Last week I pulled up to the familiar talking box at McDonald’s for my mid-afternoon pick-me-up, a medium latte with skim milk. It’s a dollar and a half cheaper than Starbucks and it’s light enough that my taste buds don’t question the decision for coffee. “Welcome back”, the box said, startling me out of a daze.
I’ve always thought that was clever marketing, making you feel like you’re a familiar friend. It’s probably also why I justify stopping at any McDonald’s worldwide only to use the bathroom. They consider me a friend and the amount of money I’ve spent on Happy Meals would buy a BMW.
“What can I get for you today,” the lady in the box continued.
“I’d like a medium latte with skim milk, please.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t have skim milk”, she said firmly.
“Really?” I asked, thinking they should send someone up to Wal-Mart to pick up a couple cartons.
Before I could make that suggestion she said,” We only have fat-free milk.”
This is where some fast thinking had to take place. Was it worth it to explain that skim milk is fat free milk or simply say, “That will be fine”?
Evidently my thinking wasn’t fast enough.
“Hello? Are you there?”
I took a deep breath and exhaled, “Fat-free please.”
I’m reading a fabulous book by Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway. It’s the story of her journey finding mercy and grace along the way. She digs through why we’re so hard on people, demanding so much, so much crazy stuff that doesn’t matter at all. For those of us who struggle with correctness, this is challenge at it’s finest. The author even has the nerve to suggest the people we are hardest on might be ourselves. I’ve decided halfway through the book that, for me, getting a grip on mercy and grace is a marathon with a moving finish line.
As I pulled away from the McDonald’s pick-up window with my hot latte sporting half the calories, whether fat free or skim, I relaxed and smiled. It felt good to extend a tiny bit of grace and secretly hope someone might do the same for me. Now if I can just stay on this path or at least on the edges whispering hallelujah anyway!