The Monday morning that I met Rusty was an unforgettable one. I had the best morning worship because I was up rather early so I took the time to have devotion and to speak to God honestly about my life, work, family and other things. I ended worship with prayer asking God to use me to show others His love, I remember specifically asking that I be used a vessel to bring a smile to the faces of those that I came in contact with at the coffee shop and that I was willing to do my part. The funny thing about this story is that I found out that God had a huge sense of humour because He introduced me to Rusty in a way that I never would have thought.
I walked to work singing and humming hymns to myself and was in a great mood but that all was about to change. There was construction taking place at the train tracks that was just in front of our coffee shop and the construction work started early and in Canada work does not start before a good cup of coffee. The guys came in and took time to greet them as they came up to placed their order. Now, as it was just 5am we only had a staff of three, the manager who did office work, one other person who was working drive –thru alone and myself. This meant that I had to take the orders, make and serve the drinks as well as make sure that there was another pot of coffee going because people simply hate waiting for their coffee. I had it all figured out and everything was going rather smoothly. I kept my smile on as the guys moved in line. The next person who came up was anything and everything but pleasant. He smelled of alcohol and the look on his face said that he was not in the mood for chit-chat, just his coffee. I said good morning and asked him what he would like and he with the most grumpiest of voices managed to grumbled large coffee as he slammed a ten dollar bill on the counter and glared at me. I asked if he would like any cream or sugar in it and he looked at me and asked “ Did I ask you for any?” I took a deep breath, sighed and went on to count his change and return it to him and closed my till drawer and that’s it all started. I handed him his change and told him that I would get his coffee in just a moment. I looked up and realized that he had not moved and he was still holding his hand out with the change. “I gave you a twenty dollar bill” he screamed at me, “but you only gave me change for ten”. I looked at him and calmly stammered, “ umm no sir, you gave me a ten”, that didn’t go over very well and the verbal abuse started.
He called me every name in the book and I stood there not even moving. Finally, I said to him again that he only gave me a ten but that only angered him more and that’s when he threatened to punch my face in. I started to get scared but then I started to get angry. He was shouting and telling his co-workers that I was trying to rob him of his change. I told him that there was no twenty dollar bill in the drawer and that’s when he pushed pass the other customers and made his way around the counter and suddenly he was right beside me. He demanded that I opened the drawer and avoiding everything they taught us in training I did and there was not one twenty dollar bill in sight. He shouted that I was lucky and went back around where the other customers were. My ears were burning hot and I so was my face because I was angry. I made his coffee and told him to have a nice day and he replied “yeah, yeah, yeah”. The next customer came up and said that he was really proud of the way I handled the situation because he would have handled it differently. I smiled and nodded and told him that it’s part of the job. One by one the guys came up and all told me that I must have be a saint for not raising my voice or swearing back at him. I don’t think they knew how hard it was to keep my composure but I always think of what kind of impression my reaction will leave on people. During the day I mumbled a bit to God that the incident in the morning was not what I had in mind when I asked Him to use me during worship.
The next morning the construction crew came in again and Mr.Grumpy pants was right there in line. I said a quick prayer when I saw him and prayed that everything would go well. He came up ordered his coffee and threw a toonie “a toonie is a two dollar Canadian coin” on the counter, I forced myself to smile at him and told him to have a great day and he simply grabbed his coffee and left. The next morning we went through the same routine, forced smile, give coffee and said have a nice day. By Friday he managed to look at me and grumbled when I tried to make small talk. As he left I shouted “Have a great weekend and see you on Monday”. He looked back at me and smirked. I laughed to myself at the thought that I was killing him with kindness.
Monday morning came and all the guys lined up but I didn’t see Mr.Grumpy pants and I will admit that I was a bit relieved. I was busy serving everyone when I someone at the end of the line yelled “Good morning Smiley”, I looked up and saw Mr.Grumpy pants waving and smiling at me. I think I fainted I’m not sure. When it was his turn he came up and said “Good morning Sunshine”, I looked up, dazed and confused and asked him how was his weekend and he started to actually talk to me. I found out that his name was Rusty and that he was an alcoholic,and said he doesn’t know how I can smile so much but he loved my smile. He apologized for his behaviour the week before and said that he was just having a rough morning. Everyday after that Rusty would come in as the most joyous person ever. He nicknamed me “Smiley” and pretty soon all the other guys started calling me that too. He suddenly became one of of my best customers and even bought me a coffee on his last day of work.
If I had raised my voice to him, swore back at him, or even replied back in a rude manner to him, I never would have gotten to know him for who he was and he never would have gotten to know me. At work we are ambassadors for Christ, when people see us they should see characteristics of the Christ that we follow. It is difficult at times not to respond back with something equally mean or nasty but sometimes we have no idea what people are going through so we should always be willing to allow ourselves to be a vessel because one day you just might meet a great person like Rusty.