Brittany Walton was busy behind the customer service counter at the Walmart Supercenter on July 15 when another associate said a blind man needed help with his shopping.
“I asked another associate to take my spot because I just felt the need to help him,” said the soft-spoken Walton, 31. “I’m so glad I did.”
The two-hour walk through Walmart with the customer she calls “Mr. Roy” has since been seen around the world.
Meghann Shaw of Biloxi was walking behind the two held hands as they talked and shopped. The sight touched Shaw.
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After shopping behind them for about 10 minutes — she and the man seemed to have the same items on their lists — Shaw was inspired to take a photo with her phone. The next day, she shared it with her friends on Facebook.
One of her friends persuaded her to make the post public so they could share it. “As soon as I hit public,” Shaw said, “it was share after share.”
When the post reached 800 shares, Shaw changed its status back to private. But then someone tagged Walton, who couldn’t see it. Shaw returned the post to public status. By Friday afternoon, it had 8,000 shares and 22,000 reactions. Many of those reactions were hearts.
What’s more, Shaw’s post has been shared by Yahoo Style online, New York and Atlanta media outlets, and none other than Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who in a public Facebook post on Friday commended Walton for “excellence in customer service.”
Shaw’s post proved to be a real balm for social-media users. “With all the hate in the world she gave love,” Shaw wrote with the photo. “Without the man seeing her, she showed him pure compassion and love.”
Walton thinks the difference in their races, at a time of racial tension in the country, was a factor in the post going viral.
“I didn’t think it would reach this far,” the single mother of three said. “But I’m glad it has. No matter what color you are or what your position is, there’s always someone there to lend a hand.”
Store manager Anthony Chisesi said superior customer service is built into Walmart’s culture. Sales associates “take ownership,” he said, helping any disabled person who asks.
“I think it’s rewarding for them,” he said. “I’ve never had a problem finding a volunteer who would assist a disabled person with shopping.
“The beautiful thing is, when people do things like this, they’re not doing it for attention. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
He believes Walton’s act of kindness will inspire others who see the Facebook post.
The shopping excursion with Mr. Roy clearly left Walton with a good feeling, regardless of the publicity. She could tell he needed someone to talk to. She took his hand — something she would not normally do.
“I wanted him to feel safe with me,” she said. “I wanted him to feel love and compassion. I wanted him to feel it was all about him.”
He was new in town. He told her he had been blinded at the age of 26 in an automobile accident. He also said he had a crush on a woman who also is legally blind. He wanted to buy her a mug for her cocoa.
Walton picked out a mug of cream and gold. She told him it was very pretty. He said, “It has to be pretty, even though we can’t see.
“I told Mr. Roy that whenever he comes back, I would help him. He was such a sweet guy.”
About the series:
Our Kind of People is a feature in the Sun Herald and at SunHerald.com that spotlights South Mississippi people whose life or work is an inspiration to others.