He’s an amazing man. He works at a Safeway store in Kirkland, Wa. and his customers adore him. Despite his terribly disfigured face, little children “high-five” James O’Neal. His story is a lesson in courage and inner fortitude, a tale of grit and steel. His life reveals a man who has grasped the sometimes illusive understanding that the housing of a man often shows his deep and intimate being in a mistaken manner. The James O’Neal account is the brilliant display of a noble soul.
Unlike many persons with such disfigurements, Mr. O’Neal has made the decision to refrain from hiding. Instead, he has immersed himself in a job where, every day, he meets the public.
O’Neal knows his deformity shocks people. He knows others with the same genetic disorder would rather hide than work, but for 7 years James has proudly worked the registers at the Kingsgate Safeway on 124th Avenue NE in Kirkland.
“I just tell people this is who I am, it’s the way I am. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me,” he said.
His customers don’t like him — they love him.
“He is an amazing man and we love him. He’s the kind of person that makes your day,” said customer Aubrey Richins.
“I really love James,” said shopper Katie Knopf.
All of them say they were stunned at first when they saw his disfigured face.
“I have to admit I was a little taken back, but when I walked through his line I felt this spirit come over me, this man is out here, not hiding,” said long-time customer Cindy Peay.
Every shopper said the same thing: O’Neal is an inspiration. If that wasn’t enough, he’s lightning-fast on the register.
From KOMO News where a video is also available.
There are others involved here who are to be commended. The first are the management at the Safeway store who courageously hired James to be a cashier at this major grocery store. Not knowing in advance what the response of the public would be, they valiantly took a chance.
Now, his customers and his fellow workers are raising money to help pay for operations that doctors say will greatly improve his appearance. While his medical insurance will cover much of the expense, it will in no way fund all the medical treatments that are needed.
Across the country, and even around the world, people have read of this remarkable man, in loving ways have written of his story, and have contributed thousands of dollars. He has captured our hearts. Holly emailed me about James as his story broke on network news, the next day Trish Groe suggested I would be interested in his story, and now multiplied times over I have read and heard his story.
The kindness and generosity of Americans impress me. I’m glad I live in this great country and can make claim to its nurturing humanitarian concepts. The thoughtfulness of the peoples of the world thrill me. I’m glad that from continent to continent we can hold hands and revel in common goodness.
Let us continue to pray for James, for his support team, and for his doctors.
My devotional blog is here.