MONROE, Ga. — Two boys from Monroe said some of their best life lessons come from a gas station. Now they intend to apply an important piece of advice they've received from the man who has tirelessly shared his wisdom.
It started two years ago when their mom stopped in before school, and Gage and Talmadge met Mr. William Scott, the gas station custodian who offered an early morning pep talk.
That one pep talk started a tradition. The boys have returned for more of his advice and wisdom every day since.
The top of their heads barely reach the shelves at Smiley's gas station, but for 8-year-old Gage and 10-year-old Talmadge, Mr. William's advice stands tall.
"We can't win every game - so just get out there and be the best you can," Mr. William said, offering an example of his golden advice.
He has shared other nuggets of wisdom, like taking pride in hard work or behaving when things don't go your way.
"The ups take care of themselves, it's how you treat your downs that matters," he said.
It's an education in kindness - done with a smile.
"He is the nicest man ever. He really puts a kick on my day and makes me happy," said 8-year-old Gage.
"I like coming in here to see Mr. William because it makes me really happy before I go to school," said 10-year-old Talmadge.
Lindsey Masiello said her sons insist on stopping for one of Mr. William's lessons every morning.
"He is such a blessing in our lives and he has taught my kids so much about life at such a young age without him even realizing what he does for them," she said.
Through those talks, her boys also learned about his struggles. But Mr. William never asked for help - inspiring the boys to take action.
"He comes to work every day, with no windows in his car, every day, rain or shine, he's here. You'll drive by sometimes and he'll have a tarp or blanket on his car, but he is always here, with a smile on his face," Masiello said.
Mr. William never taught the boys how to keep a secret, but now they have a special assignment: a holiday surprise.
Together, they have quietly raised money to fix his car before Christmas.
He doesn't know it yet, but Mr. William already taught them why they want to help.
"You're wanted. By being wanted, you're not just stuck in a shell by yourself. The way you treat people is the way you want people to treat you," Mr. William said, emphasizing a lesson he's taught the boys a few times.
Now the boys are showing Mr. William that treating others with kindness is the best education around.
"I've lived my life - and it's time for them to live theirs. They're my boys," he said.
The boys hope to surprise him with new windows for his car and new tires, too just before Christmas.