We all know how hard it is to work in one place for a long time. How long is too long for all of us? 2 years, maybe 5? But this man has worked at the same place for more than three decades and he has now retired. 50-year-old Russell O’Grady was a beloved McDonald’s employee with Down’s Syndrome. He has worked at the same restaurant for 32 years! According to Independent, “he first came to the restaurant in 1984 on a work experience placement organized by Jobsupport, an Australian government initiative that helps people with intellectual disabilities find paid employment when he was 18 years old.”
Thanks to his impeccable work ethic, he was given a full-time job at the restaurant in Northmead, in west Sydney. Over the last three decades, his job included cleaning, serving customers and packing party boxes in addition to working shifts in the kitchen. His supervisor Courtney Purcell mentioned that he had become an icon of sorts with people from all over coming to the restaurant just to meet him
She said, “We’ve got regular customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday, and the staff looks after him, so we’re going to miss him.” O’Grady’s brother Lindsey said that his diligence to work had made his family incredibly proud. “He’s kind of blase about it but loves his work very much. He’s pretty cheeky sometimes. He’s my big brother and he keeps me in line,” he said reports The Daily Mail.
His father, Geoff O’Grady said that his son was so well-loved and liked that people would come up to him and shake his hand. “He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it.” Thanks to his career, his son has a different outlook on life. “Somebody said to him ‘are you handicapped?’ and his answer was ”I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald’s,” he said.
Russel joined McDonald’s at a time when people with disabilities were rarely given the opportunity to work, perhaps with employers thinking they would not be able to perform well. Once Russel joined the workforce, he proved his mettle as a responsible and valuable employee.
After 32 years with McDonald’s and after a lot of contemplation, Russell decided that retirement was the next best step for him. Russell is reportedly an ardent tenpin bowler and spends lots of his time at Northmead Bowling Club, that’s where he’ll be spending lots of his free time.
What is Down Syndrome? According to the National Down Syndrome Society, “In every cell in the human body, there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.”