Her Faith was Restored While Waiting at the Drive Thru

How an unexpected act of kindness at McDonald’s assured her that God’s good neighbors were everywhere.

Posted in , Apr 27, 2021

A watering can pouring out symbols of love, and the McDonalds logo; Illustration by Sonia Pulido

Every man for himself. That seems to be everyone’s motto these days, women and young people included. Even a quick stop at McDonald’s reminded me of it. Just as I started to pull into the parking lot, a white Camry cut right in front of me!

“Is it really that important to be first?” I muttered. The man behind the wheel couldn’t hear me, which was probably for the best. If he had heard, he might have had some angry words to shoot back at me right there in the blazing hot parking lot. Just like the grouchy lady at the supermarket the other day. I hadn’t even said anything to her, when she wheeled around and accused me of invading her space. Even when I apologized, she still wasn’t satisfied. She had to have the last nasty word. People these days!

I sighed and headed for the drive thru, keeping a safe distance from the Camry. My faith in humankind was flagging. And it wasn’t just a disappointment in strangers. I got steamed all over again, thinking about the mechanic I’d used for years. He’d turned out to be untrustworthy, charging me unnecessarily and off the books for his own gain.

This is just the way the world is now, even in Huntington, I told myself as I pulled up to the end of the short line of cars. Everybody’s out for number one.

The red door at the back of the restaurant opened and a young woman appeared. It was Jessie, who often worked behind the counter. She’d waited on me many times, and always with a smile. At least that’s the way she was in the past, I thought, my skepticism taking hold.

Jessie propped the door open with one hip, dragging out an oversize watering can and then another. She struggled to carry both at once, water splashing over her feet. They must have been filled to the brim.

I assumed she was headed down the pebbled path of boxwoods lined with sun-parched tubs of hot-pink petunias. That’s not her job, I thought, pulling up in line. The only person I’d ever seen working on the flowers was a dark-haired gardener from the landscaping company. Maybe Jessie has to do it now, I thought, watching her walk back inside the McDonald’s. Probably cutting costs. The bottom line. That’s all that matters. Not people.

I pulled up to the intercom and rolled down my window to order a Sprite. A blast of hot air blew into the car while I inched up to the pickup window. Jessie was returning to the parking lot with two more heavy watering cans. The dark-haired gardener from the landscaping company pulled up and hurried over to her.

“I thought it would be easier if I carried these out for you!” Jessie said once she’d caught her breath.

The gardener’s face lit up at this unexpected kindness. Jessie went back to her job inside. By the time I paid for my Sprite, the gardener was halfway through watering the petunias.

“What happened back there did my heart good!” I called to her.

“Mine too,” she said. “And my back as well. What a day!”

My first sip of Sprite was refreshing. But not half as refreshing as the reminder to never let negativity color my expectations of people in this world. God’s good neighbors were everywhere, if I kept my eyes open to them.

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