Another Angel Unaware

I broke my own cardinal rule this week; Never expect anything from anyone. If I do, I set myself up for complete, absolute, abject, disappointment. It really doesn’t matter why I had a bad week, the fact remains that I did. It happens to all of us. I’m just usually able to not let it get to me so much. Anyway I did…

After a long week in Texas, I headed back to the Coast this morning. I had stayed with my best friend from Ocean Springs all week and anther good friend from high school had also been in Houston. She was there to find out whether or not she was still in remission from breast cancer. She was. I usually don’t have to look very far to find redemption in what I might have lost in a week. She and her friend were driving across I-10 about an hour ahead of me and called to say I needed to make a detour. She told me to take the Crowley, Louisiana exit.

It was lunchtime and the place was hopping. As I opened the door the only thing I saw was a man in his late fifties standing with a broom in his hand, sweeping. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Hi,” in a very cheery and genuine sort of way. I said hello and asked how he was doing? He said, “I’m great!” It crossed my mind that he seemed way too happy to be standing at the door with a broom during lunch on Saturday, but then, I was lost in my haste to get back on the road.

I decided to order a hamburger and did. After I paid and got my drink, I stood back a bit and took out my phone, which is becoming a very nasty habit. Before I engaged with my hand-held piece of technology, I happened to glance up and there he was sweeping again. And smiling.

Stopping for a second, I asked, “What’s your name?” about the time I noticed his nametag, which simply said, “Mr. Joe.” I said, “Oh it’s so nice to meet you Mr. Joe. My name is Sarah.” We shook hands. I then asked him how long he’d been working at Burger King, to which he replied with pride, “Twenty-one years.”

Marveling, inside and out, I said, “Oh? Wow. That’s a long time! Do you like your job?” He said, “I love my job!” He had a thick Cajun accent and I had some difficulty understanding what he said next. I then asked, “Why do you like your job so much Mr. Joe?”

After patiently repeating himself a couple of times for me, I understood him to say this: “Oh I get to see people come in here with their families, sit down, and enjoy themselves!”

By now, I had teared up and my world had stopped. I saw and heard nothing else.

I then said, “Mr. Joe, are you telling me that you enjoy your job because you like to watch other people be happy?” He simply said, “Oh yes,” with the biggest grin on his face.

Ok. Now I’m crying in the middle of the Burger King in Crowley, Louisiana, in the middle of the day. Mr. Joe reached over and gave me an awkward hug. He then said, “Don’t worry. God is going to take care of you.”

If he didn’t have my attention before then, he had it now.

Looking up and drying my eyes, I told him that he was an angel; that I needed to slow down and pay attention; that I needed to see what was really important and not be in such a hurry, and that he had reminded me as to the importance of those things.

He then smiled and said, “Thank you.” I said, “No sir, thank you!”

You see, I allowed my expectations on people who I did not know to ruin my week. I expected them to deliver on their word, and when they did not, I allowed their actions to manipulate my feelings. Mr. Joe reminded me, with his child-like manner, that I was missing the point. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was truly important. He had expected nothing of me. It seemed he never did. He simply enjoys watching others be happy.

How convicted I was in that single moment that I am not the center of the universe regardless of how bad things might seem to be. I was convicted, that for all I claim to live in the moment, I was a hypocrite in that flicker of time.

Mr. Joe reminded me how much I, too, enjoy seeing others be happy.