Elijah: A Man Among Men
an essay by Jimmy Sutman
Elijah is a worker at Golden String’s “Gallagher’s Lunch Bucket” specializing in operating the fryers and his favorite delicacy, hand cut french fries. Elijah lives in a home owned by Golden String and staffed by ISLE incorporated.
Elijah appeared in our lives in 2004, after graduation from the Rayen School, and started attending the Purple Cat in its infancy on Champion Street. I have worked late in the night with Elijah at concession stands, movie theaters, our own Touch the Moon Candy Saloon, and various businesses in our community. I have slept next to him in the front seats of my truck (as we waited for the Downtown movies to end) and shared hotel rooms with him on various vacations. We have nervously sat in court rooms and hospital emergency rooms together. He is industrious and opinionated. Religious and kind. His disability causes him to be obsessive compulsive and misunderstand cause and effect from time to time. He often calls me and others dozens of times a day. He can be caustic, angry, and severely disappointed in not being able to make his own decisions. There is a phobia that all banks are stealing from him. But through it all, there is a gentile presence that delights in passing out candy canes to children at our Christmas party, at passing out free hot chocolate at the Downtown Youngstown Holiday Parade, at wearing Old Testament costumes at our Halloween parties. Beneath the callous, a hard, painful callous that society has helped to create, lives a soft, caring man, who despite his authoritarian size, desperately wants to find his rightful place in society, a small place that is his own: a goal that should not be so difficult and lofty. Elijah is indeed, finding his way.
Please stop by Gallagher’s Lunch Bucket and order some fresh, crispy fries created by Elijah. Stop and visit with him on Saturdays at the Touch the Moon Candy Saloon. Please support a man who is trying to navigate a world that is confusing and unyieldingly hard at times. Please support a man who is not perfect (like ourselves) but tries mightily day after day to be a productive member of our society. Please support a man whose french fries are fresh cut, salty, crispy. . . pass the vinegar and ketchup please.