Arc, Jiffy Mart Celebrate 70-year old's retirement

Carroll County Times
August 7, 2012

Inside the store at about 10:30 a.m. July 26, Jiffy Mart and The Arc Carroll County employees scrambled to hang up balloons, streamers and a "happy retirement" banner. The 70-year-old walked back into the store, decorations intact.  "This is for you Mickey. Happy retirement," said Megan Blaylock, community employment coordinator at The Arc, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  "Nu uh," he said, and started to cry.

About a dozen attendees celebrated the 10 years Aldridge, who has an intellectual disability, worked at the store on 74 W. Main St. in Westminster with cake and Subway sandwiches. He was awarded a certificate of great service and the only Jiffy Mart retirement hat in existence — a black cap with the store's logo on the front and the words "retired staff" embroidered in white on the back.

Aldridge's job was to break down boxes, take out the trash, maintain the parking lot, clean the windows and other similar tasks.

"Mickey really liked his job," Blaylock said. "He knew his job. He knew the order he needed to do things and went for it."

In the lobby of the Locust House, the apartment complex in Westminster for lower income, elderly individuals where Aldridge lives, The Arc Carroll County executive director Donald Rowe asked Aldridge if it'd be nice to enjoy his retirement for a little while.  No, Aldridge replied.

That's because he's a hard worker, and likes it, too. Whether it's working with a trash company or laying bricks on Main Street in Westminster, he's consistently held a job. In his 10 years of employment at Jiffy Mart, he rarely took a day off, accruing a total of 99 vacation days, according to Blaylock.

"He's like a permanent fixture at Jiffy Mart, so it's kind of hard him not being here," said Betsy Wagster, the store's assistant manager.

Mickey Aldridge

Jiffy Mart employees aren't the only ones who have gotten to know this Carroll County native.

"He's been a part of this community here for 70 years," Rowe said. "He's pretty visible — always worked downtown, lived downtown."

Rowe has known Aldridge for 14 years, though they met in tragic circumstances. Aldridge's parents — whom he lived with — died in a car accident, and The Arc employees came to his aid.

Afterward, there was healing.

Now, Aldridge lives at the Locust House and hangs out with his neighbors in between watching Westerns, listening to Elvis or gospel music and calling out Bingo.

He socializes often, said Christine Brehm, from The Arc support staff, which wasn't always the case.

It's evident Aldridge's neighbors know him. As he walked into a room downstairs where Locust House residents were waiting for a crab and shrimp feast around lunchtime last week, several called out Aldridge's name, congratulating him on his retirement.