March 15, 2017

The Life Lesson I Learned from the Stranger at KFC.

I went into a fast food restaurant to pick up something for lunch.

Along with my order, I picked up several unexpected life lessons as well.

Just as I approached the door, a young man came up to it.

His not too clean clothes, and the fact that his torn jeans were so low-slung that he was actually holding them up by one hand, made his appearance noticeable.

Did I have a “thought” about all of that?

Yes, I did. However, before I could finish my thought, the young man reached in front of me with his free hand and held the door open for me.

“Thank you!” I said, wondering to myself how it happens that a world in which a young man who holds his pants up with one hand and a world in which he holds a door open for an older woman could merge.

“Gorgeous day,” I said in a feeble attempt to forgive myself for having been critical of him.

“I’m blessed to be blessed,” he said, to which I—having heard that expression frequently when I was singing in a gospel choir—responded, “Amen, my man. Amen.”

Funny the things that embarrass people, but from the body language of the girl behind the register, I could see she was embarrassed.

Fleetingly, I wondered whether it was my “Amen,” or the young man’s comment about being blessed to be blessed, or his half-falling-down pants that made her look away as if she was seeing something she didn’t want to see.

I didn’t really have time to think about her show of embarrassment, as she was ready to take my order, and I hadn’t yet made my choice from among the kajillion and one high-fat, high-sugar, fried options listed on the board overhead.

What an indulgence it was.

“I don’t think I’ve had a piece of Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken for 20 years,” I told my husband as I got back into the car.

“It’s been so long, honey, that they don’t even call it Colonel Sanders any more—they call it KFC,” he responded to me.

Just as I was ready to close the door, the blessed to be blessed young man came up to the car and reached out to me.

“Here, ma’am. You left these on the counter inside.”

In his hand were the half-dozen various cards that I keep loose inside my purse for ready access—including my driver’s license, debit card, and my Medicare card.

He might as well have been reaching out and handing me my prejudices and judgments.

“Oh, my god? Where were they?” I asked him incredulously.

“You left them on the counter when you paid just now.”

“I wonder if that’s all of them?!”

The young man said he thought it was, but that he’d go back inside and double check. He was back inside the restaurant in a flash.

Such a simple interaction beginning with one stranger holding open a door for another stranger ended with that second stranger sharing his blessings.

“You’ve sure shared your blessings with me this morning,” I said, reaching my hand out to the young man. “Thank you!”

“It’s all right ma’am,” he said back, his dark eyes looking into mine as if he was telling me only part of a story. “Today, I had enough blessings to go around.”

I took the cards and put them back into my purse.

I used to think lessons only came in big books with fancy writing, or that they came from pulpits, or in profound ways with the word “commandment” written in front of them.

But as I’ve grown older, I know that isn’t the only way they have ever come, or even the most often way they have come.

They also come in everyday moments right inside KFC.

All I have to do is to pay attention.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: William Murphy/Flickr

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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