Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I don't always have a positive attitude about my work at Wal-Mart. Out late, getting to bed at midnight or later, then up before dawn...that's hard on someone who is so very sleep dependent. School and babysitting during the day, rush to get dinner started late in the afternoon, assign evening chores, fill up my water bottle and hit the road. I hatehatehate leaving home and my family in the evening...feels like I'm always leaving.

But, this job definitely has an up side. There's the pay - not huge, but I'm grateful for it. There's the employee discount - woohoo! There's the delight of getting to know new people - my co-workers, supervisors, and even the customers who make a point of coming routinely through my line.

One aspect of my job for which I am particularly grateful is that it has made me comfortable with talking to absolute strangers. For someone who once suffered from crippling shyness, that's a really big deal! Yes, I can talk to just about anyone now.

"Hello, how are you today?" Eye contact, a smile. People are so hungry for someone to talk to. The lonely widower, the woman exhausted from caring for her invalid mother, the young dad out with the twins so his wife can have a few hours at home alone. The homesick truck driver, the chatty preschooler, the 8-year-old explaining the manufacturing defects in a rubber whale that should have baleen instead of teeth.

I can't really enter into their lives in any significant way, but for a few minutes I can listen. The ability to say "hello" and then to engage and listen, even if only for a short while, is such a gift...a sweet blessing during a long shift at the register.

"Hello." A gift for which I'm grateful. A gift that I pray I steward well.

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