Who is Rocky Balboa?: Robert “Robbie” Gerard’s Story

The morning sun streams in through the Walgreens window over the bright, white snow and blue sky. It looks sunny and warm outside, like when I went to Florida, but I’m no fool. I know better.

Like clockwork, it’s Monday and I’m ready to begin my shift at Walgreens. I get right to work. The customers are shuffling in from the bitter cold “polar vortex” I keep hearing about, with snow on their shoes.
I follow them with my mop, so no one slips and falls on the trail of melted snow puddles from the door to the pharmacy. I try not to get too close, but sometimes customers turn around and wonder what I’m up to. When they do, I smile at them and they smile right back. I say, “Welcome to Walgreen’s. How are you today?”

Sometimes they answer and sometimes they don’t, but they always smile.

My manager Craig tells me that’s why I just earned my employee service award; he says I notice everything and I’m always looking for ways to help. Most of all, Craig tells me I make everyone smile—that I’m a great big warm hug on a cold day, like today. He says I bring magic to his store.
I always check in and ask Craig, “How are you, buddy?” He says, “I’m doing just fine.”
Craig says he appreciates it that I care how he’s doing.

I thought I was just doing my job.

The Walgreen’s aisles are towers of all sorts of things that I love and other things I don’t: candy, sweets, magazines, toys and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos that customers are all the time trying to find. My job is to keep them nice and neat. Most customers are good about putting things back where they belong, but a few others can be messy. I sometimes wonder to myself if they were born in a barn.

If a customer asks me about the candy we have, I can tell them anything they want to know, but I don’t know about all those medicines; I find Craig when customers ask me about them. I have no idea about make-up or nail polish stuff and feel a little bashful when I’m in that section. It’s not “my thing,” but the pictures of Carrie Underwood and all the other pretty ladies are nice to look at when I’m straightening up—so I don’t mind cleaning up that section very much, at all.

My favorite part of working at Walgreen’s is hearing the music that plays on the radio. I like AC/DC, but that doesn’t usually play on Walgreen’s radio station. Every once in a while I hear my music. Carrie Underwood comes on a lot.

Did I tell you that I like Carrie Underwood?
My shift is almost up and it went by so fast. I make my rounds one more time and am sure to tell everyone, “Goodbye! See you next Monday!”

Now it’s time to go.

I’m off to my second job at the Hillcroft workshop. I have lots of friends there. People tell me I am a rock star worker, all the time, especially Mrs. Brenda. Mrs. Brenda is my good friend, looks out for me, and is always saying really nice and kind of embarrassing things about me. She’s tells everyone how awesome my wavy, dark hair is, how sweet I am, and how hard I work. I don’t know why, but I get embarrassed easily when people say nice things about me. Mr. Todd, who I see a lot and always has my back at home, tells me I’m trouble. Maybe he should tell Mrs. Brenda that.

Just the other day, someone told me I looked like the actor Sly Stallone, who plays boxer Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies.

I asked, “Who’s Rocky Balboa?” I don’t know who he is, but now I want to watch the “Rocky” movies.
I’m not Rocky Balboa—I’m me. But maybe I could be Robbie Balboa, just this once.

Written by:
Aimee Robertson-Fant is a mother of three, co-founder of Muncie Matters, and is a community organizer for the Muncie Action Plan. She has been a public educator for at-risk youth, a photojournalist, and was a storyteller and photographer for last year’s Facing Project in Muncie: Facing Autism.

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