The bright red finish and the cardboard license plates were clear indicators that the car in the fast-food restaurant parking lot was brand new. The owner likely panicked when he saw me park beside his new toy. Quickly he ran out and moved the car and parked it again at an odd angle that blocked two parking places.
The plot thickens at this point because the manager of the restaurant walked up to the man and quietly asked him to park his car correctly. The man arrogantly replied that it was a brand-new car and he did not want some jerk hitting it. Then he began to complain in a loud voice about the lousy food at this restaurant. The manager smiled throughout the tirade and offered to refund the man’s money. The car owner quickly accepted and left in a huff.
I wouldn’t have paid much attention except that the rude guy was accompanied by three teenagers who were watching everything from another table, giggling. Then, when told to leave the kids began cramming what was left of the food in their mouths on the way out. Meanwhile they were laughing about the way their father tough-talked this poor restaurant manager and received a free meal.
After the altercation, I felt compelled to check on the manager and ask if he was okay. He nodded and said: “I don’t get upset when people are rude. It’s part of my job to deal with all kinds of customers. As a grandfather, however, I cringe to think what kind of lesson the children received from their father’s intimidation tactics. Those kids will likely learn to behave just like their father.”
“Teach your children to choose the right path and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”(Proverbs 22:6) We as adults have great influence on the future choices our children will make. The question is, will our influence lead children on the right or the wrong path?
I would like to say to the father in the restaurant: “what kind of example did you teach your children? Would you want them to act just like you in this situation?”
• If you want to get anywhere do it by rudeness and intimidation?
• You own a new car so everyone should treat you special?”
• Managers of fast food chains are not real people so treat them accordingly.
One reaction would be to laugh at the rude guy and chalk it up to entertainment at someone else’s expense. But God offers another way to treat people.
• “Love is patient and kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
• “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” — Jesus, John 13:34-35
• “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
• “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Here are some key words that stood out: Patience, kindness, love others as I have loved you, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving one another just as God through Christ forgave you. None of those words showed up in the language of the man with the new car but they were displayed quietly by the manager of that restaurant.
Years after this happened, I still vividly recall those three kids sitting at a table watching. I pray someday they remember the example of the manager rather than their father but that is unlikely. Teach your children to choose the right path and when they are older, they will remain upon it. – Proverbs 22:6
We all have choices in our interactions with people. We may choose rudeness and intimidation, or we choose patience and kindness. One might get you noticed, along with a few laughs and an occasional free hamburger while the other choice may not be as attention grabbing but others will notice, namely our children. You can bet they will learn from your example and when they are older, they will act on it.
The manager said: “I cringe to think what kind of lesson the children received from their father’s intimidation tactics. Those kids will likely learn to behave just like their father.”
So, choose wisely, the path you take, and may God walk that path with you.