An unsought gift, specially delivered

Posted: November 14, 2011

By Kevin Cullen

An October snowstorm postponed Halloween in Westborough, Mass., so Sam Kanji had to wait the better part of a week to put his UPS uniform on to go trick-or-treating. Not that he's complaining. It was the second year in a row that Sam went out as a UPS man, and it's gotten to the point that he doesn't need Halloween to put on his uniform.

Last year, when Sam was 12, he told his mother that he wanted to dress up as a UPS man for Halloween. In fact, he said he was pretty sure he was going to be a UPS man when he grows up.

Sam has autism, but he is one of the most logical people you'll ever meet. He likes - nay, loves - elevators. He likes to push the buttons. He likes when the doors open, and he likes when the doors close. But he really likes that feeling, whisking up and down. So it makes complete sense that he wants to be a UPS man, as riding office building elevators is part of the job.

When Sam first told his mom, Ilyse Levine-Kanji, that he wanted to dress up as a UPS man, she went online and ordered a UPS hat. When the local UPS man, Tim Phillips, stopped by with a package, she told him about it. Phillips smiled.

The next day, Phillips was back with another delivery, and he met Sam for the first time.

"What's your name?" Sam asked. Then, "When's your birthday?" Once Sam has your name and birthday, he never forgets them. And he can tell you what day of the week your birthday falls on, going backward or forward 50 years.

Phillips went back the next day, when Sam was at school, and asked Sam's mother for his measurements. "My supervisor thinks this is a good idea," he said, and he drove away in his big brown truck.

The next delivery Tim Phillips made at the Kanji house was a perfectly tailored UPS uniform for Sam.

Sam wore it for Halloween last year. Then he wore it on Thanksgiving. When his family visited relatives in Michigan for the holidays, he wore it on Christmas. And when they saw relatives in Chicago, he wore it on New Year's Eve.

"Any day that can be remotely described as special, Sam puts the uniform on," his mom said.

Sam Kanji is a young man of few words. But he can remember just about anything he puts his mind to. Now taking French at school, he's trying to figure out how to ask, "What can brown do for you?" in French.

This is not the biggest story in the world. But one day, a working guy whose job is all about time took the time to do something special for a kid, and a year later it still makes a boy smile and believe that anything and everything is possible - that life is like an elevator: It goes up, it goes down, so enjoy the ride.

Kevin Cullen writes for the Boston Globe.

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