TGIF – the last work day of the week, I thought as I put on the finishing touches to head out for a 9am mandatory managers meeting. My daily weekday morning ritual for the last 3 years included a stop at McDonald’s for my favorite sausage and cheese McMuffin, with a hold on the egg. Since my car refused to cooperate, my brother offered to take me to work; which meant my son and nephew would have to come along for the ride. Prior to leaving home, I briefed my brother on my morning routine to which he willingly agreed to accommodate his sister (bless his heart). As we drove up to McDonald’s drive thru window, the mass confusion began as the two little ones agonized over what they were going to get.
After ten minutes of indecision, and my patience running thin, an order was finally placed for three sandwiches and a small oatmeal; we paid and pulled up another fifteen feet to pick up breakfast to go. My brother grabbed the bag, turned up the volume on the radio and began to pull off. I looked up from my phone and glanced in the bag to find one of three sandwiches missing.
I quickly informed my brother, hoped out of the truck with receipt in hand, walked through the door and was greeted by the manager. Can I help you, she asked hurriedly. I showed her my receipt and began to convey to her that I was missing a sausage biscuit. The manager grabbed my bag, walked behind the counter and returned with a sausage biscuit. Sarcastically thanking her, I took the bag and said, is that all, I am also missing a small sized oatmeal.
Shooting me a quizzical look, the manager directed her attention towards the drive thru and began conversing with the drive thru clerk in Spanish. Through all of our prior interactions, she spoke English. Irritated, I began to wonder why a missing small sized oatmeal was so top secret, it now required her to converse in Spanish. I was confused as she carried on what seemed like a thirty minute conversation, with accusatory glances in between words that I didn’t understand. However, my gut instinct began to translate for me,” She’s making disparaging comments about you; this poor crazy lady is trying to steal a container of oatmeal” my gut instinct whispered.
Rudely interrupting the banter in my mind, the manager abruptly turned to me and said, “You have the oatmeal.”Under normal circumstances, I’m able to recognize in enough time to talk myself out of the rage that begins as a prickle and slowly and methodically weaves its way through my body before it reaches the point of no return, but somehow this was different. I was totally oblivious to the ensuing eruption about to explode.
OMG, I said aloud! Didn’t she know I was late for work as my morning gossip phone conversation with my daughter ran a little longer than expected? There was more news to cover than usual. Didn’t she know she needed to hurry because I’d wasted time perusing FaceBook and Twitter this morning instead of getting ready for work? I looked at her and sternly said, “Give me my oatmeal or give me my money back!” Exasperated, the manager repeated that I had the oatmeal and pointed towards the window and said he’s eating the oatmeal. I threw my bag down on the counter and yelled at her to give me my money back.
She conversed with herself in Spanish and began making the oatmeal. A couple of seconds later, she placed a small container of oatmeal on the counter and hesitantly asked if I wanted the oatmeal or my money. I snatched the oatmeal and decided to share with her what I really wanted. I told her how I wanted to be treated with respect. I told her I wanted her to attend as many customer service training classes as time would allow. I told her how I didn’t appreciate her inaccurate prejudgment of me. I told her, despite her opinion; I didn’t lie in my bed on this particular morning and plan this elaborate scheme to dupe McDonalds out of oatmeal. I told her how many hours a week I worked and how I could afford fifty more orders of oatmeal, twenty more sandwiches plus a McFlurry; okay maybe not fifty or the McFlurry but she didn’t know. Confident I‘d imparted enough wisdom; I threw my head back and moseyed out the door.
As I made my way to the truck, I was stopped in my tracks by a horrific vision before my eyes. I blinked repeatedly, wiped my eyes a couple of times and scurried to the truck as fast as I could. I jumped in sideways as I’d diverted my attention back to the drive thru window making sure the coast was clear. Shutting the truck door, I turned around slowly to have my worst nightmare confirmed. I turned to see my brother finishing a small container of oatmeal to which I began screaming; why didn’t you tell me you had your oatmeal! How could you do this to me? Needless to say, my brother and the kids were staring at me afraid that I’d really lost it this time and rather than driving me to work they would have to drive and drop me off at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric hospital instead.
Panicked, I slouched down in the front seat and screamed at my brother to pull off. As requested, he sped off totally unaware of what was going on but more than willing to do whatever was needed to protect his sister (The True Ride or Die – I LOVE My Brother)! As he peeled out of the parking lot; tires screeching, the kids yelled excitedly, “Do that again!” Mortified, I frantically tried to remember if there were any Jesus bumper stickers or a Jesus fish on the truck. I checked my wrists to make sure I wasn’t wearing a What Would Jesus Do bracelet, although I’d never owned one. Anxiously, I checked any and everything visible that would blow my Christian cover– none! THANK YOU LORD, I thought and breathed a huge but short lived sigh of relief.
With McDonald’s a mere dot in the trucks rear view mirror, I allowed myself to relax, when I heard “What about me? Have you considered that I saw you?” Instantly, I was saddened that God had witnessed my behavior; my mistreatment of his other children and I hadn’t given it a second thought. I felt horrible. No matter how hard I tried, the regular excuses I’d often used to justify my deplorable behavior; I hadn’t had my coffee yet, I was tired, PMS, the devil made me do it, didn’t seem to carry the same weight anymore. It was all me. In that moment, I made the decision to act inappropriately and I needed to take full responsibility. I laid my head back on the seats head rest, closed my eyes and asked
- Lord forgive me
- Lord show me everything in me that’s not like you
- Lord after you show me those ugly things, help me see it
- Lord after I see it, give me the desire to change it
Since I’d stopped at this McDonald’s every morning for the last three years, I’d become familiar with the employees faces and schedules. A week later, I walked in the door; headed for the manager and told her that I was indeed the crazy lady that came in and acted like a jerk over a small sized oatmeal. I told her, I was completely out of line, apologized and asked her to forgive me. She smiled at me and said “Of course”. I thanked her, apologized once more, walked over to the drive thru and repeated my apology and request for forgiveness. As I moseyed out the door this time, I threw my head back, looked up and whispered “Thank You Lord for all of the lessons!
Moral of the story – We may not get to choose the situation, but we do get to choose how we respond.