There’s something that’s been going on for awhile that’s really starting to irritate me. The more I see it, the more irritated I get. I don’t remember when it started, but it’s been going on for a least at few years now.
What am I talking about? It’s all of those cups and jars that are sitting on countertops next to the cash registers (and at drive-thru windows) at businesses all over town. They’re there for tips from customers who purchase items from the businesses.
I really get irritated when I see a cup or jar sitting on the counter and the person who is standing behind the cash register waiting on me appears to be incapable of smiling or saying “thank you” after I buy something. I suppose I’m just too old-fashioned. I still have the unreasonable expectation that a person who collects my money when I’m purchasing something should at least smile (or fake a smile) and say “thank you” after I hand over the money. After all, the money I give to the employee is helping to pay his or her wages.
Now don’t get me wrong here. When I go to a restaurant and get good (or great) service from a waiter or waitress, I always leave a generous tip. In fact, I try to give more than what is customary because I’ve been in their shoes before. I worked as a busboy at a restaurant while I was in high school, and later as a room-service waiter at the hotel where the restaurant was located. I learned quickly that if I hustled and was cheerful, I would be well-rewarded with tips.
Last week I went through the drive-thru at the Wendy’s that is located in the Glen Hollow Shopping Center. When I drove up to the order station, an energetic and enthusiastic female voice said: “What can we do at Wendy’s today to make it a great day for you?” My immediate thought was, “Huh? What did she say?” I was momentarily stunned. It felt as though I had been zapped with one of those electric taser guns that police officers use shock people into submission.
When I came to my senses, I barked out my order: “Two small chilis and a junior bacon cheeseburger.” Then I heard, “That’ll be $4.71, please pull around and we’ll get your order for you right away.”
I pulled forward and stopped behind the car that was stopped ahead of me at the payment window. While I was looking for the correct amount of change, I heard someone calling out to me. I looked up and the lady who took my order was leaning outside of the payment window waiving her arms like she was trying to flag me down. “Sir, sir! We’re ready to serve you. We have your food ready.” “Huh? Is she talking to me?”
I threw the change down, drove up to the window and grabbed $5.00 out of my wallet to hand to her. She had a big smile on her face and started to tell me that she didn’t mean to startle me, but she wanted to make sure to keep the line moving. I pulled out another dollar and handed her $6.00 and told her, “Keep the change as a tip. You’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work!”
She immediately thanked me for the tip and with a big smile told me to have a great day. She seemed surprised that I gave her a tip. (Oh, and by the way, there was no tip jar at her window).
After I got my food and started to drive away, I thought: “Wow, she was either on drugs or she really is excited about life and full of enthusiasm.” I set aside my tendency to be cynical and decided that she probably loved her job and loved pleasing people and seeing them smile.
That was only the second time I have ever tipped a person at a drive-thru window. The first time was last year when the person who was taking my money was extremely cheerful and upbeat – again someone who really enjoyed what she was doing and liked seeing her customers smile.
The next day it occurred to me that maybe I need to be a little more excited about life and full of enthusiasm. It also occurred to me that maybe I also need to show God how excited and enthusiastic I am about my Catholic faith.
I would guess that a good share of the people who communicate with God through prayer tend to be on the sad, depressed or needy side of life. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems as though people are, in general, a lot mopier than they used to be. How much more effort does it take to show some enthusiasm and excitement about life? How much more effort does it take to show some enthusiasm and excitement about our faith?
Enthusiasm is contagious.
If God sees that we are enthusiastic and excited about our Catholic faith, He will feel compelled to reward us, just as I felt compelled to reward the girl who took my order at Wendy’s. But God’s reward will not be a tip. Instead, it will be a blessing that will be of immense benefit to us.
Does God hold back certain blessings from us? Yes, He does. He often waits for us to interact with him and/or our “neighbor.” When we interact with Him through prayer, we are rewarded with blessings. When we practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy which directly benefit our “neighbor,” we are rewarded with blessings.
When we pray with enthusiasm or assist our “neighbor” with enthusiasm, God reciprocates with an equal or greater amount of enthusiasm, and the blessings he bestows upon us are multiplied by the degree of enthusiasm that we show.
Of all of Christ’s apostles, I think St. John the Evangelist was the most enthusiastic. You can tell from the way he wrote and behaved that he had the energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm of a young, excited boy. He had a faith that shouted: “The sky is the limit!”
If we can work at being more enthusiastic and excited about our life and the lives of others, we will not only be happier, but we’ll attract more people to the Catholic faith.
Give it a try. Start showing some enthusiasm and excitement when you interact with our Lord and with others. Pay attention to how people respond. But beware. They may think you’re on drugs because they’re not accustomed to seeing that type of behavior.