With my pay remaining basically the same for the past ten years and inflation rising, along with a daughter’s wedding in the near future it was time to find a part-time job. Since I also serve as a minister for a small congregation, I didn’t want something big, just some employment that would offer me 12 to 15 hours a week. That place is the Chick-fil-A in Georgetown, Kentucky.
The owner hired me as a dining room host. His request was quite simple, “I want you to love up on the people that come into my store. Every person has a story when they walk through the doors. Someone may have just been told he was going to lose his job, another might be considering filing for divorce, he or she may just want to enjoy a quiet meal to get away from it all, if only for a little while.” Those were not his exact words, but the message was clear, “Love up on the people, every person has a story.”
He then began to share what “loving up on the people” would mean. Along with interacting with the customer, I would freshen up their drinks, clear their trays; I may even have to clean up after a child who gets sick or dispose of a poopy diaper from time to time. In all of the job interviews I have ever had, the word, “poopy” never came up………..until now.
I decided that, if I was to love up on the people, to be attentive to their needs, to be on the lookout for someone either celebrating a birthday or enduring a crisis, to be prepared. So before each shift, I read and pray Matthew 9:35-38, emphasis on, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Afterwards, Brent (the owner) said to me, “Ernie, I want you to know, if you discover this job isn’t for you then I’ll understand. We’ll still be friends. My feelings won’t be hurt.” I appreciated that, but all the time was thinking, “This has to be me. How will I ever learn to love God more intimately (whom I can’t see) if I don’t learn to how serve, love up, even clean up after people I can see (1 John 4:20).
My greatest challenge for the moment, though, is not the work itself but the message, the phrasing that all Chick-fil-A employees are to share after each exchange with a customer, saying, “My pleasure.” I keep messing it up and have been responding to the customer’s thank you with, “My privilege” rather than “My pleasure” but I’ll eventually get it.
Anyway, if you ever care to see me dressed all in black with an apron filled with after-dinner mints, a sanitizing cloth and a few other odds and ends to perform my responsibilities, just drop by the Georgetown, Kentucky Chick-fil-A store some time and you may see me there. If you are really good and don’t make too much of a mess I may even give you a balloon, along with freshening up your beverage, clearing your tray and extending, of course, a warm “My pleasure” as well.