There is a lot of talk in the news these days about mental health and with good reason. In 2004, a Gallup poll recorded that 13 percent of adults had visited a therapist or mental health professional. In 2022, that number mushroomed to 23 percent. Many say the increased demand for services began shortly after the pandemic.
People would not need to pay a counselor to listen to their problems if human beings would just be…well…more human. That means recognizing the person in front of you has basic needs of the soul, such as compassion.
I discovered this recently during a stop at Walmart. This gargantuan mega store is the last place you would expect to find someone who cares about others.
Lucy the Walmart Employee
All that I wanted was one simple product. I gingerly approached an employee named Lucy to ask for help. She was talking with someone I thought was her best friend. The person graciously stepped aside as Lucy led me to the next aisle, but could not find the item I wanted.
“Okay,” I said, “You can go back to the conversation you were having with your friend.”
Lucy explained that the woman was not a friend, but a regular customer.
“I am actually glad you called me away, because she always latches on to me to talk about her problems,” Lucy responded.
She clearly did not find it easy to put up with such a person, yet she listened to this troubled soul’s problems patiently. What a consolation!
I thanked Lucy for her kindness to this person and found out that what I witnessed was not an isolated incident.
Lucy works in the pharmacy and explained, “People will call in for a prescription and I will sometimes talk with them for half an hour.”
When people need medicine for some ailment, they will call for help. However, in this case, they keep Lucy on the phone because they also have sufferings of the soul about which no one seems to be concerned. Lucy confirmed this when she said her “counseling” frustrates her fellow employees. This disinterested concern is the crux of the matter and the reason why my fortuitous encounter with Lucy meant so much.
Providing Light in a Dark World
In our frenetically intemperate world, taking time for fellow human beings—especially those who are suffering—is not “productive.” We live in what could be called a “spreadsheet world” where people are merely data entries in a system to make the machine run more smoothly. This materialistic idea was expressed by Henry Ford who once said, “Why is it that every time I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached.” People like Mr. Ford do not have a problem with the brain but the soul. This mentality is so different from a person like Lucy who is actually willing to share the burden of others.
Her value as a Walmart employee is much greater than a person who occupies a place on a spreadsheet. Those who suffer from depression and mental illness pay good money for a counselor or a psychiatrist. Lucy does not charge a dime for her time.
The day our paths crossed was a challenging one for me. Although I was not in need of a counselor, her solicitude for others was deeply reassuring. It is easy to lose hope in humanity. All it takes to regain that hope is to see someone who really cares and is not looking for anything in return. They are just willing to help.
After leaving, I reflected on her name. Lucy is the feminine version of the given name Lucius. In Latin, it means light. How appropriate! Without realizing it, Lucy provides much-needed light in a very dark world.
What Lucy did, appeared to be a natural act of virtue. We can only imagine how much greater the impact of such acts could be when assisted by God’s grace.
This encounter fits into my Only in America article series. So many unexpected things can be found in America. This caring soul is one of them. Finding such light in a Walmart is even more extraordinary.
Photo Credit: © Sundry Photography – stock.adobe.com