September 25, 2021
Robert Hunt was a ruthless businessman who didn’t tolerate any weakness, and he was rude to disabled people constantly. But all that changed with the birth of his son, which taught him a big lesson.
“Excuse me? Can’t you hear me?! My daughter needs to use the bathroom. Can you tell me where it is?” Robert asked the cashier at the grocery store. He was with his daughter, Emily, getting a few things before going home.
“Sir, I’m sorry. Our cashier, Celeste, is deaf-mute. The bathrooms are over there,” the manager said when he approached the register to see what was going on.
“You hired a deaf-mute as a cashier at a store? That’s crazy! These employees have to deal with people! Put her in the back,” Robert said rudely.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir. But Celeste is a valued employee, and we don’t discriminate based on disabilities in this store. She can handle scanning groceries and check out just fine,” the manager added, annoyed at Robert’s attitude.
“Whatever. I want to get out of here,” Robert said in a huff. He paid for his stuff, took Emily to the bathroom, and went home. This incident was just a blip on his radar, but he would remember it a few years down the road.
When Robert got home, he called out to his pregnant wife Georgia who suddently yelled, “I’m going into labor!” as her water broke right when Robert walked through the door. Quickly, Robert ushered his family to his car and went to the hospital.
Georgia’s pregnancy had not been easy. Her OBGYN put her on bed rest almost immediately, and it was still a month before her due date. “I’m worried, honey,” she told him in the car.
“Don’t worry, Georgia. That’s my son in there. He’s a fighter like his father. He will be perfect!” Robert assured her with conviction. After many hours of labor that resulted in an emergency C-section, his son, Richard, was born.
“Your son is fine for now. We’ll have to run some further tests, and he needs to spend a week in the NICU before we can release him. But everything looks good for now,” Dr. Tamill explained. Luckily, Georgia was fine as well.
Robert sent Emily to stay at his parent’s house, and he stayed with Georgia and their son in the hospital. “Hey, Richard. You’re my son, and you’re going to be an even better businessman than I am,” Robert said when the nurses allowed him to hold the baby.
“Oh, I hope not…” his wife muttered under her breath.
Robert Hunt was a successful businessman in town, but he was also known as one of the worst bosses anyone could have. He didn’t tolerate excuses and only hired the best of the best. His employees had no room to be human beings.
“I don’t care that your son is sick, Judy. I need this report on my desk in a few hours, or you can kiss your job goodbye!” he yelled one time at an employee. She quit on the spot, but everyone else was too scared of losing their job. Furthermore, he never hired people with disabilities.
“Sir, there are anti-discrimination laws in our city now. This candidate is great for the job despite her disability,” his assistant, Anthony, told him when they hired a replacement for Judy.
“I don’t care about any stupid millennial laws people want to push around here. The woman is in a wheelchair. If we hire her, we would have to install ramps, and who knows what else? Hire the other candidate with her qualifications,” Robert told Anthony firmly.
Georgina didn’t want her son to grow up like her father. He would never meet his crazy standards, but she never imagined what the doctor would tell them a week after his birth.
“Hey, Doc! Are we allowed to leave now? Richard looks pretty awesome, and I need to get back to work,” Robert said to the doctor.
“Yes, you’re allowed to leave today. But I have some news. After running a few more tests on Richard, we've discovered that he is deaf,” the doctor said. The room got quiet.
“WHAT?!” Robert yelled.
“Robert, calm down,” Georgina urged.
“WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU BOTCH THE C-SECTION! I WILL SUE ALL OF YOU! MY SON CAN’T BE DEAF. HE’S MY FIRSTBORN!” Robert screamed some more.
“Sir, please let me speak. Your wife had a complicated pregnancy and labor that led to Richard’s condition. But it’s far from the end of the world. There are so many advancements in technology that will work for your baby in a few years,” the doctor assured.
“Like what?” Robert said, a little less agitated and more focused. They needed to find a solution because their child couldn’t live like this forever.
“In a year, we can fit him with a Cochlear implant. We’ll see how it works for him. A few years down the road, we might talk about surgeries. But this field advances all the time. You don’t have to worry,” the doctor finished and let them go.
For a long time, Richard’s disability was not a problem. He was a quiet baby. A year after his birth, they gave him a Cochlear implant, which worked wonderfully for him. They adjusted it every year, and clearly, he was a bright boy.
Meanwhile, watching his son overcome his disability, Robert began to change. He became more compassionate and empathetic. His company’s morale soared in the last few years because they had more sick leave, benefits, and less discrimination.
Eventually, Robert remembered the incident at the grocery store and apologized to the cashier, who was still working the register after all these years. She even offered him information and showed him a few support groups to help Richard and their family.
When Richard started pre-school, Robert noticed that he was more intelligent than most of his class of regularly-abled children. That’s my son, Robert thought proudly. But the boy faced bullying at school due to his implant.
“Dad, why do I have this in my ear? No one else at school has them,” his son asked one day.
“That’s because you’re the coolest boy in their class. They are jealous of you and our family,” Robert answered, a little worried. Richard seemed to understand that he couldn’t hear without the implant, but this was the first time he noticed the difference between him and his classmates.
“I don’t want to be the only weird one at school,” the boy continued when Robert tucked him in bed that night.
“Don’t worry. You’re not weird. You are not alone either,” Robert told him. After discussing it with his wife, Robert shaved half his head and went out. He got a tattoo of a Cochlear implant right there, so that Richard would not be alone.
The boy brought his dad to show-and-tell that week, and everyone saw that Robert also “had” the implant. Richard’s bright smile was worth it, and Robert couldn’t believe how wrong he was about disabilities before.
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