Allow me to introduce you to Nathan, a Walmart Greeter in Pontiac, Illinois. Nathan is a very special person and I'm so glad I had the great fortune of meeting this young man while on my trek heading back to the eastern U.S.
When I met young Nathan, we were washing out hands in the men's restroom at the Pontiac, Illinois Walmart Supercenter. Nathan was very friendly and very courteous, starting a conversation with something like, "I hope you're having a wonderful day, Sir!" I said I was and wished him the same. He then went on and asked if I shopped at this Walmart regularly and I said I didn't, I was just passing through on my way from the west coast back to the east coast. His inquisitiveness was both innocent and refreshing. I knew there was something special about this young man.
Nathan then asked where I came from (meaning, where did I consider home) and I gave him a very short "elevator speech" about not having a fixed home any longer and being based in South Dakota, but I had lived in New York, Maryland and Virginia and I was born and raised in New Jersey. This brief resume seem to delight him and he became very enthusiastic when I mentioned New Jersey. His response was "New Jersey! Wow! I've never been to New Jersey."
By this time we had left the men's restroom and he just kept repeating, "Wow! New Jersey." It was almost as though I had arrived from the Land of Oz. Again, throughout the entire conversation, brief as it was, he was always polite and courteous and his enthusiasm (at about 10:00 AM) was infectious.
At this time, I knew his name from his name badge, though I hadn't read his job title. I discovered that later. I decided to stop at the Subway shop in the Walmart and partake in one of their breakfast sandwiches. While I was sitting there enjoying my breakfast, I heard some music playing that definitely didn't sound like it was standard "Muzak" background sound. I craned my neck a bit attempting to discern where the music was originating. When the music wasn't playing, I would see Nathan walking around that end of the store doing various "chores."
It wasn't until I finished my breakfast that I realized the music was emanating from a folding table set up at the entrance to that side of the store. At the table sat young Nathan playing a small keyboard. It was then that I realized what Nathan's position was at the Pontiac, Illinois Walmart Supercenter. He was an official "People Greeter," although, I would suggest that he was actually an ambassador of goodwill.
Yes! Young Nathan greeted people with the same enthusiasm, politeness and courtesy he had extended to me beginning in the men's room. I sat and watched and listened for a while. There were hugs, both given and received by Nathan. There were smiles and warm salutations. I watched him interacting with other store employees and there appeared to be a genuine warmth and friendliness that extended both ways. I spoke with one of the other employees and she said Nathan was a very special member of the staff and was respected and loved by all.
This special young man certainly did his best to not only make people feel welcome in "his" Walmart, but attempted to make everyone's day brighter because they crossed his path.
Oh yes! The table, the keyboard and the music. First, I wouldn't say, from my limited exposure, Nathan was a virtuoso musician. However, at the table he set up at the front of the store, there is a sign you can see clearly soliciting donations to the 2015 CMN. CMN stands for Children's Miracle Network. You'll also note a jar stuffed with cash. Nathan doesn't have to ask anyone to donate, he simply is a "miracle" himself. He never leaves the table without taking that jar with him. He understands how important the job is that he's doing and the responsibility he shoulders to help the children needing miracles. And, you bet your boots I put some cash in his jar.
Almost every day is a great day in my current living free lifestyle. I don't need much to make me smile and feel blessed. But, this particular day, a young man, Nathan, crossed my path doing what many might consider a somewhat menial job. Not Nathan. This seems to be his calling. His job is to make people smile and feel good, at least for a little while, regardless of what they may be dealing with in their personal lives.
Nathan and I chatted some more before I was preparing to leave the store to climb into My McVansion and continue on my journey. I asked Nathan if I could take a couple pictures and video record a short clip of him playing his keyboard. I told him I wanted to share my experience, on my blog, of meeting him and how he had made such a positive impression on me. He was delighted. I gave him one of my travel cards with my blog URL on it and told him to watch for my story about him in a week or two.
I hope he gets to see this and realize just how important he is to Walmart, the customers in Pontiac, Illinois, the children who will benefit from the Children's Miracle Network and to a world who needs to find and meet a lot more Nathans, the Walmart Greeter. Please share this blog article with your friends. I hope it will inspire them, too. And maybe some of my vandwelling and RVing friends will stop at the Pontiac, Illinois Walmart if they're ever passing through the area and meet Nathan themselves. I know he'd love to meet you.
Here's Nathan . . .