I’ll share this story with a bit of sheepishness, because I think I almost missed out on a blessing.
It takes a lot for me to get aggravated at any restaurant worker, because my sons and their friends work in restaurants and I know they are sometimes mistreated. But …
I went to a McDonald’s one evening this week to work and use the wifi while Mike was helping at a nearby vacation Bible school. I parked my laptop at a table and went to order an unsweetened iced tea at the counter.
“Are you sure you want unsweet?” The young man asked at the counter. I said yes, I was sure, and asked for lemon and Splenda. I paid for my tea.
The young man handed me a kiddie-size cup with one lemon. I was surprised by the cup size and the measly lemon, but I let it go and asked, “Could I have Splenda or Sweet ‘n’ Low?”
Did this young man raise his voice at me or did I just imagine it? “I could have rang you up for sweet tea if that’s what you wanted!” he said.
“It’s not the same thing!” I said back, and for whatever reason, tried to explain the difference.
Another employee behind the counter grabbed a handful of sugar substitute packets and pushed them toward me, which shut me up. I filled up my kiddie cup, sat down, and glowered at this young man.
I wanted to complain about him or do something to get him in trouble. But then I started to think about how young he was and how I didn’t really know what was going on in his life. So I let it go.
Darned if he didn’t wander by my table a few minutes later. “Are you a writer?” he asked. Which caught me off guard, because people sit in fast-food restaurants with laptops all the time, but I don’t assume they are writers.
“Yes, I am,” I said. But I was still mad at him. I didn’t want to talk. “Oh really? Tell me about some of the things you have written lately,” he said.
And he sat down.
It took me a few seconds to realize this was something God might be involved in. I didn’t want to chat. I wanted to be mad and work on my computer. Yet this young man sat there for a few minutes, and then he came back later on his meal break, and we talked.
We talked about my work. He sang along to an Elton John song playing on the sound system, which led him to tell me why he knows a lot of Elton John songs, and it led me to tell him why I do, too.
He told me about things he did and didn’t like in high school. I laughed and told him he reminded me of my sons. He said funny things like, “Let me drop a knowledge bomb on you, Annette,” when I didn’t understand something.
He told me little bits of information about his family and life, which made me realize he lives near the church where we have our monthly Dinner Party ministry. It made me realize that a church connection might be a good thing for him. So of course, I invited him and his family to our next dinner. We talked a little about the church after that.
When I left to go pick up Mike, the young man said, “It was nice talking to you, Annette. I work here on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
I’m not sure I’ll ever see that young man again. But I’m glad I didn’t react too quickly to complain about him. I’m glad he came over to talk to me. I’m glad God showed up in the moment.
I would be so happy to see that young man some day at the dinner party.
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