I can make a lot of excuses for what happened on Friday evening.
I got up at 4:30 am, so I was cranky
I had been traveling most of the day
I hadn’t had a real meal in 8 hours
I had not seen my family for 3 weeks
It was a combination of those things and more that led to McDonalds for dinner, and ultimately, a life lesson.
I just wanted a grilled chicken salad, and as I picked it up and sat down, just one look at it set me off. “This isn’t grilled chicken, this is crispy!” I said to myself, as i huffed and puffed back to the front counter with my incorrect order.
I could have accepted the crispy chicken and been done with it. I could have seen the huge line of people who were waiting for their food and the stressed look on the manager’s face and realized that chicken with a little breading wasn’t a huge deal.
But, not Friday night. Friday night, I was on a mission. I had a righteous anger, and somebody needed to hear me and make it right. I find the manager, and sternly say “I ordered a grilled chicken salad, and this is crispy.” She sends it to the back, has a conversation with the person who made it. Then the manager turns back to me and says “It is grilled”
I could have easily accepted the salad at that point and just eaten the crispy chicken, or take it off. But I was not willing to let this one go. This one was for every time they gave my son a girl toy in his happy meal, even when I told them it was for a boy. This one was for the time that they forgot my McDouble, so the rest of the family ate but I didn’t.
So I looked at the manager and narrow my eyes. I can feel my heart beating faster and my fists clenching. “So, you’re telling me that the chicken on my salad is grilled?” I question her like she is a suspect on some episode of Law and Order.
“Yes, it is.”
At this point, there is another salad with crispy chicken next to mine, so I point this out.
“So, these two are not the same?”
“No, sir, yours is grilled chicken. I checked it myself.”
The manager had been very calm this whole time even as I had been beside myself trying to get some sort of sweet redemption. But now I was ready to end this. “So what do you call this?” I said as I flung open the lid of my salad, ready to make my final case in front of the employees and unsupecting jury of other customers just waiting for their cheeseburgers.
And then there was that moment of sheer horror. When you realize that you’ve made a huge mistake, and there’s no way to go back. The chicken that had been partially obscured by the semi-transparent lid had, in fact, been grilled this whole time. I was wrong, and if I had stopped to take a moment when I first sat down with my food to examine it fully, I would have noticed it immediately.
I was humbled. I asked for forgiveness. I said sorry more times in 10 seconds than I ever have before. The manager gave me a half smile, but had to move on to other pressing issues, as I turned around and took the walk of shame with my salad that was right the whole time. Eating the salad gave me time to think about my mistake some more and what I learned.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19)
If we could just follow that one verse in our lives, we could prevent wars at the fast food drive through and world wars between countries. A little patience goes a long way.