Hannah notices things others miss. The other day she was standing in line at McDonalds. It was lunchtime and the place was packed. The door to the right of where she was standing opened and a gush of cold wind shot through the front end of the fast food restaurant.
For a moment it masked the smell of the man who walked through the door. But when that door shut it became apparent to everyone waiting to order and pick up their food, there was an offensive odor, a putrid stink permeating the area.
John is homeless. Inability to treat his mental illness led him to drug addiction and social behavior problems. He has been on the streets since age nineteen, his family lost track of him. He is on his own living his life the only way he knows how. He gets help from a couple different social service agencies in the city. He has a favorite corner where he sits for hours with a Dunkin Donuts cup asking for spare change.
He’s a low level street hustler. He has no shtick and he doesn’t make much. Today he has enough to buy a chicken sandwich and coffee. It’s a treat for him. He loves McDonald’s chicken sandwich above all other food. Even though he’s poor and his mind is muddled, he still has tastes and preferences, desires and dislikes just like you and me.
John walked up to the counter like Moses. Literally, the sea of people parted to make way for him to get to the front quickly and place his order. A woman in line grabbed her son tight and held him close while she walked backward away from the disgusting man. A construction worker shook his head disapprovingly while he too stood aside to let John through.
And so it went until John was standing before José on the other side of the counter who took his order and counted out the coins and the single dollar bill from the well-worn cup his customer offered as payment.
“Your number is 225” José said as he handed the receipt to John.
John was a regular at this McDonalds – he knew the drill. He walked over to the far left side where he went to stand alone waiting for his sandwich and coffee.
By now the people resumed their positions waiting in line, placing their food orders and waiting for their number to be called to pick up their food.
Hannah, ever observant, noticed that John was tense from the ordeal. This is not a person accustomed to following the social norms. So she did something simple. She caught his eye and smiled at him. He smiled back.
“Have a blessed day.” She said as he started toward the door after getting his order.
“You do the same.” John said with a shy smile as he walked out the door.
A little boy watched the entire exchange. He was the one whose Mom held him so close when John first walked through the door. The young boy learned something important that day. He learned compassion from Hannah, humility from John, and he learned to feel gratitude to God.