Norm Manning went shopping at Healthiest Foods in East Chandler, Arizona on what he thought was a regular day. But soon, he would have a special encounter.
Manning couldn’t find the cereal section, so he asked a nearby worker for help.
“She was a short, curly-haired girl in noise-canceling headphones,” he recalls in a viral social media post. “She was making these strange hand-wringing movements. And wouldn’t look me in the eye. She smiled at my feet and asked if she could help me.”
Manning thought about yelling at her and getting her fired for rude behavior. Instead, he pushed away these normal instincts and asked where the cereal was. When she told him, he thanked her and turned to leave.
That was when Manning noticed two other workers staring. “They told me she had autism, an intellectual disability, infertility, and some serious medical issues I don’t know how to spell,” Manning recalled. “They were giggling, so excited I had a real conversation with her. Apparently, she doesn’t talk to other people much.”
Autism is a spectrum disorder that causes a variety of strange behaviors. Afflicted people struggle to have normal interactions with other people.
Manning’s online post amassed over half a million likes. Commenters called Manning a hero for his compassion.
“People like that, they don’t get much happiness in life,” Manning reflected. “Treating her with kindness… it probably made her week. I acted like she was a real person, you know? And that’s the best thing someone like her could hope for.”
Accessibility note: This piece is satire.