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26 January 2009

Mountains out of Mushroom 'N' Swiss

Go with me on this one. It's a small situation that I'm absolutely certain you've personally encountered before. However, I'm really picking it apart here, and I want to tell you how I dealt with it, and to get your insights and opinions. I'm taking a small situation and expanding it like crazy. A mountain out of a molehill, maybe.

On my way back from last Friday's out-of-town trip, I stopped in at Hardee's around noon to get a Mushroom 'N' Swiss Thickburger. Those things are phenomenal!

A group of guys who'd apparently just gotten through with the first half of a manual labor day went in just ahead of me and ordered their food. I stood and waited as the girl who took their order went about preparing it, taking drive-through orders on her headset, etc. I noticed a manager-type busily cooking in the back, looking very motivated.

I waited for several minutes as the first girl called the three individual meal numbers for the guys in front of me, gave them their food, didn't acknowledge me, and walked back to the kitchen to keep doing other things. She was busy, for sure. I made eye contact somewhere along in here with a girl who was cooking alongside the manager (who never looked at the cash register counter and therefore never made eye contact with me).

A minute later a gentleman walked up to the counter next to me (rather than in line behind me), leaned on the counter, and began making good-natured small talk with another girl who appeared from around the corner. He was apparently a regular. They exchanged pleasantries for a moment or two, and then she took his order.

Of course I was surprised and initially pretty indignant. Rather than reacting the way that I wanted to react, I decided I would wait to see if this new girl (who had no idea who was in line first) would acknowledge me. She never did. Never looked up.

Now, obviously, this is pretty poor service. However, I wanted to make sure I was reacting internally and externally just exactly the way Jesus would react if He'd gone to order a Hardee's Mushroom 'N' Swiss Thickburger and found Himself in this situation. Here are some things that I thought about (there were more, but these stuck out):

  • The crew didn't know me from Adam. Therefore I could assume that there was no reason they would be intentionally ignoring me.
  • I wasn't really in a hurry, but what if I had been? They didn't seem to care.
  • I wasn't terribly hungry, but I had better things to do than stand there.
  • I was upset. Why?
  • How should I react based upon the answer to the "Why am I upset?" question?
The last two questions are where I think we as Christ-followers regularly get ourselves into a non-Christlike mode. We skip over that one.

Why was I so upset? Here are my honest answers:

  • I felt like I had been personally insulted. This means I feel like I was entitled to be treated fairly but wasn't. The place is a business -- I'm giving them my money in trade for their product, and their stated goal is to treat the customer well.
  • I felt like I had been outwardly insulted. This means that the people who'd just gotten their food saw the situation and thought, "They waited on that dude before this guy who's been standing here forever."
  • I felt like the guy who came in after me was a jerk. He saw me standing there waiting for someone to appear, yet horned in and started ordering without consideration.
  • I felt like the people behind the counter were incompetent. This means that I felt like I would have done a better job than they'd done. I mean, any competent person would have, right?
Which one of those most represents how Jesus Christ would have felt? I decided after just a moment that not one of them was Christ-like. So how should I proceed?

I decided to let the gentleman behind me order his food rather than interrupting the cashier and politely saying, "Excuse me. I was here first." Would this have taught the crew a lesson? Possibly. In the next similar situation they might be more careful about how they treat the customer. But would that have been my motivation -- to just help the staff? Not likely. I was annoyed. And since the manager was there, although he'd just messed up, he'd likely take out frustration on the staff, while he was actually a participant in the problem.

I also decided to swallow my ego about the guys who'd ordered ahead of me, although I imagined they were thinking, "What a wimp. That guy just let the other guy cut in line."

Now, if any of you has made it this far, I fully anticipate that you'll tell me that I contributed to the delinquency of a Hardee's by not saying anything, but for me, in my case, God used it to teach me a bit of patience and to teach me about my thought processes and reactions. Is it really true that I do my best to live as Jesus would have lived? Or do I just modify my Christianity to fit my reactions, casting it off when I feel it's necessary or convenient?

I hate to admit that I eventually left without ordering and instead hit a Pizza Inn further on up the road. However, I didn't leave in disgust. I just wanted to go somewhere I'd get my food promptly.

In your responses, I'm primarily interested in knowing why the things that you'd have done actually have a basis in Scripture, in life representing Christ, and in the daily transformation of your mind to be more like that of Christ. For me it was a would-be mundane experience that wound up being very eye-opening.


Anonymous said...

Wow, great comment.

