Many of us college students strive to get an education to change the world or become happier. V.J. Smith’s book, “The Richest Man in Town,” shows that an education, money, or an attractive appearance are not needed to make a difference.
The book is a true story about Smith’s relationship with a Wal-Mart cashier named Marty, short for Aaron Martinson.
After ringing up the sale, Marty would shake the Wal-Mart customer’s hand and flash a warming smile. When a customer had a concern or problem, Marty would truly listen to the person, instead of “faking his concern.”
Marty grew up during tough times. He left school in the ninth grade to work for a traveling carnival. At the age of 18, Marty was drafted. He fought in the Philippines during WWII.
Throughout his life, Marty went through financial problems. However, that never stopped him from enjoying life.
Marty felt that relationships were the most important aspect of life. Through helping and caring for others, he found true enjoyment in life.
Although Marty never finished high school, earned high wages, or walked on the “Red Carpet,” he became well-known throughout the community because of his generosity and thoughtfulness. He was the grand marshal for the Brookings Festival of Lights Parade, won the national Wal-Mart Hero Award, and received more than 400 get-well cards while he was ill.
“The Richest Man in Town” is brilliantly written. Throughout the book, Marty reminded me of different people in my life who have went beyond the norm to help me. The book was so real that it forced me to step back and reevaluate my priorities. Fame and fortune will not allow you to make a difference in others’ lives. A simple handshake, friendly smile, and hug can go a long way in the world.
Smith, the Executive Director for the SDSU Alumni Association, also helped write “The College on the Hill.” Smith has been a professional speaker for ten years.
“The Richest Man in Town” can be purchased at the University bookstore.