My friends and I were in the middle of an enjoyable lunch. Conversing, eating, laughing, eating, doing life together, eating, creating memories, and eating. Goodness, these friends bring such joy into my life!
I can’t remembering what bite I was taking or exactly what we were discussing, but sounds of a ruckus were heard in the booth beside us. All conversation and eating halted as we all simultaneously turned our attention and our heads toward the raised voice.
“This is a teaspoon, not a soup spoon!”
As she wielded the teaspoon in the air, we all could see, yes, it was definitely a teaspoon. This restaurant patron, observably upset, made her displeasure known to the server and to everyone nearby. She expected a soup spoon and got a teaspoon. As she slammed the teaspoon down on the table and raised it back up again numerous time, I was afraid our server would soon be hit by the tableware weapon.
The tiny-framed, blonde, brown-eyed server wisely stepped back from the table and kindly apologized. I couldn’t hear every word she offered, but it was clear her words were not making the situation better. The upset woman continued her frenzy about the teaspoon. Eventually the man sitting across the table offered her his soup spoon. She grabbed it out of his hand, set the teaspoon down, and began to eat her soup in a huff.
We were in dismay about what was transpiring.
And, we felt sorry for the server. (She was also our server.) But, I’ve been there. If you’ve ever worked in the service field, then you’ve probably been there, too. A simple mistake of a wrong spoon can send someone into meltdown–as the example that was set before us.
As the server walked by our table with her head lowered, we called her over and offered her our encouragement. We told her what a wonderful job she was doing taking care of her customers and we apologized on the upset woman’s behalf. She responded with a beautiful smile and a soft-spoken thank you.
Before long the manager swooped in and knelt down by the table of the upset woman and listened to her story. Not that we were intentionally eavesdropping or anything, but a few of her words were loud enough for all nearby to hear. Again, the teaspoon was wrong. Yes, it was a mistake. Yes, a soup spoon would have been the best spoon for her soup.
She expected a soup spoon and she didn’t get what she expected.
Boy, many lessons were before me from this luncheon experience!
Lessons like how sometimes life doesn’t give us what we expect. Or how not to act when I don’t get what I expect. Or how to stay calm when someone is upset. Not to mention the myriad of other lessons that were before me.
Personally, however, the lesson that rose above all the others was the reality that something small in our lives can cause an underlying pain or deep distress or unknown anxiety to surface. And when it does, it can get ugly and out of control. A small thing, like a teaspoon, set this woman on a downward spiral, and it was anything but pretty. My heart went out to her, as I could only imagine what underlying issue of hers was surfacing.
Did she just get a bad report from the doctor before lunch?
Was she walking through grief or heartache stemming from the loss of a loved one?
Was her wayward child making terrible life choices and she couldn’t help but feel helpless and hopeless?
Or, maybe she didn’t have a healthy outlet, like the circle of friends I was sitting with, to help her through the rough spots in life, and this kind server was blindsided by this woman’s emotions?
I’ll never know.
The teaspoon, however, likely wasn’t the problem at all.
It was just the instrument that prompted the outburst of inside emotions.
The manager stood up, thanked the woman for sharing and the couple for visiting the restaurant, and allowed them to leave without paying for their meal. She, too, understood the wrong spoon wasn’t the true issue.
So, what about you and me? What happens when a teaspoon gets the best of someone in our lives? Or a text you sent or a word you said or a gesture you offered? How do you and I respond? What happens when someone gets upset about something simple to us and we can’t understand why he/she is in such a tizzy?
Maybe next time I’ll think about this woman. Maybe that’ll prompt me to respond with compassion and not defensiveness like the manager of the restaurant did. I hope I can recall this lesson and realize there’s more going on than I see. And, to realize I’m just the one who triggered the underlying issue. I hope I’ll pray for the upset one instead of getting upset myself.
God can use any situation or object to teach us, can’t He? Even a silly little teaspoon. Hmmm. What is He teaching you today, friend?
God bless you!
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