This has happened to me 'too often' (Of course one time is 'too often' if I'm being selfish). I would like to say that I always acted the way you did in this situation, but that would be telling a lie. But, I have a story from the other side of the counter;
Working in Production Control (PC) I had to deal with all of ours customers on a daily basis as they turned in and picked up their equipment; I always strived to be courteous and prompt when dealing with the customers (95% successful); yet on those rare occasions when I wasn't courteous my customers would rant and rave like a child - which further fueled my ire... So, I think you can see where I'm going with this; because you acted responsibly on this occasion, then maybe the next time you visit Hardey's they will take your order for a Mushroom 'N' Swiss promptly.

If you would of acted like a child you would have been treated like a child - and if you would of "Politely" informed them of their oversight, you may have been viewed as a complainer. (God forbid) Anyways, good job, and I hope the pizza was good!


Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment but I felt led to today. I am not always a very patient person and incidents like what you wrote about used to really make me crazy. The Lord has really given me patience. Mainly in the form of two impressionable kids. Nothing wakes one up faster to the inappropriateness of one's behavior than to see it mirrored in your child's behavior. Everyday I pray "to walk in a manner worth of the calling with which you have been called, will all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the iunity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:1-3 I guess I would have waited for my Mushroom N'Swiss (eventhough I don't eat burgers)and I'd probably still be standing there. I think you acted responsibly and in a manner worthy.


Saidin said...

In my case, it would really have depended on my mood. If I got enough sleep I would've shrugged when the other person ordered before me and then asked if I could order too. Otherwise I might have told them (both) I was there earlier.

The reason I'm commenting though, is that I wonder if it's part of Christianity to make all your decisions according to what Jesus would've done.

I mean no disrespect, but I think that you should still make your own decisions, and not try to make the same ones as somebody else, even if that other person is Jesus.

Again no disrespect, I'm just curious.

Dean Lusk said...

Thanks for the thoughts so far! The view from the other side of the counter, as Keo noted, is always one to consider, though it's honestly difficult to grasp most of the time -- being self-concerned is pretty easy for us.

Saidin, of course no disrespect is taken at all. Good question.

If I believe that Jesus is God, as He said, and is currently alive (I'm imagining that this may sound slightly nuts to you if you don't believe this), there's no one I'd rather pattern my life after. However, if I just believe He was a good guy, but quite dead (like Elvis), then I'd probably take my pick of good, moral people to use for general lifestyle patterns (Ghandi, Mother Theresa, etc., etc.), or I might prefer to make it up as I go along.

I think that the very best way to sum up the answer to the question are these sentences from the Bible -- remembering that Christians understand the Bible to be the actual Word of God:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names...

(Phillippians 2:5-9)

That's why I want to make decisions that Jesus would make. And I want to please God -- my Father. (The same way that a child wants to please his dad.)

Timothy said...

Like many, I have had this happen too and how I acted often depends on how much time is left in my lunch hour. I would like to say I would have been nice and in time my order would have been taken...however I often just leave.. That's not to say I would not be back but just I don't have the time. I have also noticed that sometimes it is just one or two people that work there that just don't seem to notice the person in line. There is a BK I go to that I cruse the parking lot before I go I drive around the place I peek in and see if he is behind the counter taking orders...if he is I keep on driving.. LOL Getting mad or upset NEVER works. Trust me the sun will still rise the next day. Everyone has their bad days and perhaps it was just a bad day at Hardey's. I work in customer service also and I have often thought that there should be a special place in heaven for people that have to deal with the public day after day. Well that's my 2 cents. Off to IHOP...
Anyone else want anything? :-)

Christy said...

It's these every day, non-important things that, to me, make it hard to live perfectly this side of heaven. Like Saidin, it would depend on my mood (I hate to admit, but it's true). However, for the most part I have become more patient in these types of situations, so it takes more to upset me now. About a year ago my family and I had just been to a funeral. It hadn't been terribly long since my mother's/grandmother's funeral, so going to this one was difficult for us. After the funeral we went to BK. While waiting on our order my husband mentioned to the girl at the counter that we would like our cups so we could go ahead and get our drinks. Well, she picked up the cups and then SLAMMED then down onto the counter and walked away with a huff. This upset us and my husband in turn reacted in anger, which prompted the manager to come forth. We explained to the manager the girl's behavior and the manager apologized. Well, we started to feel badly about our behavior, especially since we were all dressed up and the day was Sunday (we felt that they assumed we were Christians and had just been to church that day). OUCH! I went up to the manager a little later (after having tried to get the girl's attention) and told the manager our situation - about having just been to a funeral and being upset. I apologized to the manager and asked her to please pass it on the girl, since she would not acknowledge me. I thought MAYBE if the girl knew she might be willing to forgive. And of course, who knows what SHE was going through that day? That's mainly what I try to ask myself when I feel someone is being rude to me - "what are they going through". I've also been on the 'other side of the counter', and since I'm the kind of person that gives 100%, it bothers me when others don't, but again I have to remind myself that they might be going through a hard time.

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