This being the Lenten season, many Roman Catholic parishes have Friday evening fish fries. They are social events open to the public. For years, members of my family have gone to one of these dinners each Friday during Lent, changing churches each week. Occasionally, I tag along.
Last Friday we went to one of our favorite ones -- different kinds of fish are available, and there is always a variety of side dishes. This is a particularly popular fish fry, so we always get there as early as possible. The dinner officially starts at 5 p.m. and continues for about three hours. We usually get there about 5:15 p.m.
When we pulled into the church's parking lot there were several vacant places, so we assumed we were ahead of the crowd and that the line would be short. When we got inside and to the gymnasium, with ample room for large crowds to sit and eat, we were pleased to notice that there were many vacant tables. Yes, we had beaten the crown.
But wait a minute! Although the line of people to the food was relatively short, it was barely moving, and behind us the line was growing longer by the minute. As we got closer to the food we could see what the problem was. At the head of the food table, one person not only had the job of taking the different colored tickets indicating what kind of fish you had ordered and whether it was fried or baked, she also was the one who had the job of putting the fish on your plate. No wonder the line was moving so slowly.
But when we got a good look at that person, we realized what the problem really was. She was a very elderly woman with bright-red hair, the white roots showing for at least an inch. Why in the world did they have a silly old woman like this in such a strategic position, holding up the entire line? She probably has been helping for so many years she just assumes she is entitled to this place at the head of the food table. That's the way with old people, isn't it: They just don't know when to step aside and let some younger people do the job. Oh well!
We continued to work our way slowly toward the food table, grumbling among ourselves about how we would run things if we were in charge. Finally, we got to the food. How wrong could we have been? It was not the "silly old woman" who was holding things up; she was as quick and efficient as anyone could have been. Yes, she probably had been doing the job for many years, and still doing it quite well!
So what was the holdup? It was the third person serving the food -- a young man dishing up the tater tots. He was out of his element. I'm sure he meant well, but he just couldn't do it!
What did I learn, or was reminded of, from this experience? Three things:
- As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. Many times we are too quick to judge people by what they look like, especially in this day and age of tattoos, body piercing, and weird dress; currently these practices are very prevalent with a cross section of our population. How a person looks doesn't necessarily tell us who the person really is and what his or her talents and abilities are. In this particular situation, I was especially guilty of a flagrant injustice; I am probably as old as the lady taking the tickets and serving the fish. Definitely "My bad!"