"Hi there, welcome to [the chili place]. I'm just warning you, I'm having a really off day but I'll do my best to take care of you," was the brash, unprofessional greeting we received from our server. The girls and I eyed each other; this was not southern hospitality at its finest. I pulled my usual stunt in awkward situations and tried to be cheerful and funny: "Let's make this the table that turns your day around!" That was about as effective as usual; still, she was helpful with the menu and we put in our orders and told here we weren't in a hurry. We had years' worth of catching up to do and soon would have oceans between us again.
It's a good thing we weren't in a hurry, because the wait was long. I kept watching out of the corner of my eye as our server went from table to table. They were clearly understaffed for lunch hour. At one point the manager pulled her aside for what looked like a Serious Talk, and suddenly the thought struck me: "Isn't it funny that Rachel and I were both craving chili? I wonder if God wanted us to come here to meet this girl."
Whether the craving was by divine inspiration or not, the Story I love so well was bubbling up in my heart and I was eager to share the hope it's given me. As busy as the cafe was, though, I knew I'd have to make it quick. I looked for our server's name on our bill and when she came to pick it up, I just asked, "Amy, you said you're having a bad day – is there any way we can pray for you?"
"Sanity," she replied, with the brusqueness we'd gotten used to. Then she got choked up. "And pray that I'll have a job at the end of the day." She swiped at her eyes and hurried off with our checks.
"Pray that I still have a job at the end of the day."
Also: the chili was delicious. And I'm pretty sure he knew that, too.
(I like to make it with black beans and mushrooms and a touch of coffee and extra spices.)