Being loyal to your job for years, many more decades, can be a huge challenge for many. But for Russell O’Grady, that was easy. Russell worked for McDonalds for 32 years. And in 2018, it was finally his time to retire!
Now you have to remember that Russell was born with Down Syndrome. This is a genetic disorder that can affect the persons’ intellectual and overall development. And for those living with this disability, life expectancy is low. Most parents of children with the condition choose to closely guard their kids and keep them at a close distance most of the time.
They are homeschooled and are usually not encouraged to take a job. And breaking this conventional belief is what Russell did. He showed the world that despite living with this disability, there are things that he is capable of doing.
Russell started working for McDonalds in Sydney in 1986, more than 3 ½ decades ago. He was hired at a time that people with disabilities were rarely given the opportunity to work to earn a living. And when he got the job, he broke the stigma that disabled individuals are not capable of holding jobs.
According to Now This, Russell landed the job through Job support. This is a platform that is dedicated to help people with intellectual disabilities to find paid work. Russell was one of the first few people who had access to the program. This platform also partners with 75 McDonald’s outlets and would regularly place their graduates in these stores all across the country.
When he was hired to work for the famous fast-food chain, Russell didn’t have any work experience. He was only 18 years old when he started working for McDonald’s. But he was a cheerful employee who always had a huge smile on his face. But aside from that, he also impressed his peers and his bosses with his hard work and dedication to work.
He started out as a staff who packs party boxes, then later on, was assigned to more complicated tasks. And when he started with his customer-service role, his personality grew.
In fact, people would come to the store just to meet him and be given the chance to talk to him. Those locals know him and they describe Russell as the “best-known person in Northmead.” He has a kind and friendly personality that turned him into a local celebrity.
Courtney Purcell who is one of his supervisors 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.”
His younger sibling, Lindsey, says that Russell also inspired him. He said, “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.” His dad said that they were very thankful for this amazing opportunity that was given to Russell because this surely helped boost his self-esteem.
When Russell reached his 30 years of employment at McDonald’s, the employees threw a party for him. Since then, he has already retired because of his health reasons. But this did not stop Russell from working. He is currently busy with dog therapy and bowling!