Three years ago, we spent Christmas in Alabama spending time with family. We don’t get to do that very often, so we were very excited to be back in our “hometown” – although, it’s hard to not view North Carolina as “home” after being here for over 10 years now.
On that Christmas Eve, while running an errand to a nearby convenience store, I overheard a conversation that was an encouragement and challenge for me. I wrote about that event in a post called “A Random Convenience Store.” I hope you enjoy this story, and I hope it challenges you to serve other… just as it challenged me.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve, we spent the day with my family. We had lunch with my Mom and Dad, and with my brother and his family. We needed some ice, so Margaret and I went down the road to a local convenience store to buy a bag. This was a normal convenience store combined with a chain gas station. (I honestly don’t remember which gas station.)
There were two employees in the store, both of them men. The oldest of the two men was wearing a “Santa” hat, and was helping an elderly lady pick out a bottle of wine at a wine display. When the lady had picked out her bottle of wine – the bottle that was recommended by the employee – they walked up to the counter together. She asked how much the wine cost, and also handed the man two bottles of coke (in glass bottles!).
The man, “We talked about this already. This is our Christmas gift to you. There’s no charge for the wine or for the cokes.”
The lady protested slightly, as you must do in the South, and then began proclaiming, “I love y’all! I just love y’all so much!”
Meanwhile, I was standing in line at the cash register where the other employee was working. The lady in front of me wanted to by a car wash. She said that she had not bought gas because she had a full tank, but she was traveling through town and wanted to get a car wash. The man rang up the lower price for her (as if she had bought gas), and then he reached beneath the counter to get her car wash code.
“Oh, no!” he said, “It says the car wash needs maintenance.”
The other employee said, “I guess I need to fill up the soap.”
The employee at the cash register asked the lady if she could come back in a few minutes. She said she needed to buy a few things, so she would go to a local store and come back for the car wash. He handed her the car wash code and said, “I’m not going to charge you for this. That way, if he doesn’t get the soap filled before you come back, then you’re not out anything, and if he does get it filled, then you can just consider it a Christmas gift.”
I bought the bag of ice, thinking about the great example these two employees demonstrated. I don’t know if these two men are Christians are not, but they showed that they cared more about people than about their business. They were more concerned with being good neighbors than making a buck. We need to see – and be – more examples like this.
As I walked out of the store, the elderly lady was still saying, “I just love y’all so much!”