A Sunday wedding that was months away, then weeks away, then days away, is now hours away, and there is so much still to do. The bride is panicking, and the groom is trying to calm her between anxious puffs of his cigarette.
Peter and Lori are on their own.
With time running out, they visit a salon to have Lori’s reddish-brown hair coiled into ringlets. They pay $184 for a two-tier cake at Stop & Shop, where the checkout clerk in Lane 1 wishes them good luck. They buy 30 helium balloons, only to have Peter realize in the Party City parking lot that the bouncing bobble will never squeeze into his car.
Lori, who is feeling the time pressure, insists that she can hold the balloons out the passenger-side window. A doubtful Peter reluctantly gives in.
This story was posted by the New York times a little over a month ago and it begins the way many wedding stories go: the anticipation and the every-thing-has-to-be-perfect stress of the few hours before the walk down the aisle.
Lori and Peter are a couple in love navigating the world the same as most of us married folks do: balancing a marriage with jobs, obligations, yet there in the midst of a . The author tells us, Lori and Peter met and became smitten for each other while both spending their days at sheltered workshop in Rhode Island.
I don’t intend the recap the entire story, and share both because lately I’ve become enamored with reading the comment sections of journalism, more than the written piece itself. It seems like no matter how benign the article is, or how heavily debated the topic might be, comment sections seems to be abuzz with advice, mandates, oughts and shoulds, and general nastiness, or ignorance about a topic in general.
Lori and Peter’s story was no different.
This is a cross section of opinions in the comment section. I get disheartened with the uphill battle of our work when I read an article that mentions disability. I know if I look, I’ll find what I suspect is there. Comments like S.L. from Briarcliff Manor, NY:
S.L.Briarcliff Manor, NY
It might seem like a good idea to get the intellectually disadvantaged individuals out of the sheltered workshop but it is not the job of the supervisor of the new job to have to train and “babysit” the person while he is doing his job. That takes specialized training and time which ordinary supervisors don’t have. They are not trained to handle the tantrums and misunderstandings of the former clients of sheltered workshops. They should not be forced to have to deal with these extra problems just because some judge, far removed from the problem, thinks he has all the answers. It is not fair to the other workers to have to deal with these people on a day to day basis. It might be good for the disabled, but is it not good for the other workers who are just trying to get their work done. It is not fair to the people who are trying to make a living, which the disabled never will, no matter what a judge says.
Down the rabbit hole the comments often go, like S.L. claiming that it’s not a community’s job to “babysit” “clients” who have “tantrums” and how “unfair” it is to nondisabled people to have to work alongside “them.”
While I know in clicking comments, I’ll find what I was looking for, comments like S.L. are always disheartening. Especially when even “well-meaning” comments respond as such:
I never stop being surprised at how the smartest people in our society fail to see the easiest, most cost-effective yet dignity-preserving solutions to problems like these. Think attractive retirement community of garden-style clustered residences–with a central business hub where necessary but repetitive and largely-non-challenging jobs like doing the final packaging of orders, or any kind of packaging, can be done on contract for major companies; and where social services are on-site, as well as a community center, a credit union with assistance for banking, etc.
Then more couples like these could live safely, in attractive surroundings; without the need for cars (because weekly supermarket runs could be provided by facility transport, and convenience-store needs could be provided by an onsite franchise. Supported partly by disability benefits, and perhaps by a consortium of grantmaking partners, this would work. But–too sensible; requiring diverse partners to cooperate; too much of a nonvoting, invisible population. Perhaps parents and siblings can begin to demand this from their elected “representatives.”
“Easiest, most cost-effective” the commenter writes alongside “dignity preserving” while describing a so-called community which by design would completely isolate someone from having to leave it.
It doesn’t take much to become angered, saddened by the comment section when you work day in day out trying to design the opposite of what the above comment describes. It is in these times, I remember the Mr. Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.'”
blueberryintomatosoup Houston, TX
You missed the part about Mr. Maxmean being so excited to have gotten a car, something so far out of his reality before. You also missed the part about how proud and excited the couple was at their first grocery shopping trip in the car, that they took pictures. You also missed the whole point of the changes described in this article, that of integrated the disabled into society at large. The community you describe sounds lovely, but just as segregating as the workshops.
and the simple, yet thoughtful commenters who see the story for what it is: a celebration of two people getting married.
kat Los Angeles
Touching and beautiful story. Congrats to Peter and Lori! Wish you every happiness in your marriage.