The Greeter

I read the following the other day, and it got me thinking:

“A greeter greats people”, says Jim Churchman. . . “I try to project that’s there’s a happy spot in life, that anybody can find some happiness each day. If you come to Walmart, you usually come to buy something, but if you don’t, that’s fine. I’m spreading goodwill.”

“I’m spreading goodwill” – that sounds pretty worthwhile doesn’t it?

How many of us have belittled the “Walmart Greeter”? Have you ever said, or heard someone say, “Well, if you can’t get a real job, you could always be a Walmart greeter”? The idea is that the least qualified person could get that job. Or that job is so low on the scale of job that they must be willing to take anyone. Let’s face it, we think of it as a “joke” of a job.

But is it really?

In the short story above, the man chose that position. Why? Because he likes to greet people. He gets a lot of enjoyment out of it. He recognizes that his smile and hello may be the best thing in someone’s day. His effort to make someone feel welcome is a big improvement over so many other “encounters” we have at other places. Who of us likes to stand in line for a long time somewhere? Ever get to the checkout and be met by a grumpy person who barely makes eye contact? Ever been left to feel like you are imposing on someone by asking a question about merchandise? So in his mind, he is doing something he likes to do, is good at it, helps others and is an improvement over so many other experiences people go through in a day. Can you say that about your job?

He recognizes the value his job creates for people

So choosing to be a Walmart Greeter may be a really noble calling for some. They truly like to meet people. Someone who greets people at a church is considered a wonderful volunteer. Is the Walmart greeter any different?

Maybe the person has a desire or a need for some income. Can we begrudge them for that? For many of us, our jobs are a large part of our identity (if you don’t buy that thought, ask someone out of work how hard it is to answer the question, “so what do you do for a living?”). Maybe it makes someone feel a little better to say they work at Walmart than to say “I am a retiree”. In fact, in Jim’s case he was “retired”, as a former teacher and principal. He was looking for some way to stay engaged.

We hold some jobs on a pedestal. Other jobs seem like the bottom of the barrel. Maybe it is time to stop making those assumptions until we really consider the circumstances. Jobs are quite often the result of what a human being puts into them. A fancy sounding job with a lot of pay at a prestigious organization executed by someone who doesn’t care is not necessarily one to be envied. Maybe a simple, low-paying job executed by someone who cares is a better answer. But it is hard for us to separate the title from the truth. A little reflection might get us thinking differently.

I don’t go into Walmart very often, but next time I do, I am going to take a moment to notice the greeter. Maybe they will make my day a little brighter!

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