Monday, July 27, 2009

The Day Clark's Name Was Taken

I had a strange experience with Clark the other day when I took him to the grocery store with me. We had just arrived at Safeway and were still in the car when another car pulled up in back of us and out jumped Man Wai Ko ready to go to work as a courtesy clerk. He has been there for about six years. Philip and Man Wai were schoolmates and friends. Man Wai is Chinese, has Down Syndrome and lives ½ mile from our house. I remember years ago when Adam (#2 son) came home from his paper route and told me about the cutest little kid who reminded him of Philip. His shorts were pulled up past his waist and white socks pulled up to his knees. It wasn’t long until they ended up in the same school and we got to know him. We lost track of him until he started work at the same Safeway where Cherlyn, our daughter, works. He was hired as Man Wai Ko but eventually he told the manager he had changed his name to Justin Timberlake. His nametag was changed. Then he changed his name again, this time to Clark Kent. His nametag was changed again. I explained to Clark that Man Wai was now known as Clark. “My name?” “Yes, he likes the name Clark Kent and that’s what he goes by.” We were in the store when we heard Clark (he will always be Man Wai to us) being paged. Clark (my son) told me that Man Wai had taken his name. It wasn’t until we arrived home and Clark continued to sit in the car with his head in his hands that I realized how something so seemingly insignificant had affected him. It took a lot of reassuring that his name had not been taken before Clark could let it go. It seems particularly strange since Clark has known others with the same name but for some reason that day he felt his name had been taken.

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