05/17/2013 12:46 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2013

Don't Be a Crouton Counter

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Don't be a crouton counter! I realize that if you've never heard such a description, it probably sounds a bit strange to you so let me explain. "Crouton counter" is a term that I came up with after hearing evangelist Jamie Ragle tell a story a few years back.

As Jamie tells it, he was in Houston, Texas at a steakhouse that had one of those "all you can eat" salad bars. You know the kind, with enough food on it to feed an entire third-world county. But I digress.

Anyway, after he ordered a 16-ounce steak and baked potato, he proceeded to the salad bar to fix himself a side salad to go along with his meal.

As poor luck would have it, he happened to get stuck in line behind a woman who seemed to think that there was some sort of requirement to get everything that the salad bar offered in one trip.

She had a mountain of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, onion, and croutons, all slathered in blue cheese dressing, with two huge rolls on top of all of it.

After several minutes, he finished getting his salad and made it to his table (which happened to be sitting at an angle that allowed him to see the woman from the salad bar, as she eventually made it back to her awaiting husband).

He said his meal was excellent and he was stuffed to the gills at the end of it. As he was eating, however, he couldn't help but notice the woman from the salad bar. He said she ate as if this would be her last meal. In a word, she "devoured" almost all of her meal.

I say almost because several times, as she was eating her salad, he noticed that she would squinch up her face, pull a crouton from her mouth, and place it to the side. She then proceeded to eat the rest of her meal.

After his meal was done, Jamie was about to leave when he noticed the manager hurriedly come over to the woman and her husband's table. What in the world was this all about, he wondered to himself.

Then it was all revealed. In a loud and obnoxious voice, the woman announced (so everyone around her could hear) that three of her croutons were stale and she was not going to pay. Wow, imagine that?

For me, this story illustrates perfectly how many people (sadly) live their lives. They are looking for all the "bad croutons" in the world, and counting them along the way.

Well, guess what? If you want to find something bad, you can -‒ in any situation. But you can find lots of good stuff, too. It's all in what you choose to look for.

Is that to say that some complaints aren't justified? Or that you should just look the other way? Of course not! There are definitely times when you must complain, or say something. I'm only suggesting that you choose your battles wisely.

And if you don't get what I'm saying, or don't like the way I'm saying it, guess what? You're probably a crouton counter!

For more by Jay Platt, click here.

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