Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Gift from God

Yesterday, I was engulfed in a panic attack in my sleep. I woke up feeling terrified of I didn't know what, but it felt real. I asked my husband to rub my back while I prayed that whatever was causing my intense emotion would dispel because of the reality of Christ's grace and strength. And I fell back to sleep. I don't have nightmares, if I have bad dreams, my brain does a lot of amazing gymnastics to resolve the scarey scenarios. Whatever it was, it disappeared and I woke up in the morning feeling apprehensive. It wasn't a good start to what I knew was going to be a long day.

I got to work early and sat for a few minutes in my car praying for grace and strength to do my job. My work has shown me how weak and prideful I can be, that I need to be still and know that God is God, so that I know who I am and who I am not. So, if I do anything right, I know to Whom I should give credit.

At one point, a customer expressed his impatience at having to wait 10 minutes for his drink. I had been on a lunch during what normally is a slower time of the day for customers, but when I got back, the drive through and the front counter were backed up with a lot of drinks at the espresso bar waiting to be made, so I jumped in to make them.

When in a rush, or business surge, I have to make some decisions to prioritize. I get the drinks that go in the drive through out of the way and then I start working on the drinks for customers waiting inside the store. I was moving pretty quickly and I was organized in my approach. Drink orders continued to pour in, but getting filled in a reasonable amount of time.

One cup was written with quick scrawl as a "venti nonfat no-foam no-water yadda-yadda something seven-pump chai". Since I wasn't there when the order was taken and everyone was really busy, I decided to wait to ask for a translation of the chai modifier I couldn't read and moved on to the next drink. In a few seconds, I realized no one had a moment to help me so I had to help myself.

I finally decided that the chai was supposed to be 195 degrees, which is almost boiling and has to be carefully made or the milk would boil over or get too foamy. It's a pain in the ass sort of drink that you have to drop everything to focus on and when I got to the point that I was ready to focus on it, the customer came up to me and asked me why he had to wait so long and then rambled on and on about how incompetent we were and accused me of sitting in the backroom while only two people were serving customers.

When he was hurling his insults at me in a tone of voice that was more lecturing than angry but angry nonetheless, I quietly apologized and told him I was working on his drink at that minute and it would be finished very soon. My supervisor explained that we were understaffed. Then my store manager who was nearby soberly explained that there were some emergencies and someone had to go see a doctor, then the customer apologized for his rude behavior. Yes, thank you, I replied, it's been very tough. I didn't say that before I walked out to help out on the floor, a dear co-worker was in deep pain and anguish. it wasn't necessary, since I saw tears well up in the customer's eyes.

The Bible says that a gentle answer turns away wrath. I think that it works, if you can manage it. The trick is, it can't be done in our own strength. In my own strength, I would have given that selfish, impatient jerk what he deserved. But instead, he was shamed into admitting he was in the wrong, which is a lot more satisfying. I have a feeling that man isn't used to saying stuff even remotely expressing humility. That was a gift from God.

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