Life is as Good, Bad Or Ugly as We Make It


Jeff Dunham the comedian has a wonderful way of speaking out on subjects through his puppets. My favorite character of his is Walter the old guy. That is probably because I am old as well and feel at times just like Walter feels about life. I don’t work for Wal-Mart but I took a part time job with them once. My assigned job was working in the shoe department. That isn’t a department for an old man to work. It was similar to working in a good will store. One thing just stood out about people who shop at Wal-Mart, they come from varied American backgrounds. I saw educated people and those who probably never graduated from grammar school. There were some rich and lots of poor and many in between.

There was this very old Lady who worked as a greeter for Wal-Mart. She was the sweetest person and a delight to know and when you were greeted she gave everyone the same sweet smile and welcome. People’s lives were brightened by coming through the door where she stood greeting them. Most who came always spent a few seconds talking with her and they always left her with a smile on their faces. The other door was busy but not as busy as Gladys’s door. She was the sweetest little lady and everyone loved her.

Now on the other door it wasn’t as busy and people still came in there but it was not the same chipper welcoming greeting they received from Gladys. Old Bill was the custodian of the North door and he was not friendly but was very businesslike. Oh he was saying welcome but he didn’t mean it because he didn’t want to work at his age because life wasn’t easy for Bill in his old age. His wife was ill and he needed the extra money to pay for her medical expenses. So every day he would come in and greet people and go through the motions with very little emotion. He was there every day and worked every day but he wasn’t happy doing it. I got to know both of them because I was curious of why they were so vastly different.

Gladys was a widow and lived on social security. Her husband passed away one year after he retired and she was still under retirement age. She started working for Wal-Mart and just stayed with them and worked until she was well into her eighties. I went to work there when she was in her middle seventies. I was in my middle sixties. She was a mother of four children who were married and she had fourteen grandchildren. She was a stay at home mom until her husband passed away and her business skills were limited. One thing she knew is what women wanted and where it was located in the store. She also had a great memory and called people by name when they would come into the store. She just loved life and people.

I made a little survey of the people who entered into the shoe department. While serving them I asked which door they entered. About 60% said the South entrance. Then I noticed something very interesting. Those who came in the South door where Gladys was a greeter were more friendly and nicer than those who entered the North door where Bill worked. I also noted even when I came into the North door it wasn’t the same. Gladys had an effect on people’s attitudes, not all people but a noticeable one, especially to me. God bless all the Gladys’s in the world.

After I left there I would just stop by to say hello to her. What a delightful person. Bill was a different guy. He worked until he was seventy and then is when his wife became ill. He just fought with life. Instead of rolling with the punches he stood there taking every punch like he was Rocky Balboa. Life was a battle and he was fighting with everything he had to win. His attitude was “damn the torpedo’s full speed ahead.” After his wife passed away he stayed on for a few months but hadn’t changed. I figured it wasn’t her illness he was fighting but it was life and circumstances. Bill left and I saw him a couple of times after that. He never remembered me and just grumbled when I said hello.

Gladys finally left but didn’t quit on life. I went to the hospital for surgery and she was working as a hostess on the reception desk at the hospital. She was still the sweet little lady who called me by name when she saw me.

Life can be great or bad but only you can make it either way. It all depends on the individual as to how they deal with life. Make it good, bad or ugly it is all up to the individual. Most of us probably fall into the in betweens of these two people, some good, some bad, and some ugly. Me after knowing Gladys I prefer the good and try very hard to be kind and gentle to those around me. I don’t always succeed but it still is more fun than fighting like, Rocky Balboa. Remember life is as good, bad or ugly as we make it.

Robert D. Ashford was a Marine during the cold war and is now retired, after 50 years of construction management. He is a keen genealogist and loves humor. He watches the political horizons and likes to write commentary on what’s next.