For Hector Andes Zuniga, Blockbuster is more than just a video rental store, it's a big part of his life. Zuniga, 20, has autism and is non-verbal.
According to Huffington Post, he's been going to the Blockbuster in Sharyland, Texas since he was 13. In fact, he typically went twice a week to pick up snacks and rent his favorite movies which include Rugrats, Blue's Clue's, Barney and Elmo.
His father, also named Hector, said that every time they would drive by Zuniga would point and say one of the few words he speaks, "Barney."
So when an employee pulled his mother Rosa aside and told her the store would be closing, she was devastated. She called her husband right away.
“[Hector Andres] is a happy-go-lucky kid,” Hector Sr. said. “He’s all heart, he’s very tender, but like anyone else, he has bad days. And we knew one of those bad days were around the corner when we found out that the Blockbuster was about to close.”
But then, Rosa had an idea. Since the store would be closing, they were selling their inventory. So the idea came to her to buy some of the movies and shows that Zuniga loves and re-create the movie rental store in their home.
“The employees told us when they’d start selling their stock, and when they did, I was one of the first customers in the store,” Hector Sr. said.
They began buying DVDs, signs, and even a rack to display everything.
“Those employees really came out to bat for my son,” Hector Sr. said. “They really paid attention and did a hell of a job.”
MY AUTISTIC BROTHER WAS SAD THAT BLOCK BUSTER WAS CLOSING DOWN SO MY PARENTS MADE A MINI ONE AT HOME FOR HIM! 😭❤️ pic.twitter.com/B4oo74NBvi— jaavii (@Javiii_Zuniga) April 23, 2017
When the day came for the store to close, the entire family took Zuniga to the Blockbuster one more time, so he could fully understand what was happening.
“He understood, I could see it in his eyes,” Hector Sr. said. “And he almost started having a meltdown.”
His dad knew just what to do, though. He grabbed his son’s hands, looked him in the eyes and said, “This place is closing, but it’s OK. We have a surprise for you at home.”
“It’s hard for my son to express emotions,” Hector Sr. said. “But when he saw the room, his eyes were as big as saucers.”
And after the existence of the "new" Blockbuster sunk in, Zuniga did something very special.
“His way of saying ‘I love you,’ is by going up to you and grabbing your earlobe,” Hector Sr. said. “So he came up to me and grabbed my ear … it was one of those moments that us parents live for.”
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