It was a cold winter's day when I first met her. She came into the waiting area of the automotive department at the mall where I was waiting for them to put new tires on our van. I watched her as she put down a large plastic bag that didn't seem to have very much in it. She took off her coat, hat, and gloves and immediately went to work. She was a woman with a purpose and knew exactly what she was doing as she poured the water for a fresh pot of coffee. Next, she began cleaning the counter, scrubbing it with a wet cloth and straightening up the room.
I commented on how nice she made the room look and she asked me if I would like a cup of coffee. "Sure", I said, "The coffee smells wonderful." Then I asked her how long she had worked there. "Oh honey", "I don't work here", she said. "I've gotten to know the folks here and I like to help them out." She explained, "It's just something I can do to make people smile and you never know, it just might make a difference."
"My name is Wilma, "she said, "I've been retired for years." I also introduced myself to Wilma and she continued to tell me all about herself. It seems Wilma had lived several blocks from the mall in a trailer court since her husband died. She told me that she took the bus to the mall everyday and brought her plastic bag full of goodies. "Did you see Bill over at that desk?", she asked. "He just loves pretzels so I always put some of them in my bag for him. Now, Margie, over there at the drug store," she continued, "She's always so tired, she works two jobs, you know, and I just like to see her eyes light up when I bring her a Dr. Pepper." As Wilma talked on I discovered that she made the rounds everyday to many places in and around the mall where she brought cookies, candy, or whatever she had to the people that had become her friends.
"My son lives in Florida," Wilma explained, "He tells me that I shouldn't spend my money like this, but it's something I can do to make people smile and maybe it will make a difference." she said once again. "I went down there to Florida to visit my son," she smiled, "He wants me to stay there but he doesn't want me to go out alone and I'm just bored to death, but then I wouldn't want him to know that", Wilma laughed. "I have my friends here. Why, just this morning, I stopped at the grocery store and I pushed all those carts inside for George." "He works there, you know, and he isn't getting any younger….must be at least 80 and he has to push all those carts inside by himself, so I helped him." (I had to smile to myself as I knew that Wilma couldn't be far from 80 herself)
"Do you ever enter contests?," Wilma asked. Before I could answer, she went on, "I always enter all the contests in the stores and sometimes I win," she said with excitement. "You know those life-sized cardboard figures you see in the stores?" Wilma asked, "Well, I won Patrick Swayze", she laughed, "and now I got him right in my living room!" "Well", I winked at her, "Just as long as you don't keep him in your bedroom". She threw up her hands at that and laughed harder than ever and then went on to tell me about some of the things she had won and shared with her friends. I told her what a nice thing that she was doing and again she said, "Oh, it's just something I can do to make people smile and you never know, it just might make a difference."
It was time for Wilma to catch her bus and my van was ready to go. Wilma's bag was about empty except for some M&Ms for her next door neighbor. I told Wilma I hoped we would meet again sometime.
As I left, I thought about Wilma's bag and all the good that she was doing for others. It might seem to some as insignificant, but it's often the little things that count and make life easier. I thought you should know about Wilma because, "It's just something I can do to make people smile and you never know, it just might make a difference."
"Inasmuch as yehave done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
© Pamela R. Blaine December 2000
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