When We Met
If you’re meeting Danny Vanden Bosch for the first time, you might want to tell him a joke. He’s known as a bit of a teaser and a joker by his co-workers at The Mustard Seed in Twin Falls.
“He’ll walk by and stick his tongue out ... or he’ll wave,” store manager Liz Mandelkow said Jan. 14 while I sat in her office at the thrift store waiting to meet Vanden Bosch.
I wasn’t clever enough to think of a funny way to break the ice by the time he walked to the front of the store. So I didn’t blame him for wanting to go back to work rather than sit in an office and talk with a new person wielding a camera.
“He’s camera shy,” said Vanden Bosch’s developmental technician, Diane Goodman, as we followed him to the back room of The Mustard Seed where Vanden Bosch was sorting hangers.
Vanden Bosch reminded me of my youngest sister, Juniper, quiet in front of strangers but someone who loves a good laugh when around family and people she knows. She will turn 21 in April, and though she graduated from high school almost four years ago, she still attends school where she learns to how to care for herself and works at a recycling center where she sorts plastics and aluminum. During one conversation I had with my mother a week or so ago, she said Juniper, who was on winter break, was anxious to go back to school and her job.
Vanden Bosch likes a routine, too.
“He doesn’t like to meet new people, he doesn’t like change,” Goodman said.
When it comes to change, Mandelkow said she could relate.
“We’re a lot alike. He’s just more verbal. He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Mandelkow said.
How You Might Know Him
Goodman and Vanden Bosch are together five days of the week for 9 1/2 hours a day. The two like to bowl, shop for model vehicles — John Deere is Vanden Bosch’s favorite — and walk around the Magic Valley Mall for exercise. He also likes to take his family out to dinner at Golden Corral, Goodman said.
“I’m his adopted sis. But he tells me he’s going to fire me in the same breath,” Goodman said with a laugh.
But of all the things that Vanden Bosch does during the week, Goodman said, his favorite is working at The Mustard Seed.
“He’s found a lot of friends here,” Goodman said.
Vanden Bosch, 46, has worked at The Mustard Seed for eight years.
As Mandelkow walked back to her office, Vanden Bosch shouted to her: “I love you, Liz. I’m gonna quit.”
Mandelkow replied using one of Vanden Bosch’s favorite responses: “Yeah, whatever.”
When Vanden Bosch is not in the room, it’s quiet as the other volunteers and workers fold clothes and sort items like shirts, coats and shoes. But when Vanden Bosch is present, he chats with everyone.
“Let’s go fishing, you guys,” Vanden Bosch said.
As he walked toward the front of the store, Goodman asked him: “Where are you going?”
“Get some more tape for the people,” he said. “Your truck is gone.”
“I hope not, we’ll have to walk,” Goodman said.
When We Said Goodbye
Goodman said she is not allowed in Vanden Bosch’s domain by the clothes racks when he is at work, but I asked him if he would be willing to pose for a picture with Goodman. He put his arm around Goodman, but he didn’t want to look into the camera, finding every corner in the room but the lens in front of him. Instead he leaned over and gave Goodman a kiss on the head.
Then Goodman went to her side of the room and Vanden Bosch went back to work, taking a sip from a mug.
I asked if he was a coffee drinker.
“Yup, it keeps me warm,” he said.
He took a pile of clothes to a free bin, but before going outside he paused at the door. “Oh, it’s snowing again, guys,” he said, and he walked out into the flakes that seemed to form in the frigid air.
Tell Tetona Dunlap whom she should meet next for her weekly column: 735-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.