Remembered Unexpectedly

The man with the cleverest mind I’ve ever known came with all the stereotypical quirks you might expect.
Socially inept, emotionally immature and physically underdeveloped.
He was in a placement in a factory where I did maintenance, doing engineering calclations with his face in his hands quicker than the engineering mangager could do it on his calculator.
They struggled with him, one or two of the guys there got him to open up a bit, but mostly he’d talk to them while stooped, looking the other way. And quietly.The manager asked if he could spend some time with us doing some of the practical side, thinking it would do him good.
He stayed with us for weeks. From a man who walked into scaffold, spilt his tea on his legs, fell down a man hole and painted his head with bitumen paint accidentally, we eventually got a shaven headed, sharp, conversational and personable workmate.

We didn’t rib him all the time, didn’t patronise him either. A bit of encouragement and some stick too and he found his place with a bunch of workies, confident and part of the squad.
When he went back to the factory placement we missed him.

Months later we saw him in the street when heading to Greggs, this was a while after his placement had ended. Unkempt, stooped, and nervous looking again. We said hello, we got a glance up and indestiguishable muttering and he carried on.

We were really sad. You can teach people, but if it doesn’t come naturally, without the contact it’s lost.

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