My truck was in the shop and I was hungry so I walked to a nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant for some home cooking. I ordered my standard vegetable plate with corn bread and busied myself losing at their famous peg-in-the-hole game.
Moments later Veronica, my waitress, plopped down my veggies and proclaimed, “The cornbread ain’t ready.”
I laughed and made a comment about that being the story of my life.
“Well, you DID come in a few minutes before we serve lunch.” She spun on her heels and walked away.
I could have pointed out that it was now past eleven, the time they begin serving lunch. Or I could have blamed it on the host who provided both the breakfast and lunch menus. I could have even told Veronica not to blame me that they weren’t ready to provide me with my ordered cornbread.
Instead, as I pondered her interesting answer, I realized the response did not match the event. So that meant something else was going on. So, when Veronica finally did bring my cornbread–hot, flaky cornbread with fresh, warm butter… just sayin’– I thanked her and said, “You seem unhappy today. Is everything alright?”
Her eyes filled with tears and she hurried away. Moments later she returned, her eyes red. “I’m having the most terrible time right now.” For the next ten minutes, Veronica explained how she’d lost both parents in eight days. And this on the heels of her husband leaving her for someone… umm… younger. She had no place to go, no money and had to get the job she had waiting tables.
When I finished my meal and rose to leave, Veronica returned to my table and gave me a big hug. Through tears that flowed for the second time in twenty minutes, she said, “Thank you for taking time to care.”
As I walked back in to the coolness and sunshine, her words really hit me hard. How many times had I been faced with a similar situation and never bothered to look beyond the fact that “the cornbread ain’t ready” to see a hurting fellow human being? Far too many I’m afraid.
Though I was able to reach out and help Veronica, she did much more for me than I ever did for her. I remembered that when people’s reaction is greater than the event, they’re living the emotion of something far bigger than the event. And I was reminded that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And, it doesn’t take much time to show someone you care. I was finished with my meal and out the door in the same amount of time I would have had I not had my encounter with Veronica.
In every eatery, grocery store, garage, car wash, hotel or hospital Veronica walks down the hallways. They halfheartedly muddle through their jobs. We just don’t realize that’s all they have to give because they are fighting insurmountable odds just to keep moving forward.
What am I saying? When someone tells you, “The cornbread ain’t ready,” It’s not about the cornbread. It’s never about the cornbread.