She only had an hour for lunch; and having already run several errands, she now needed to grab a quick meal in order to get back to her place of employment on time. Accordingly, she honked her horn, then yelled, then gesticulated at the man in an effort to speed him along.
When the man did not respond fast enough to her liking, she simply increased the volume and speed of the vitriol she poured forth on the poor man. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the man made up his mind, ordered and moved forward to the first window to pay. Once there, he told the cashier that he would not only like to pay for his meal, but also for that of the customer behind him.
He then proceeded to the second window to retrieve his meal. As he did, the lady behind him, who had now ordered her meal, came up to the first window to pay. Here, she discovered the kindly gesture bestowed upon her by the man ahead of her.
Overcome with regret for her previous behavior, she immediately began to try to get his attention. Once again, she called out and gesticulated, only in a kinder, gentler tone, as she attempted to convey both her apologies and here gratitude.
The man simply waved a friendly hand in return before turning his attention to the server at the window. It was here then that he showed the attendant two receipts, informing her that he actually had placed two orders. Upon seeing the two receipts, the employee dutifully handed both orders to him. With one final wave of his hand, he drove off.
Thereafter, the lady behind him found herself in the unenviable position of having either to go through the drive-through line a second time or else to skip lunch altogether!
My immediate source for this story is a sermon I heard delivered at church recently. The pastor, a friend of mine, told it as a humorous illustration. But a search of the internet shows that it very likely actually happened. (See below.) Either way, the story is full of admonition for how we choose to treat others.
I could not help but reflect on this story over the weekend. As our nation celebrated Veteran’s Day, I thought about just how much others have been willing to sacrifice on my behalf. After all, where would I be if so many men and women, a great many of which are of a generation older than me, had not literally paid the price for my benefit.
And yet, how have I repaid them? Have I treated them with the respect and dignity they deserve? Or have I barreled my way through life, if not outright ignoring them and their sacrifice, then doing little more than treating them rudely as I callously pursued my own self-centered agenda?!
Sadly, in the world in which we live, far too many veterans get the latter treatment. And yet, I know of very few veterans who would respond to being disrespected in the manner in which the man in the story above did. Most of them would simply suffer the indignity of the moment. But they would certainly be within their rights if they did respond in such a fashion! After all, they are the ones who paid the price for the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness we each now enjoy.
These days, might wife and I make it a point NEVER to let an opportunity to express gratitude to a veteran pass us by. Whenever either of us sees an individual either in uniform or in a cap or in any other garment signifying their present or past service in any branch of the Armed Forces, we make it a point to stop and say “Thank you for serving our country!”
It’s a small gesture. And it only takes a few seconds out of our lives and theirs. But you would be surprised at how appreciative the ones who hear this tend to be. Not one single time (and there have been hundreds), has the veteran not shown genuine appreciation for our words.
As he wrote his New Testament Letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul was facing his own death. He recognized that he may well be facing imminent martyrdom for the faith. In chapter 2, verses 17-18, he wrote: “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
This is a powerful verse of scripture. On the one hand, we see the willingness of one who is ready to lay down his life for the Kingdom of God and fellow believers. On the other hand, we see the admonition of such a one to others to affirm him in what he is willing to do.
Likewise, this Veteran’s Day weekend, I have been reminded of all those who have been willing to lay down their life for my country (and by implication, for me). I have also been reminded of my own obligation to affirm and support them in their willingness to do so.
May I ever see what they did for me! And may the same be true for you.
PROBABLE STORY SOURCE: