Barbara Glanz, a motivational instructor, was speaking to three thousand employees of a grocery store chain. Everybody from truck drivers to cashiers to managers were found in the crowd.
So was Johnny, a 19-year old bagger, who suffered from Down Syndrome.
Barbara told the employees she believed everyone could make a difference. She hung pictures and inspirational quotes on the wall. She told a few touching stories, and then gave everyone her phone number and left.
About a month later, Barbara received a phone call from one of the convention attendees. It was Johnny.
“Barbara, I liked what you talked about,” he said. “But I didn’t think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I’m just a bagger. But then I had an idea!”
He went on to tell her that every night before he went to work, he would find a “thought for the day” for his next shift. It would always be positive, something to remind himself of how good it was to be alive or how much people matter or how love abounds. If he couldn’t find one, he’d just make one up.
Every night, his father would help him enter the saying into the computer where he’d then copy and paste it several times. He would then print off 50 pages and finally cut the pieces of paper into strips, so that each strip contained his “thought of the day.”
Johnny then took the strips of paper with him to work the next day. Each time he finished bagging someone’s groceries, he put one of his strips of paper into the last bag. Then he would look each customer in the eye and say, “I put a great saying in your bag just now. I hope it helps you have a good day. Thanks for coming here.”
Barbara thanked Johnny for sharing his story of making a difference with her.
A month went by and the store manager called Barbara. “Barbara, you won’t believe what’s happening around here! I was making my rounds the other day, and when I got up to the cashiers, the line at Johnny’s checkout was three times longer than anyone else’s. It stretched all the way down the frozen food aisle.”
He continued, “I got on the loudspeaker to get more checkout lines open, but I couldn’t persuade any of the customers to move. They just told me, ‘That’s OK. We’ll wait. We want to be in Johnny’s line.’ One woman came up to me, grabbed my hand, and said, “I used to shop in your store once a week. Now I come in every time I go by – I want to get Johnny’s thought for the day.’”
The manager knew that Johnny was doing more than filling grocery bags. The young man was filling lives with hope.
But then something even more wonderful happened.
A few months later, the store manager called Barbara up again. He said, “From time to time, our floral department has a broken flower or an unused corsage, and they used to just throw them away. Now, they go into the aisles, find an elderly woman or a little girl, and pin it on her. But it gets better! Our butchers aren’t just wrapping our customers’ meat; they’re also tying on a ribbon while they’re at it! Most importantly, the company who makes our carts are working on wheels that actually roll smoothly!”
All that because one 19-year old kid thought he could make a difference. This kid was faithful, and as a result, many people were blessed.
Hmmm…sounds like what Abraham was promised by God:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg. Zondervan, 2007, Pages 158-160.
Topics Illustrated Include:
Example (Being An)
Making a Difference
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)