MLN-FrontPorch-14When I was a child there was a gentleman in our neighborhood who always took the time to say a cheery hello to the children, share a smile and a friendly greeting for his peers and, do light yard work or other acts of kindness for the elderly.  The ladies who sat on my grandma’s front porch credited him with making their day brighter and referred to him as “a real gem”.

Recently an incident occurred that reminded of that long ago used phrase.  Hence, I took the time to check the word gem in the dictionary.  Among the meanings I discovered one that I consider very appropriate for that long ago neighbor. A gem is: a highly prized person

During the holidays, I discovered a gem, in an unexpected place.   I was shopping at our local Wal-Mart, in mid-November.  It was already crowded with Christmas shoppers and finding an employee to answer a question was no easy task.  Still, I managed to find just the desk chair that I had been hoping to buy.  However, I couldn’t get the large crate, in which it was packaged, off the shelf and into my cart. So, I found a manager and asked if he would get someone to help me in the furniture department.  The manager assured me he would get the needed help and, after short wait, he appeared, followed by an employee with a thousand watt smile.

This employee’s customer pleasing attitude was as delightful as his smile.  He loaded the crate onto my cart, pushed the cart to the check stand, remained with me while I paid for the purchase and escorted me to the parking lot where he loaded the crate in my car.  I offered a tip which he firmly but politely refused.  There is no doubt that the amount of goodwill this polite, pleasant and professional employee generated for Wal-Mart was worth any amount of money they pay him.

The next time I’m having a long, tiring, frustrating day and become tempted to take it out on those around me, I’ll try to recall the definition of the word gem – a highly prized person.   Then, I’ll pause, remember my Wal-Mart experience and try to be a little kinder to those I encounter.

Perhaps, each of us would benefit it we concentrated less on what gems we might receive and more on becoming one.

Betty Haines is a retired curriculum developer and author with two published novel/e-books to her credit.   Her first novel, Reluctant Hero, is a work of historical fiction in which she heralds her father’s journey from son of a KKK member to a champion of efforts to integrate a South Alabama paper mill.  In her second novel, Grieving Sucks or Does It, is non-fiction.  She shares lessons learned while struggling to adapt to sudden widowhood.  Order both in either print or e-book format from