I’m revisiting my old friend, Gary, this week. Gary was sixty-eight years old when he enrolled in hospice services with end stage congestive heart failure. You may remember Gary’s previous column titled, “Your Sins Will Find You Out.” When Gary and his friend, Jerry, were six years old, they decided to play cowboy and round up all the cats in the neighborhood. Gary recounted, “We caught every cat we could find. We had about three burlap sacks full. We took the cats to my friend’s garage and we painted all the cats green with a paint brush and we turned them loose on New Boston. We sure had a lot of people mad at us. The police tracked green paw prints back to the garage and came to both of our houses. I guess they decided they needed to teach us a lesson. My mom, she sure taught me a lesson.”
Gary enjoys going out for coffee when he feels up to it, so we made a couple trips to “Bob Evans” and “The Huddle House”. Gary amazes me; how he instantly connects with the waitresses. A young waitress came to take our order and Gary asked, “How are you doing today?” She replied, “Fine”, and then asked if we’d like some coffee. Gary replied, “Sure, but take your time honey, we’re in no hurry.” When she returned Gary kindly thanked her and commented, “You seem like a really good waitress”; she smiled and coyly replied, “It’s easy when you only have one table.”
I have to confess that at first I thought, “This guy is really smooth. What a charmer!” But Gary’s taught me that there’s nothing wrong with being charming if it stems from a sincere interest, respect and appreciation.
When I told Gary how impressed I was by his respect for the waitresses he reflected, “I think I got that from my mom. Back in the thirties and forties some people looked down on people who served. Mom always told us that there’s not much distance between us and them; we could be there sometimes. People take waitresses for granted, but they wouldn’t if they had to get up and get things themselves. I feel for the working people and they are the real working people. Many of them are probably working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They need a boost. They don’t need anybody tearing them down. What they do may not even be completely to your liking sometimes, but they may be doing the best they can. You have to overlook people sometimes, they’re only human. Some days I can’t even stand myself. Do you know what I mean?”
A couple of weeks ago I was standing in line at a convenient mart waiting to pay for gas. A young lady ahead of me held a large purse and was counting out change. She turned and apologized for taking so long and explained, “I’m a server, and at the end of the month I have to use my tip money to pay for gas.” I assured her, “That’s okay. Take your time. You don’t need to apologize”.
Gary has changed my thinking forever. I don’t think I’ll look at a waiter or waitress the same again. You know, Jesus also tried to change the thinking of his disciples. Can you believe that He had to pull them off to the side when they started arguing about which of them should be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24-27)? And when the mother of two of the disciples asked Jesus to let one son sit at his right hand, and her other son at His left hand in His kingdom, Jesus replied, “…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for Many” (Matthew 20:20-28).
I’m coming to believe that the reason that we feel so distant from Jesus Christ sometimes is because we refuse to join Him where He is. He is about the Father’s business, serving others. And if Jesus came to be a “server”, then perhaps we would be wise to be the same.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant…” (Philippians 2: 5-11
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.