Monday, July 25, 2011

Turning heads at McDonalds

Today, as promised, I took the kids to their favorite place on Earth...the thrift store. This store is about 40 minutes away but well worth the drive!
The kids always find great bargains there and it makes them happy finding treasures they can't find in the retail stores.

Their behavior (and my growling stomach) warranted a McDonald's visit directly after. As I patiently waited for the older lady in front of us, to move aside so we could place our order, I noted her careworn wrinkles and her absence. Though she was twice my age, she was carrying a baby less than a year old in her arms and a boy stood by her side not more than 8 years old. It was such a rainy cloudy day yet her black shades covered her eyes. She seemed unaware that she was preventing other customers from ordering food but somehow she managed to step aside, collect her tray and move to a booth.

We unknowingly chose a table near them when our food was placed on a tray. As I finished my meal, the kids gobbled up their fries while engrossed in a deep conversation about all their ideas of pretend play with their 'new' toys upon arriving home. I watched the lady, still in her seat in body, but something was missing from her presence. When the older child finished his meal, they got up...and slowly walked out. They left a cheeseburger wrapper on the floor, and their drink containers and ketchup packets now decorated the table.

Most of the crowded McDonald's, full of lunch hour local employees, never knew she was even there. The remaining tables packed with Moms and their children who were within close vicinity, noticed. I saw heads turning in disbelief as the lady and children left the restaurant. My kids were the loudest (as usual) and began to verbally disapprove. "They just left? Who's gonna pick up that mess?" Thoughts ran through my head and for a moment, I was caught up in the shaming of the lady too. Although I said nothing aloud, I watched Moms roll their eyes, finish their meals and leave. I watched other families coming in and walking up to the booth only to turn away because it was dirty and find other seats. My kids were still complaining when their meals were finished and for a moment, I mentally asked how can I make this better? I stood up, took my tray over to the table, cleaned it off and threw away the trash. Again, heads turned. I walked back to our table, collected my kids and the most adorable family with matching shirts sat down at the messy lady's table completely unaware. As my children quickly followed behind me, scolding me as we walked out the door, "Why would you do that? That was HER MESS!" and all I could do was smile.

Before I cranked the car I told the kids, "I didn't have to do that. But it's not my place to judge the lady. She's likely doing all that she can do right now at this point in time. For all we know, she could have just lost a daughter, maybe she's having to raise those kids now and didn't even realize she'd left a mess. It was no big deal at all for me to take 30 seconds, clean up the mess and let someone else sit down there and enjoy time with their family."

The silence was quickly broken when my daughter said, "Ok, Mom, can you do surgery on my this doll when we get home? She's cut her arm!"

And we all went home. I could have left the McDonald's without cleaning up the table. But as my preacher once told us, ask God how to make it better, he'll show you. And just like that, I was a better Christian today. I still need a lot of work, but I'm getting better. Most importantly, I have four little eyes that watch everything I do. And giving them a better example than what I've given in the past is all I can ask for right now.


  1. AWESOME. See this is one i would post on FB if i was still there. sending to a 'few' of my closest friends :)