Born in Nebraska, this Army Veteran is the Gainesville Target’s Most Beloved Cashier
Photos and Story by Tricia Driscoll
Any day now, 87-year-old Dallas Ostergaard of Gainesville is going to go viral.
Since having his photo shared on several popular online forums, Dallas has been the subject of much talk and even more admiration over the last month. As it turns out, he’s well-known in Prince William County as the cheery Target cashier who makes fascinating banter with customers.
Need proof? Read on.
Here’s a snippet of conversation I caught between Dallas and a customer named Dedra. (I swear I wasn’t eavesdropping; I was simply standing behind her in line and couldn’t help but overhear!)
Dedra, reading Dallas’ name tag: My name starts with D, too.
Dallas, smiling: My parents gave nine of us names that start with D.
Dedra, incredulous: Nine of you?
Dallas, nodding: Yes, but just us nine. My other five siblings have names that don’t start with D.
Dedra, her eyes wide, turning to look at me and then back at Dallas: You’re one of 14 children?
Once this story was shared on social media new stories emerged from people who had: sold Dallas a car, worked with him, gone through his cashier line, and grown up with him!
Born in Nebraska in 1932, Dallas is the third of the aforementioned 14 children: nine boys and five girls. When he was 18, he saw an article in Time magazine about the value of Gregg Shorthand, so he learned the skill.
He then went to Washington as a stenographer where he was drafted into the Army and sent to Korea. There, Dallas was assigned to assist a 3-star general near the DMZ. Not long after, he joined the Department of State and his long foreign service career began.
As a regional director, Dallas’ duties took him to Beirut, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, and Jordan. He recounts brilliant stories of peace, and uprising, and his love of the different cultures and cuisines. When you sit with him, you’ll learn what it was like to dine with a Bedouin Tribe, narrowly miss the tumultuous overthrow of a King, and be present in the Middle East during the Six- Day War.
Ultimately, Dallas transferred to Latin America and met his wife in Colombia. He went on to serve in Bolivia, retired, and did contract work in Costa Rica for 12 years. All told, Dallas has spent nearly 68 years in the workforce. 23 of those have been with Target.
He credits his love of people and humor as the reason for his positive attitude.
“I once saw a customer who lost her husband to cancer and it brought tears to my eyes. I hugged her. I had a lady in my line who was short on money, and the lady next in line paid for her, and let her keep the change. I saw a customer on her way out who really wanted a book, and a lady told me, ‘Dallas, ring that book up!’ and she ran after the stranger to give her the book.”
Dallas continued, “We see so much on television of violence and hatred and terrible disunity, but then you see something like that….it restores my faith in humanity.”
Now, Dallas has four children and 14 grandchildren who adore their beloved “Pampa.”
Dallas is full of surprises, and he makes our community a better place. The next time you visit the Target store in Gainesville, look for him!