Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Thursday Aug 4th - 2011

Currently I'm two and half hours away from Guelph on a much needed family vacation. This time away has given me pause to reflect on a lot of things. One of them is the ongoing Carden Street fiasco. The camping site where we're staying provides wi-fi so I still have access to councillor emails, Twitter, ongoing emails from merchants and Guelph's local media.


This week away has been a blessing and I thought it appropriate to share a true story with all parties involved that really impacted me.


It's about a boy named Johnny. One day he went to a training event led by Barbara, a motivational speaker. She was talking to 3,000 front line workers for a supermarket chain--truck drivers, cashiers and stockers.


She was speaking on how people can make a difference. She described how every interaction with another person is a chance to create a memory, to bless some one's life. She talked about how important it is to look for those moments. 


About a month later, she received a call from 19 year old baggger named Johnny. Johnny proudly informed her that he had down syndrome, and then he told her his story.

" I liked what you talked about. But I didn't think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I'm just a bagger." Then he had an idea: he decided that every night when he came home from work, he would find a "thought for the day" for his next shift. It would be something positive, some reminder of how good it was to be alive, or how much people matter, or how many gifts we are surrounded by. If he couldn't find one, he would make one up.

Every night his dad would help him enter the saying six times on a page on the computer; then Johnny would print 50 pages. He would take a pair of scissors and carefully cut 300 copies and sign every one.

Johnny put the stack of pages next to him while he worked. Each time he finished bagging some one's groceries, he would put his saying on top of the last bag. Then he would stop what he was doing, look the person straight in the eye, and say, "I've put something special in your bag. I hope it helps you have a good day. Thanks for coming here."


A month later, the store manager called Barbara. "Barbara, you won't believe what's happening here. I was making my rounds, and when I got up to the cashiers, the line at Johnny's checkout was three times longer than anyone else's. It went all the way down the frozen food aisle."

"I got on the loudspeaker to get more checkout lines open, but I couldn't get any of the customers to move." They said, "That's okay. We'll wait. We want to be in Johnny's line." One woman came up to me and grabbed my hand, saying, "I used to shop in your store once a week. Now I come in every time I go by--I want to get Johnny's thought for the day." 


Johnny is doing more than filling bags with groceries; he is filling lives with hope.


My hope for the Carden Street merchants, the City, the construction workers and even me is this: May we all realize the potential we have to impact some one's life in a positive way. Let's speak words of encouragement. When we think something good, God help us to say it. 


Criticism, sarcasm, retaliation and further negativity hasn't worked too well in my opinion. I wonder if a little encouragement and hope might work a bit better?


Thank you,

Cam Guthrie

Ward 4 Councillor - Guelph

view comments (1)

christine.billings@guelph.ca | 519-826-0567

HomeWard 4 NewsLinksAccountability Benchmark SystemReport GraffitiContact Christine