Life with Logan: Mr. Gil and the power of positivity

Logan Smith | Manager of Content

Our companionships often determine our personalities. 

When I interact with negative people, I usually replicate their disposition. Likewise, I’m much more optimistic when I socialize with positive people.

That’s why whenever my family shopped at Walmart on Old Forrest Road in Lynchburg, Virginia, we always kept our eyes out for Gil Puzon, a dedicated cashier who embodied positivity better than most, happily greeting Walmart shoppers as he scanned items and organized them in  plastic bags. Whether he smiled, sang or simply engaged in light conversation, Gil’s positive attitude cultivated contentment and joy.

Even when the shopping lines exceeded their typical length, we always made an effort to check out at Gil’s station.   

To me, he was just “the happy Walmart cashier,” but I didn’t realize his impact until he unexpectedly passed away March 1 at age 81 in his home.

Facebook exploded with remorse, and Walmart even displayed a decorative table to honor his steadfast service and signature kindness.

I never knew him well because our interactions were brief, lasting no longer than a few moments as he scanned groceries. But I always left the building feeling better, if only a little.

According to the News & Advance obituary, Gil previously workek for NASA and other companies before enjoying the last 18 years of his retirement humbly working as a Walmart cashier. His constant glee reached more people than he realized, and he taught Lynchburg shoppers that even the smallest gestures can drastically transform someone’s disappointing day. 

We interact with hundreds of people every week, and each person has a different background. Some carry heavier predicaments than others, so always treat people with kindness and respect. You don’t have to sing like Gil, but sometimes a smile is all you need to boost someone’s mood. 

As I write this column, I also preach to myself. I’m far from perfect. My friends and family can testify to my shortcomings. I’m a sinner, saved by the grace of God.

Every person you interact with matters. The most important thing to remember is this: your attitude will directly affect your social sphere — either positively or negatively. It’s your choice. 

This doesn’t mean crying, criticizing or expressing disappointment is off limits. Sometimes, we need to voice our concerns and release our frustration, but that’s different than living a lifestyle of negativity and grumbling.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with positive influences. My dad is always a source of encouragement, and Emma Smith, our A-section copy editor, helps keep my head on straight. Our previous Champion graduate assistant, Nate Haywood, frequently rejuvenated my perception on work. 

The list of friends, family, coaches, teachers, teammates and coworkers trails forever, and I could never thank them enough.

The more I interact with positive people, the more enthusiastic I become. And as a result, more people are reached. Every day, I work to become a better me — you should do the same.

Be like Gil.

Gil Puzon

6 comments

  • He was a wonderful man and a special person in my life since 2003. His passing has been tremendously difficult for me. He was a genuine friend and angel. I truly believe God put this angel in our lives to teach us a lesson. God felt as if he completed the task given last Friday morning and called him home. Only angels go to sleep and wake up in Heaven. My life will never be the same. I am a better person because of Gil.

  • He was a wonderful cashier,the best .he is greatly missed. Idont think there is another like him.may he rext in peace.

  • Your post of ones life told here, is a awesome way of seeing someone on the positive side. Well put.

  • He was such an amazing and uplifting man! He put laughter in your heart and mind no matter what your mood or day was like! He had such a huge impact on so many lives And portrayed what we all should strive to be which is blessed thankful and happy! He loved life not things, and in talking to him he loved his family! I will so miss talking to him, hearing him sing even if I was in a different line! Walmart isn’t the same now that he’s no longer there! RIP Gil! I will miss you!

  • William Herbert

    This is so true. I am married to a Wonderful Filipino woman and was blessed to know Gil on a personal level. He was truly an awesome person. The Filipinos always seem to find good in even the bad situations it’s just the way they live . Thanks for your article like you I have a fall short every day but I think if I can learn how to live more like Mr Puzon I will be a better person!

  • Loved the write up about Mr. Gil. I think we all could be a better person if we tried a little harder.we all have bad days but having Christ in our hearts helps us put Him first and will help us be a better person.

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