John Walker FILE

“Love people, not things; use things, not people.” – Spencer W. Kimball

In 1974, the state of Wyoming hired me to move the state’s law library. I was 17 years old at the time. The job was supposed to begin in June and end in mid-August. It was a physically demanding job. Day after day and week after week, I moved the entire law library from one location in what is now the State Supreme Court building to other locations within the same building. The dusty old books quickly soiled my clothes, so I usually wore old jeans and a T-shirt to work.

I completed moving the entire library about a month sooner than anticipated. So, I was loaned out to various state departments for the remainder of my summer employment. For about a week, I was on loan to the Wyoming State Library’s mail room. My mail room boss was a kind and calm fellow who I shall call Carl.

While working for Carl, I spent most of my time shipping books and unboxing books. I often stamped the outgoing shipments with a “Library Rate” stamp. I must confess that upon occasion I would place a slip of paper under the stamp’s letter “e” when stamping the packages so that the message on the package read, “Library Rat”. I knew that I had been caught when the State Librarian pinned one of my Library Rat stamps onto our break room’s bulletin board.

On one occasion, I was alone and working in the mail room when a large fellow who I shall call Ed entered the room while pushing a large hand truck. We made eye contact, and Ed authoritatively told me that I needed to help him unload a large cargo truck. The truck was filled with very large and heavy boxes. It did not take long for me to become extremely tired as I removed many boxes from the truck and placed them into a storage area located within the mail room.

Carl returned to the mail room after about half of the boxes had been removed from the truck. Carl asked me why I was unloading the cargo truck. I told Carl that Ed told me that I needed to help him with the project. Carl politely told me that Ed was not employed by the state of Wyoming and that he was not one of my many bosses.

A few minutes later, Ed returned to the mail room. When he saw Carl, a sheepish expression immediately appeared upon his face. Ed then, using the hand cart, completed performing the task that he had assigned to me. I learned an important lesson that day: Use things, not people.

A few months ago, while vacationing in the United Arab Emirates, I was seated at a small breakfast restaurant with my grandsons, Johnny (age 10) and Cloud (age 8) in Dubai. I was wearing my favorite pair of comfortable cargo pants.

For some reason that I cannot comprehend, the restaurant sold hot chocolate (the outside temperature was 112 degrees). I also don’t know why Cloud decided that he wanted a cup of hot chocolate as part of his breakfast, but that is what he ordered.

While we were chatting, Johnny told us a funny story. Unfortunately for me, Cloud had a mouthful of hot chocolate at the time. Cloud’s laughter began with him spewing hot chocolate all over my prized pair of pants. Both Johnny and Cloud did their utmost to contain their laughter as they awaited my response. With a smile on my face, I let Cloud know that I had not ordered hot chocolate. Both boys then relaxed and began to laugh.

As I reflect upon this experience, I must acknowledge that there is nothing that I own that is more important to me than my relationship with Cloud. In fact, I cannot possibly imagine any worldly possession that could be more important to me than my grandson. Love people, not things.

John M. Walker is an attorney and lifelong Wyomingite who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

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