I went to Walmart a little bit ago. Don’t be alarmed. I mostly kept my eyes averted and made it out virtually unscathed.
I went in search of a new tube for my wife’s bike. As I walked past the racks of new bikes, I paused and was looking at all the models and the prices.
There was a young couple with their children there as well, talking to an older gentleman. He was dressed in jeans and a wrinkled button-up shirt. He was showing them the different bikes and when they finally settled on one, he wished them a good day.
Then he came to me and asked “can I help you?” He didn’t have anything that identified him as an employee of the store.
Normally I try and get into Walmart (or any store really) without speaking to anyone. It’s one of the things I love about self-checkout. I shook my head and told him, “no, I’m just here for a bike tube.”
He followed me to the tubes and gave me suggestions on how I could cut the old tube and line the tire with it as added protection. I nodded and said it sounded like a fine idea. When I wandered back to the new bikes, he pointed out which ones were on sale and what the best deals were.
A woman looking for a bike for her husband for Father’s Day asked him for help. She had a sales ad in her hand and was looking for that particular bike. He pointed it out and removed it from the upper rack for her and she went on her way.
I wandered off to get a basketball backboard for my daughter and when I came back, he was gone.
I ended up buying my wife a new bike. As I was wheeling it out of the store the man helping others choose bikes was leaving as well. He had a half gallon of milk and a few items of groceries in his hand.
I considered the fact that the best salesperson I’ve ever met at Walmart didn’t work there. It also struck me that perhaps this was his way of being part of something, of having people to interact with.
I hope he isn’t alone, but perhaps he is.
And perhaps I shouldn’t be in such a hurry and avert my eyes from my neighbors anymore.