It's no secret; I spend far too much time at Walmart; ours has a McDonald's near the front, and I can sit there with a never-ending supply of Diet Coke and either watch people or try to write. Mostly I watch people, because there in the Land of Low Low prices they're most like themselves, not realizing they're being watched.

A perk to being there is hearing Bill, the World's Friendliest Walmart Greeter do his magic; always happy, always gregarious, even the little kids light up when they see Bill, because he's always been unfailingly kind to them, and they feel like Bill is one person who is always happy to see them. And he gives them stickers for no reason other than to see them smile.

Hell, I walk into Walmart and see Bill, and I grin. He's just that infectious sort of nice.

But tonight...tonight the Spouse Thingy and I walked into Walmart in search of bathroom storage and crunchy kitty treats, and instead of Bill and his happy "Hiya!! How ya doin'?" there was a memorial wreath with his picture in the center. Hanging off to one side was his blue vest and name tag.

I didn't know Bill; I couldn't tell you a thing about him, other than those simple facts: he was a Walmart greeter, and he was so good at it that I liked sitting there in McD's, where I could hear him call the little girls "darlin'" and the little boys "Parder" or "Big guy." I don't know what he did on his off time, who the people in his real life are, what he liked to do for fun. But I wanted to cry when I saw that wreath; I had to blink back a tear or two at the simple idea that Bill won't ever be there to say hello to me when I come in for a Diet Coke and a people watching fix.

It's hard to fathom that you can miss someone you never really knew, but I think I'm going to miss Bill.

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