learning theology at KFC

Dinner last night was just three of us — Hana, Clark, and me — so I let the kids pick dinner. KFC made the final cut, so in we strolled. As soon as we walked in, we could tell something was wrong. Service at this particular KFC is always a bit slow, but we walked in to a small group of ladies complaining about how long they had been waiting. Up to 30 minutes for one of them. Too long for fried chicken? Certainly, but we placed our order anyway, certain that the huge takeout order being put together just then was the likely culprit.

After we ordered, the problem became apparent. The individual working the drive-thru window was putting orders together and getting them out the door as quickly as they came in. A perfect plan for those folks going through the drive-thru; however, the unintended consequences of his actions were that there was never enough chicken ready to fulfill the dine-in customer orders. As a result, dining room customers were waiting and waiting…and waiting. So like good Americans deep in the Bible belt of Texas, how did the patrons make their displeasure known? By verbally abusing the poor girl who was working the register, of course, and by feeding off one another’s disdain until they were as crazy as a bunch of sharks smelling blood in the water.

Adults ganging up on a teenage girl and feeling pretty tough about themselves. Sad but not unexpected. Not even a little bit. Such is the depraved soul of humanity. Don’t believe that people are sinful? Think they’re really ‘basically good’? Make them wait for fast food. Seriously.

My children (14 and 12) were quick to pick up on the feeding frenzy AND quick to understand that the problem wasn’t one stemming from KFC employees deliberately making people wait — it was a training problem resulting from a workforce whose most senior member had less than one week on the job. So what we saw was a group of adults getting upset at people who honestly didn’t know any better or have any ideas how to solve their dilemma. Even though they knew exactly what was going on, it didn’t help. The insults continued until the food arrived.

This episode gives an incredibly candid glance into our human condition. As silly and trite as this real example is, it says a lot. We like to think we’re ‘good’ people. We like to think we’re thoughtful and kind or (fill in the blank)…until we don’t get exactly what we want or think we deserve. Until we have to wait too long (as defined by us) for ‘fast food.’ Until our order is brought out wrong — which is always done by servers intentionally, of course. Until we get cut off in traffic, which is never accidental but always on purpose. Until something happens that offends our delicate sense of injustice or unfairness, which the world is clearly out to trample.

The truth is, we’re far from good, nice, compassionate, selfless, etc. a lot of the time. We’re not basically good, we’re thoroughly self-centered. We’re sinners in need of forgiveness and healing and wholeness.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Originally published at simplyxian.com.

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