Randi Perkins was shopping at her usual Walmart, but that day was an unusual day and it led to a viral Facebook post that has people in tears.
At this Walmart, a man named Mr. Billie who had been a greeter for a number of years was suddenly moved to sit on a stool in the electronics section instead. Randi was in line when she noticed that Mr. Billie was trying to get her attention. She went to him to see what was happening when he suddenly gave her a stick and sang a little song. She was worried that she would lose her spot in line…but then Mr. Billie began a conversation.
He told her a bit about himself. He was 85 years old, and he and his wife both still worked to support their family. He doesn’t want to lose his job because then it would mean his wife would need to work even harder instead.
I learned that he served our country in the Air Force for 8+ years, and he can tell you how many months and days. I learned he was the only one of 15 children to graduate from high school, not because he was smart but because he was lucky. I learned his second cousin was Brigadier General Chuck Yeagar, the man who broke the sound barrier. I learned that Mr Billie was in Alaska when it became a state and he remembers the flag being raised for the first time at the fort he was stationed. I watched as countless veterans came by to greet him, and Mr. Billie stood to salute them. We talked about how electronics are going to be the death of family histories being passed down.
He remembers sitting around the fireplace with his parents and siblings and them sharing stories of their lives. We don’t do that anymore. I learned that although they didn’t really talk about it, he believes his daddy was militia, not formal military. I learned about him being afraid to dance while he was stationed in California, even though they offered professional dance lessons. I learned that he had 2 children, and he lost his son several years ago.
He told me I was the prettiest girl in the whole store, not to ever stop smiling, and that I light up the room. It was the best 30 minutes I’ve spent in a long time! Mr Billie reminded me to slow down, get off my phone, and invest in someone else.”
She decided to pass on his story, just like he had done for her. It was touching and real and there was nothing on her phone that was more important in that moment than connecting with the veteran who desperately needed to keep his job and just wanted to have a nice conversation.
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