Life in ﾑgeneralﾒ Hard work, humor and heart
Compassion, combined with a sense of humor may be a rare commodity, but that combination can be found at the Dollar General store in Marlinton.
They are not on the shelf.ﾠ They are at the register, in the heart and mind of store manager David Corbett.
Corbett, who began his work career at the age of 14 in the Summer Youth Program, has managed the Dollar General store for 13 years, and is so much a part of the operation that many children refer to it as "Corbett's store."
Brad Dunz, of Marlinton, laughs as he talks about his longtime friend.
Dunz and his wife, Jennifer, have two young sons, Benjamin and Dillon.
"When we are traveling and we see a Dollar General store, the kids yell, "It's a Corbett store!" Dunz said.ﾠ "Any Dollar General, anywhere we go."
Dave and Debbie Peacock are frequent customers, as well.
"Going to the store is good entertainment," Debbie said.ﾠ "And if Dave has already been to the store and bought something, they'll tell me when I go in."
It's a benefit of living in a small town.
"It's the modern-day version of the old-time General Store," Dunz added.
"He [Corbett] has the ability to read people's personalities," Dave said.ﾠ "After just a couple of words, he knows how to talk them."
"And when to behave," Debbie laughed.
These friends have pegged Corbett's interaction with the public quite well.
"There's people that I've been friends with for 15 years, and I don't even know their names," Corbett said. "That's what happens when you work in retail."ﾠ
As a part of his friendly nature,ﾠ he is always willing to assist with community projects to help - well, just about anyone who needs help - food for the animal shelter, food for the food pantry, toys for the Needy Children's Christmas project and stuffed animals for kids at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.
Parks and Rec director Lauren Bennett is the youth group leader at Marlinton Presbyterian Church, and depends on help from the employees at Dollar General when she takes her group there for its annual shopping trip for the Needy Children's Christmas project.
"He's very accommodating," Bennett said. "I try to warn them a day ahead that we are coming.ﾠ But Corbett says ﾑthat's okay, we don't mind.'
"He's easy to work with and tries to make things easier and better for us - and he's funny," she added.
"About anything you need help with, Corbett will help," Debbie said.
The Peacocks shared a story that tells just how accommodating Corbett and the employees at Dollar General can be.
"One of our family members was caught shop-lifting," Debbie said. "But they didn't prosecute him."
It seems that Cooper, the Peacock's dog, took a trip to the Dollar General. Once he made his way inside, he helped himself to some doggie treats.ﾠ Rather than pressing charges against the "criminal," the employees paid his bill.
Everyone agrees that Corbett promotes a friendly atmosphere, and the store runs "like a well-oiled machine."
And how does Corbett accomplish that?
"A good manager needs to be able to delegate, but needs to be dependable, honest and hardworking," Corbett said.ﾠ "I have a good, honest relationship with my employees."
Corbett has been a part of Marlinton's business community for many years.ﾠ Prior to his tenure with Dollar General, he worked as assistant manager of Kentucky Fried Chicken, as well as assistant manager of Little General, before being promoted to manager.
But there is more to Corbett that what is seen in the world of retail.
In his "offﾠ hours" he has quietly made choices to do what's right, rather than what's popular, and those choices have not gone unnoticed by those who know him.
"He provides a home for his mother and sister," Debbie said.ﾠ "He's devoted to them."
Corbett admits that he has "a heart for the elderly and the handicapped."
"Treat people the way you want to be treated, and you'll go the distance," he said.
Those are more than mere words to him.
Corbett does provide a home for his mother, Margaret, and his 42-year-old, handicapped sister, Anna Mae, and he values the things he has learned from them.
"ﾠMom raised me," he said.ﾠ "Everything I know, I know from her - honesty, to treat people as they want to be treated and to respect them."
He attended college for one semester, but made a decision to come home and take care of his "mom and Annie."
"There are people who move away and think they have better jobs," Corbett said.ﾠ "But a lot of people have maintained jobs and made a good living here. I've been able to maintain jobs here.ﾠ I've worked my whole life."
"Do the right thing," he added.ﾠ "Sometimes it may not be enough, but at least I can sleep at night. You don't always need college. You'll always be that person where you came from."
Annie has benefited from her brother being "that person."ﾠ
Many years ago he was the "designated brother" who sat with Annie on the school bus.
"I decided right then that I would always be there for her," Corbett said.
Time spent with Annie is time well-spent.
To offer his sister the things that other kids had, he took her horseback riding and on the paddleboats at Watoga State Park.
"And she likes to go out to eat," Corbett added.
But Annie has been there for him, as well.
Rather than shaking hands, Annie pats people's hands to let them know she likes them.
September 11 is a date that is firmly ingrained into the minds of all Americans.ﾠ It is ingrained two-fold in Corbett's mind.
In 1993 Annie was sick and her weight had dropped to 50 pounds.
"We thought we were going to lose her," Corbett said.ﾠ "I sat by her bed and patted her hand."
Three weeks later, on September 11, Corbett fell victim to a what is a rare occurrence in this area.
While working the night shift at Little General, he was shot during an armed robbery.
"I woke up in the hospital in Charleston," Corbett said. "And Annie was there, patting my hand.ﾠ
"Even the handicapped know people are there for them.ﾠ And she was there for me."
Corbett doesn't believe in labels.
"If you're good, you're good," he said. "I always treat everybody the same."
When it comes to the old adage, "forgive and forget," Corbett says he may forgive, but he doesn't forget.
"The way I look at, if you do something to me, I'm going to remember it," Corbett said. "But 10 years down the road, if you need something, I'm gonna help you if I can."
Corbett's life has not always been easy, but his ability to focus on the good has helped him to "go the distance" in overcoming adversity and caring for his family. And he has some advice for those who hold on to the events of their past to try to justify their present bad behavior:
"After a certain age, you are responsible for your actions," he said. "Get over it."
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at email@example.com