For most of 1991 and the first quarter of 1992, I worked for Grandy’s. If you’re not from Oklahoma or Texas you may not be familiar with the home-style restaurant chain that serves “Fast Food that Doesn’t Taste Fast.”
I was hired on as a cashier, although I quickly learned how to cook and work drive-thru as well. Sometimes on the weekends I went in to work at 5am to help open the store, and sometimes I stayed until midnight or later cleaning things up. If there was a job to do at Grandy’s, I probably did it.
I never cared much for working the “front line” cash registers, but working drive-thru was always kind of fun. In a way it was kind of like running your own little restaurant. In drive-thru you got to take the order, collect the money, assemble the order, and hand deliver it to the customer.
One Sunday afternoon during our weekly post-church rush, a man came through drive-thru and ended his order with “don’t forget the damn dinner rolls.” I read the man his order back and assured him that I wouldn’t forget his damn dinner rolls.
(For those of you who have never eaten at Grandy’s, their dinner rolls are made daily and are given away freely to customers. Dine in customers can have as many as they would like. In many stores, “Granny” walks around with a bread basket and a pair of tongs, handing them out to customers.)
While bagging up the man’s food, I grabbed an extra box with a dozen dinner rolls in it and added it to his sack along with some butter and honey, free of charge. When I handed the man his food he apologized and said, “It just seems like you always forget the dinner rolls.”
“Me?” I asked.
“Well not you specifically,” he said. Then I nodded and he drove off.
I don’t know why that little thirty-second exchange made such an impression on me, but it did. It must have though, if I still remember it 22 years later. What I took away from it was that I, at that moment and to that guy, represented Grandy’s. (In all fairness I was wearing a Grandy’s shirt, a Grandy’s name tag, and a Grandy’s hat.) I don’t know why it had never occurred to me, but up until that very moment I didn’t feel like I represented Grandy’s. From my perspective I was just Rob, a kid wearing a costume and handing out chicken and dinner rolls to people in drive-thru. To that guy though, I was Grandy’s.
I’m trying to keep that in mind every time I read on Facebook or the Internet how government employees are “getting what they deserve” now that sequestration has arrived and furloughs are about to begin. It is easy to point fingers at “the government” in general and find specific examples of overspending or poor judgement. (Trust me.)
But if you would, as I patiently await details of the impending furlough, keep in mind that I wasn’t the guy that forgot your dinner rolls.
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