FAIRFIELD — For almost 15 years, Norma Barrick greeted shoppers to Walmart. First on Chadbourne Road. When the supercenter opened in late 2010, she cut the ribbon.
In September 2011, while visiting her granddaughter in Utah, Barrick, 83, fell of a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle she was driving. That landed her a three-week stay in the hospital with seven broken ribs, a lacerated lung and a broken collarbone.
“What kept me going was thinking about going back to work,” she said.
Barrick never returned to work at Walmart. In September, she officially retired. Her legs and feet wouldn’t let her stand for hours.
“It was the worst thing I ever had to do,” Barrick said of the decision as she choked back tears.
She battled breast cancer on the job, scheduling her treatments after her work day was over. In 2006, she was rear-ended on Highway 12 by a car going about 75 mph.
“It didn’t hurt me,” she said. “I kept on working. I was angry that my car was a mess.”
It was with a heavy heart that Barrick decided it was time to put away her greeter name tag.
“It was a good time in my life,” she said.
She has an open invitation to return, she said.
“I guess if I am able, I’ll go back,” she said.
Now, those hours spent working will be used for leisure activities, such as travel. Barrick and her son, Michael Barrick, just returned from a trip to Utah. This time she didn’t tempt fate and jump on a four-wheel drive. Rather, she spent time “supervising” the work around her grandaughter’s new home.
A neighbor originally suggested Barrick apply for the Walmart job. She needed the money. Her husband had a died several years earlier and her son was not working.
Shortly after she was hired, he got a job. But Barrick loved her job so much, she didn’t want to quit.
“I wanted to stay as long as they would let me,” Barrick said. “It grew on me.”
When her son suggested she cut back on hours, Barrick refused. The job was an all-or-nothing. Either she would work 38 hours a week or none at all.
“It did her good. It got her out of the house,” Michael Barrick said of his mother’s job. Today, he’s the one making trips to Walmart.
Along the way she met many wonderful people, including one couple who frequently brought her flowers.
“All in all, I enjoyed the people and chatting with the people. It was a good experience for me. I’d do it all over again,” she said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.