Sunday, February 03, 2008

Do you really Care?

Here's a challenging story that was part of an email I got recently from Art Sobczak to start your week:

The Handshake
(Excerpted from "The Richest Man In Town")
By V.J. Smith

It's amazing what can happen just by paying
attention. Besides, I never thought I would
have a life-changing experience at Wal-Mart.

I don't remember the exact date I met Marty
for the first time. Up to that moment,
nothing that day seemed particularly important--
certainly not what brought me to the store
in the first place.

Like a lot of people who want to get through
a checkout line, my thoughts were on speed,
nothing more. The line I was standing in
wasn't moving as quickly as I wanted, and I
glanced toward the cashier.

There stood an affable-looking man in his
seventies. Slightly stooped and of average
build, he wore glasses and a nice smile.
I thought, well, he's an old guy and it
probably takes him a little longer to get
the chores done.

For the next few minutes I watched him.
He greeted every customer before he began
scanning the items they were purchasing.

Sure, his words were the usual, "How's
it going?" But he did something different--
he actually listened to people. Then he
would respond to what they had said and
engaged them in brief conversation.

I thought it was odd, but I guess I had
grown accustomed to people asking me how
I was doing simply out of a robotic
conversational habit.

After a while, you don't give any
thought to the question and just mumble
something back. I could say, "I just found
out I have six months to live," and
someone would reply, "Have a great day!"

This old cashier had my attention. He
seemed genuine about wanting to know how
people were feeling. Meanwhile, the high-
tech cash register rang up their purchases
and he announced what they owed.

Customers handed money to him, he punched
the appropriate keys, the cash drawer popped
open, and he counted out their change.

Then magic happened.

He placed the change in his left hand,
walked around the counter to the customer,
and extended his right hand in an act of

As their hands met, the old cashier looked
the customers in the eyes. "I sure want
to thank you for shopping here today." he
told them. "You have a great day. Bye-bye."

The looks on the faces of the customers
were priceless. There were smiles and some
sheepish grins. All had been touched by
his simple gesture - and in a place they
never expected.

Some customers would walk away, pause for
a moment, and look back at the old cashier,
now busy with the next customer. It was
obvious they couldn't quite comprehend
what had just happened. They would gather
their things and walk out the door smiling.

Now it was my turn. As expected, he asked
me how I was doing. I told him I was having
a good day. "That's good", he said. "I'm
having a good day, too." I glanced down at
the name tag on his red vest, the kind
experienced Wal-Mart cashiers wore.

It read, "Marty."

I said, "It looks like you enjoy your
job, Marty."

He replied, "I love my job."

Marty told me how much I owed and I
handed him some money. The next thing
I knew he was standing beside me, offering
his right hand and holding my change in
his left hand.

His kind eyes locked onto mine. Smiling,
and with a firm handshake, he said, "I
sure want to thank you for shopping here
today. Have a great day. Bye-bye."

At the moment I wanted to take him home
and feed him cookies. It was as if Sam
Walton had come back from the dead and
invaded this old guy's body.

I left the store, walked through the
parking lot and got into my car. On the
drive home I couldn't shake what had just
happened. I had been in the store a
hundred times and had never walked away
feeling like that.

Who was that guy?

You can read about Marty in "The Richest
Man in Town," a true story that
captures the important things
in life in an unforgettable way. It is
beautifully written and will make you
laugh, make you cry, but most importantly,
it will make you reflect on what life is about.

Get it here or paste this entire link in
your browser:

(Reprinted with permission of Simple Truths,
LLC. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved)

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