Would You Like Fries with That?

In my more cynical teaching days–also known as weekdays–I have desired to toss certain words at some of my low-achieving students. The exchange that I pictured went something like this:

Me: You’re just not writing at a college level here.

Them: But that’s just the way that I write.

Me: Oh, okay. Then you should practice this phrase: Do you want fries with that?

Related to that response is the long-considered, never-deployed idea of stapling a McDonald’s application to someone’s pitiful paper. These are the mental tricks that get some teachers through the long, dark days of the semester.

Let’s be clear that there’s no shame in somebody working at McDonald’s. My first job was at a fast-food place. I met my wife working there. But what if either Penny or I had been content to just keep slinging tacos and asking the Taco John’s equivalent of “Do you want fries with that?” Would that have been okay?

In exploring my “Better than Amazon” idea recently, I shared my encounter with “Megan” at Sutherland’s. You might recall that Megan was a little clueless in seeking out the two items that I wanted to buy. She simply couldn’t see one of the things and wrote the number down wrong on the other.

What Megan did possess that many people who will work their lives away in “Do you want fries with that?”-level jobs was some initiative. She wanted to help me. She wanted to find stuff for me. Granted, she failed on that afternoon with me, but she’ll know where the miter-saw stands are next time. She’ll take better care writing down the number next time. Unless I miss my guess, Megan will be more helpful when next I enter her store.

Look around your church and hopefully you’ll see people of various different ages, from children to grey-heads. What’s not so obvious, though, is the range of spiritual ages. We have far too many people in our churches who have been Christians for 40 years yet have only a year or two of maturity to their credit. These people sprang up in enthusiasm at some point but then stopped growing. These are the sort that Paul spoke to in 1 Corinthians 3:

For my part, brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, since you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready,

When fast-food joints hire people, they frequently start them on the register, which makes sense. You can’t burn the register, and you’re unlikely to cause food poisoning from there. Those are the people who learn to ask “Do you want fries with that?” Ideally, they will master that task and then move on to other, more demanding assignments. Many fast-food workers “graduate” to other employment that requires more skill and discipline, paying better also.

For a new follower of Jesus, there is no shame in working the church’s equivalent of the fast-food counter. There is shame, however, in not doing that to the best of our ability, of not growing beyond it if we have the ability. There is shame in, 30 years after our salvation, still complacently asking, “Do you want fries with that?”

Calories Don’t Count for This Guy

I’m not always proud of my Congressional Representative, but I will say that, at age 70, Emanuel Cleaver looks pretty fit and healthy. On that count, I wouldn’t be quite so thrilled with having Rep. John Shimkus voting on my behalf in Washington. Why? Let me explain.

301_5-calorie-counting-myths_flashIn a recent hearing regarding a bill that would require multi-site restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, Rep. Shimkus uttered these words for the ages.

“I don’t think I’ve ever looked for calorie numbers on anything I’ve consumed. And I betcha I’m in the majority of Americans,” Shimkus said. “This is the perfect example of nanny state, of a national government telling individual citizens and saying what is best for them.”

Take a look at the Congressman’s photo and you might be inclined to join me in saying, “Maybe you should!” But really that’s not fair. Shimkus looks, in some pictures, as if he’s carrying some extra pounds, but in others seems to be in reasonable shape. And in the final analysis, whether Shimkus is a porker or a rail should be irrelevant to whether this proposed bill is a good or bad idea.

While a bill that requires Hardee’s to post the calorie count of their Monster Burgers might be a nuisance, it is not nearly as intrusive (nor as silly) as the big-soda ban in New York. If seeing those numbers on a menu help me to make smarter choices or to persuade me to step away from the triple cheeseburger, then they’re worth the tiny bit of effort that the chains exert in coming up with them.

On the other hand, such signs won’t fit all situations. Think of the number of different combinations a person can have in a Chipotle lunch. Is a sign reading, “Calorie Count: 300-1300” really going to be the game-changer in fighting obesity?

Give me information, please, Rep. Shimkus. You won’t have to read the signs, but they’ll give me some power. Such power is good, but it doesn’t free me from the responsibility of having a bit of knowledge.