Don Follis: 'Boy, the world needs more people like that'

Don Follis: 'Boy, the world needs more people like that'

On a recent afternoon, the temperature was 105 degrees in Phoenix, Ariz. The asphalt outside Fry's Grocery Store was sticky beneath my Birkenstocks. It was nearly 5 p.m. and the parking lot was packed with patrons.

But not to worry. The traffic was flowing smoothly, and I soon saw why. Fry's employs special-needs people. Two young men were directing traffic in the parking lot. A third was collecting stray carts and offering them to patrons entering the store. One of the employees said to everyone he saw, "Nice to see you. Nice to see you." Most people smiled and responded, "Nice to see you, too."

Obviously, not all jobs are about making lots of money or meeting increased production demands. On the asphalt parking lot, it sure looked like the jobs of three Fry employees mostly was about helping the entire community be a better place.

One of the young men wore a name tag that said, "Kyle." He took the lead, directing cars into the parking spaces, acting a little like a parking attendant at a sporting event. Just beyond the grocery store parking lot was a guy at the corner wildly twirling one of those signs made in the shape of an arrow. It said, "Enchiladas & Burritos — half price." Kyle caught the sign holder's attention and waved to him.

When drivers pulled into the parking places, Kyle gave them two thumbs-up and said, "Perfect. Just perfect." Some of the people called him by name. One woman hugged him, thanked him for giving her a cart and said, "Take care of yourself, Kyle."

Kyle immediately pulled a big water bottle out of a holder around his waist, took a drink, and gave the woman another thumbs-up. "See," he said, holding up his water bottle, "I'm taking care of myself."

You know that feeling that comes over you when you are certain about something? Watching the parking lot dance executed by the three Fry's employees, I immediately had this conviction. "Holy cow. These guys are God's favorites." I even said it out loud while standing next to my car. God is sovereign over everyone — the fragile as well as the hearty. Are the gentle, humble folks of the world a little closer to God's heart? Yes, I'm sure they are.

One of the three young Fry workers didn't speak. He just worked quietly amidst the noise, taking his cues from the other two. His silence contrasted with the noise of everyday life where there always seems to be a certain agitation that is stirred up in people, especially around 5 o'clock in the afternoon in a grocery store parking lot. The cars darting here and there didn't appear to faze him in the least.

After I picked up my supplies and was heading for the door, I saw the three young men sitting on a bench just inside the air-conditioned store. One of the managers had brought them a snack and bottles of cold water. He said, "Good work, men. Good work. Cool off for a few minutes and then we'll go back at it."

Driving out of the parking lot — receiving a final thumbs-up from Kyle — I realized I witnessed three lessons:

Self-assurance and humility is a wonderful combination. These young men displayed confidence in helping people that was obvious and infectious. They were proud of their ability to get the cars parked and the carts distributed. Their judgment was good and their kindness was innocent and selfless.

Second, whatever the occasion, genuinely helping other people almost always makes the gratitude level rise. Imagine smiling at 5 p.m. in a crowded grocery store parking lot? Watching this happy crew, a Bible verse from Philippians chapter 2 popped into my mind. "Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility count others better than yourself."

Third, as we read in Proverbs 17:22, a cheerful heart is good medicine. At the end of tough day, surely there is no law against someone showing you a little kindness in a crowded grocery store parking lot.

As soon as I saw my wife, I told her what happened. I said, "Boy, the world needs more people like that."

Don Follis has pastored in Champaign-Urbana for 35 years. He directs retreats and coaches leaders via Contact him at, and you can follow him on Twitter at @donfollis.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Religion

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments