Life Lessons From Walmart: How My Part-Time Job Helps Me Write Better

by | Nov 27, 2018 | Heidi's Updates

Many of you might not know this, but when I’m not writing I work part-time at Walmart. This used to embarrass me. Other authors are nurses or teachers or work in corporate marketing. Me? I throw on a super attractive blue smock and work retail. It’s not glamorous, but it’s been one of the things I’ve been especially grateful for of late.

I entered the Walmart workforce a few years ago as a Lawn and Garden associate. Two months after I was hired, I received a call from my agent that my dream publisher had offered me a contract.

Now, two books later and with more on the way, I have switched departments and work at Walmart Pharmacy. The extra cash is of course helpful, but do you want to know another reason I love my job at Walmart?

Every day, it teaches me something.

Like last Saturday morning. The store was packed, as usual, and I was bagging prescriptions behind the pharmacy counter. As I was waiting for the printer to roll out patient and medication information, I looked up at the many people passing.

Most who pass don’t look toward the pharmacy, unless they have business with us. Most who pass are everyday shoppers and I get to glimpse but fifteen seconds of their day as they push their carriages toward the Personal Care or Check Out sections of the store.

Last Saturday, I caught a glimpse of a mother pushing her son in a shopping cart. It got my attention because the boy was old (probably about eleven) and he was sitting in the carriage. Then I realized the boy had Down syndrome.

My first unmonitored (and very honest) emotion was pity for the mother. Her son would always be more needy than those with 46 chromosomes. Would he ever be out on his own? Drive? Go off to college? Would she ever have grandchildren? Did she ever get breaks?

Then something happened.

He held out his hand to her, the sweetest smile upon his face, expectation in his eyes. And she took it, returning his smile, their fingers entwined as she continued to push the carriage out of my view.

I knew I had witnessed something incredibly special. Private, even. Just a snapshot of a moment in the routine of their life, and yet it brought tears to my eyes.

Because it was in that moment that I realized she was the blessed one. I had glimpsed and assumed and been proven wrong. For just a moment, the layers of what makes a worthy life were peeled back for me to see, and you want to know what I saw?

Love. Hope. Grace, and joy.

This is what life is about. This is why I write. And this is why I don’t have any plans of quitting my Walmart job even if I hit the NY Times Bestseller List one day. 😉

Because there’s some things writing success can’t teach me. But I’m becoming more and more convinced, Walmart–people, really–can teach.

I think I read about it this morning in the first book of Timothy, too. In the end of this book, Paul is encouraging Timothy to put his hope not in the things of this world, but in something greater. He’s telling him to “lay up treasure” for eternity, to “take hold of the life that is truly life.”

He’s talking about the treasure many of us will commemorate this upcoming season–Jesus. He’s talking about the Giver of Life. And as I contemplate that precious mother and son sharing a moment in the middle of Walmart, I too am contemplating true life. Maybe not by the world’s standards, or even my own, but one that is measured in the eyes of a God who is love.

As we head into this season, may you be blessed as you contemplate what really matters. May you “take hold of the life that is truly life.”

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