Spending time at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles was not my idea how to begin a recent Tuesday. The office is closed on Monday the day I realized my driver's license was missing. I could feel my anger build as the day progressed, realizing I needed to add one more thing to the next day, already stacked with activity.
Since my attitude was not helping my approach to the day, I asked God Monday evening to make my wait at the BMV a time of holiness - either give me an opportunity to bless someone or open my heart to what another might teach me.
Tuesday I arrived early to the local branch. Walking to the lobby inside the front door where people wait for the office to open, I quickly was joined by a man and a woman who seemed to know each other. We chatted about the Colt's game the previous night, wondering where the long-promised "near Super Bowl performance," was in the third loss of the season.
As our wait continued, these people described their places of employment - the man worked in a warehouse and the woman was a Kroger manager.
I said to the woman, "What is the most challenging part of your job?"
"People try to get things free and use outdated coupons," she answered.
We chuckled, still waiting in the lobby for the office to open.
The woman added, "I am always thinking of customer service in my job. I wish these people would at least let us in to take a number and wait in a chair rather than just stand. I'm getting tired. Today is my first day off in two weeks."
When I worked for St. Vincent Hospital, patient care was our primary focus. However, our department scores on patient satisfaction were given at quarterly meetings. These markings, comparable to customer satisfaction, were monitored closely. We often attended programs and workshops on effective communication with and care of patients as well as their families and friends.
When I read the gospels, Jesus' pattern of interaction always demonstrates attention, love and compassion - especially to those people on the fringe of society.
In Jesus' day, those on the fringe had diseases like epilepsy, leprosy or were considered demon possessed. Women were regarded as secondary citizens, certainly not worthy of association with someone like Jesus or other me in positions of town leadership and authority.
Jesus regarded everyone with love - that's wonderful customer service.
Reflecting about people on the fringe today, the homeless come to mind as well as those who are unemployed, living in poverty, struggling with addictions or mental illness.
Everyone in some way may feel on the fringe at various times in life as struggles with illness, relationships, grief, job loss and other challenges of living can make us feel alone or isolated. We all need excellent "customer service," especially during those times - whether from people or directly from God.
The woman waiting with me in the BMV lobby had compassion for those who were standing behind her, waiting to enter the main office. Although she couldn't change the circumstances, her thoughtful remark carried desire and concern for others. That reminded me of Jesus, the Master of customer service who regards everyone with love. I know I felt loved that day by simply chatting, and the day offered these moments of holiness, just as I had prayed.
Prayer: God, providing customer service to those we encounter means following Jesus' model of love and compassion. Strengthen us to go out of our way to reach those whom we see "on the fringe" with the embrace of Christ. Open our eyes to family and friends who may be going through circumstances that make them feel "on the fringe" even temporarily. Deepen our capacity to love greatly all we encounter for in each other we see you. Amen.