As the mother of a (so-called) handicapped daughter, I have watched with interest the unfolding story of how a handicapped young man working at a local Smith's store came to be treated almost as the "mascot" for that particular store. I would imagine it started out fairly innocently. The young man himself, wanting to be part of the "fun," would have made little or no protest at all to the attention he received. Apparently it took his own mother to bring to the attention of others that dealing with her son in such a way was disrespectful and perhaps even hurtful.

My heart goes out to this family. However, being removed from their particular situation I realize I certainly do not have any right to judge or find fault with any of the participants. My point in writing is not to condone or condemn what took place, but I guess I have some concern that the judgments of others might possibly spill over into judging all Smith's stores as not showing proper respect for their "special" employees.My daughter, Sara, has been employed by a local Smith's store for almost 10 years. Now, that may sound like "no big deal"' to you, but I am sure those working with Sara at Smith's as well as those of us in her family recognize this to be quite an extraordinary feat. It has not been smooth or uneventful. It has been a partnership not unlike a marriage that has taken a ton of tolerance, patience, negotiating, renegotiating, compromising and flexibility on both sides. Sara has found many friends at Smith's: employers, employees and customers alike. As her mother, I just want to say thank you for the respect and kindness she has been shown by the majority of you.

Lynne N. Carlquist

Salt Lake City