they did. Lesli showed us the Hazmat area and then we continued on through the store.
Ryan spelling in the staging area.
We went to Kim’s office and then that is where we met Kyler Klopfenstein, the store manager. Ryan spelled briefly with him and he spelled I WANT TO WORK HERE WHEN I GROW UP. Kyler thought that was great and indicated it would be possible. We learned that Kyler started working at Home Depot at 18 and worked his way up to managing stores, which he has been doing for several years now.
We walked around some more and met a few more employees along the way. Kim asked Ryan if he wanted to check out a particular area.
HOW ABOUT HARDWARE?
So we checked it out. We then met David, who works in the windows and door installation area. Ryan again asked him DO YOU LIKE WORKING HERE? David’s reply was consistent with all of the others that in fact he did enjoy it.
As we were walking around the store, Ryan was fiddling with the tape measure. He was sort of whipping it around and it was making me nervous. I explained to him that he needed to be careful and not swing it around so much.
I AM BEING CAREFUL MOM. I CAN HANDLE IT.
I still was not so sure. He was so infatuated with it that he was having difficulty spelling with the board at times. I ended up telling him that for everyone’s safety that I was putting it in my purse until we got home.
Kim asked Ryan again if there were other areas of interest.
MOSTLY WANT TO KNOW THE STORIES OF EMPLOYEES.
We met back up with David and one other employee named JC. Ryan sat down and we had a short conversation with them. I explained to them about Ryan’s interest in repairs and I bragged about how he had noticed the door hinge of his room. They were impressed.
Ryan holding court.
I then asked Ryan if there were any more repairs or things that need improvement around our home.
MY CLOSET DOOR NEEDS TO BE FIXED.
“Okay. I didn’t realize that. Anything else?”
THE LANDSCAPE NEEDS WORK.
“Really? Where do you think it needs work?”
IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE.
For the record, he is right as it could use some weeding and the front flowers have all died.
We then walked to the middle of the store and met up with Lesli again. She noticed that Ryan was very interested in checking out the carpets and rugs. She told him that she knew where the softest carpets were. She had us follow her.
Our last stop was the break room. We met several employees there and spoke to them for a bit. We learned that most of the employees had been working at Home Depot for a long time. The employee who was the “newest” had been working their for 3 years. That really said something to me. It was very evident that the employees liked their jobs and were treated well by the management. Kim was very good about introducing us to every employee by name. We checked out the bulletin boards in the break room and then saw the training room with a few computers. Kim explained that all Home Depot new hires do 20 to 30 hours of computer work and then they get training on the floor too. I asked Ryan his thoughts.
NOT SURE IF I CAN DO IT BECAUSE COMPUTERS ARE HARD FOR ME.
I explained to him that we worked very hard to get him to where he is on the letter board and that just took practice and time. I assured him that he had 9 years to work on it!
We then met two more employees, Tom and Spencer. Tom said to Ryan, “So you are going to be my boss one day?”
Ryan’s response: CALLING IT EARLY THAT I AM GOING TO BE HIS BOSS.
All of us were surprised with Ryan’s quick witted response! I still can’t believe that he spelled that!
We wrapped up the tour at the Customer Service area. We saw Tami again and Ryan continued to want to smell her and hug her. I asked him about this as he only chooses select people to continue to do that to. (He did smell many of the employees that we met and he spelled out IT IS MY HALLMARK WAY OF CHECKING PEOPLE OUT).
I asked him why he chooses to do it to some people more than others and I mentioned that I wondered if it had something to do with how he views people.
GOOD PEOPLE SMELL DIFFERENT.
We finished up and said goodbye to Kim and Tami.
Here are Ryan’s thoughts about the experience:
I REALLY LOVED IT. I MOSTLY ENJOYED GETTING TO KNOW THE EMPLOYEES. YES TO GOING BACK TO VISIT ALL OF THOSE GUYS. HALLMARK STORE (Home Depot) MADE ME FEEL SO AWESOME.