Matthew Simmons works as a cashier at Trader Joe's. Matthew is deaf so even in normal times he has challenges. But the last few weeks have been nearly impossible thanks to COVID-19.
Matthew relies of reading people's lips, but how do you do that when so many are wearing masks.
Many shoppers unaware Simmons is deaf would ask questions and try to strike up a conversation with him at the cash register -- making for some unintended customer service issues. Often they thought he was being rude or was ignoring them and that upset him.
So he started thinking about ways he could solve the problem with his coworkers. The team decided it would be best to have a crew member work alongside him for the time being so there wasn’t a breakdown in communication with customers hustling to get supplies.
But that became unnessary when Matthew found the perfect T-shirt online.
"It read ‘I'm Deaf’ on the front and 'tap on the shoulder' on the back which is exactly what I needed people to know from a distance so I can do my job," Simmons said. So his boss Ali Baker got some pint and a Trader Joe's t-shirt and recreated the shirt. Then Baker also bought three small white boards and dry erase markers for Simmons to walk around with so shoppers could ask him questions while covered up.
Things changed immediately.
"The first customer at my register read it and wrote down on the small white board 'It must be hard with everyone wearing masks! Thank you for your help,'" Simmons said. "People finally understood it was such a relief."
Simmons told Good Morning America: "To see the lengths that my fellow teammates went to so that I would feel supported and no different than any other employee really shows the human kindness we have for one another, working together towards a common goal, breaking down barriers, showing compassion to one another instead of prejudices. That’s the best part."
Simmons added he plans to wear his new shirt for the foreseeable future!!