Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Spittin Image

Hey, this happened to me a couple days ago. Thought i'd share it with anyone who is interested....

A couple of youth and I were at a local mall to enjoy some Chic-Fil-A and then heading to the “Christian bookstore.” As a small caveat, I normally cringe when thinking about these establishments: Jesus fish erasers, WWJD oven mitts, and other objects of Christian consumerism (and overpriced objects at that) give me an uneasy feeling. Nonetheless this vendor of Christian paraphernalia carried a book I had unsuccessfully shopped for elsewhere.

When we walked in, I commented to one of my cohorts that I would hate to work at one of these Christian bookstores because if someone was a total jerk to you, it’s not like you could react negatively. I’ve never seen a Christian bookstore clerk cuss someone out.

As usual I meandered through some isles trying to avoid the stole section in search for the book I came to buy. I wanted to be in and out of there quick. I was unsuccessful in locating my desired purchase and asked an employee for help. She was indeed helpful. The “Christian Clerk” was perky, polite, and punctual in her assistance. She walked me to the appropriate section (which was a comfortable distance away from the novelty jewelry) and then we headed for the register.

I was in line behind another young gentleman and while he was being rung up by the same employee that assisted me I thumbed through my new book, read the back and inside covers, etc. As the guy in front of me walked out, with no apparent commotion I stepped up to the counter, looked down, noticed something was amiss and said: “Whoa, did someone spit on your counter?!” Up to this point, the kind young woman hadn’t noticed the stealth of the last patron.

The Christian Clerk then explained to me that he was upset because she wouldn’t let him return an opened CD and apparently he thought it appropriate to express his disapproval by emitting saliva before he left. As she was realizing what had just taken place, she started crying.

You have got to be kidding me. The youth I was with were at the front of the store and noticed my scrambling for how to react. I muttered: “Uuhh….do you have a towel or something?” I then proceeded to grab the Windex and paper towels from the sobbing girl’s hands and mopped up human saliva from a Christian bookstore register. I glanced at the employee’s nametag so that I could call her by name and explained that I thought she had been very helpful and that the anonymous spitter was a goon who had probably copied the CD to his iPod and was just trying to get his money back. I did all of this while trying to remain calm as a man reacting to a woman crying freezes up.

In the aftermath of the silent spit assassin, the youth and I went on a brief C.O.P.S. style search of the food court to find this guy and instruct him that spitting on a counter implies poor social and hygienic skills. To our disappointment he had left the mall, perhaps trying to rip off another Christian bookstore down the street.

Given my comment when I entered the store (the one about Christian bookstore employees having to be nice) it was ironic that I was an eye witness to an employee in a difficult/strange/gross situation. Initially the youth and I admired the poor girl who had to deal with a man spitting in her direct vicinity, for being such a “good Christian”. We talked about how we couldn’t believe that someone would do something like that in A CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE! *gasp* But it was then that I realized the “moral of the story”.

It shouldn’t matter that it was a Christian bookstore. There should be no heightened sense of moral conduct when you’re perusing Christian resources and novelties. No matter where you are, you should treat people the way Christ calls us to even when they spit in your face. If I was able to find that guy, approach him, and drop the a-hole bomb, what good would that have done? Believe me I wanted to. But would I have been any better than him? In chastising him for acting “un-Christian” I would have been perpetuating un-Christ like behavior.
That day at the mall I had an attitude check. I re-evaluated my understanding of my call to be the spittin’ image of Christ, whether I’m at a Christian bookstore or not.

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