When shopping at the large Safeway Store at College and Claremont, the first person I usually encounter is Charlie, the self-appointed welcome committee at that store. Due to his distinct facial features, Charlie clearly has Down Syndrome. This syndrome is a genetic abnormality, the most common single cause of birth defects in the United States. The syndrome occurs because of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It causes life long developmental delays that can range from moderate to severe but can be managed so that people with this syndrome live a long life -- many past the age of 50.
Charlie could care less about this medical diagnosis. He loves his job and works like a beaver, helping customers with shopping carts and directing them to the items they're looking for. Customers return his courtesy with friendly smiles. Safeway Stores should be commended for their long practice of hiring people with disabilities. In doing so they give these people pride in their work and a sense of worth.