Wisdom from the Trenches

101_1815She was a young girl of 16, working a summer job as a waitress in a small-town greasy spoon. It might have been her second night on the job, or perhaps it was her third–after all, she had only lasted 3 days. As boredom and indifference quickly set in, she had flung down her order pad and called it quits, her career ending before it had barely begun. Yet, despite her brief stint amongst the dirty dishes and the uneaten dinner rolls she discreetly transferred from customer’s plates back to the oven’s warming drawer (she had reasoned to herself that they were ‘still good’), a lifelong lesson had been learned that she carried in her tender heart for over 40 long years… a lesson taught by a young, kind-hearted, down-home cowboy who ‘just happened’ to be seated at one of her tables. He had wandered into the greasy spoon for a late night meal, and after she had set down that glass of cool water in front of him with it’s tiny, unidentifiable floaties in it, she struck a disinterested yet expectant pose; with tablet in hand, she clicked her ink pen, and surly demanded:   “Whadda ya want?  

He didn’t miss a beat…   He’d most likely come across a few folks like this before, it wasn’t his first rodeo. And in a slow, southern, country drawl, he wisely responded: “A sweet smile and a few kind words…”

A sweet smile and a few kind words!     “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  Proverbs 16:24.

Of course, I had to have some fun with you in that first paragraph, as that 16-year-old was yours truly. I had planned on spending a summer in that small town, working at a job–which I did quit within 3 days! I’ve never forgotten the cowboy’s reply, and I admit, I’ve had plenty of fun re-telling the story. Nonetheless, those wise words have stayed with me–a reproof for an unprofessional, unfriendly, uncaring attitude.

As we get to know people, we find that you never know what someone may be going through on a daily basis. A loved one may have cancer, a child may be going down the wrong road, a job may have been lost, a relationship may be on the rocks. We never know what effect our words may have on someone. How difficult is it to make a kind comment or a few words of encouragement?  Not difficult at all. Perhaps think of the words you would like to hear, it could be just the ticket to make someone’s day. They may have been thinking of suicide, or feeling unappreciated, or struggling just to get through the next few hours. If we observe someone for a few moments or days, surely we can find at least one redeeming quality to admire.  We can be honest–we don’t have to fake it or come up with false words–no need to tickle ears and flatter with words that have no substance.

‘Pleasant words’… like the new, tender green leaves of a Weeping Willow tree lightly dipping into the waters of a secluded country pond; just brushing the surface, gentle ripples emanating from the movement of quiet, silent fish.   ‘Honeycomb’… golden, clear, sweet to the soul–not sour, nor harsh. ‘Healing’, strengthening, healthy, not harmful to the bones.

“A sweet smile and a few kinds words…”  Well, I didn’t smile too sweetly or broadly, as I would have revealed the orthodontic braces on my teeth, but I did chill out and change my attitude, and I know that if I were to ever waitress again, I’d be a much kinder soul. Thanks cowboy!


Top Photo: ‘Back Alley’  J.Richter 2013



12 thoughts on “Wisdom from the Trenches

  1. Sweet story, Joy! Thanks for sharing it, and I’m really glad you have kept this blog. I mentioned you to Bob just yesterday…”I wonder how Joy and Floyd are doing.” “Yes,” he said, “We need to keep praying for them.

    So…praying for you!


  2. Al Capone quote – You can get a lot farther with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone.

    Just kidding. Great post. Your writing style rings the bell with me. JZ

  3. Think of all the sermons you have heard I wonder if this one cowboy has had more impact on your life than most preachers. Each of us has such power to bless, may we do so each day.

  4. Hey, hey, hey. She’s back.
    Hello Joy, saw your e-mail notification this morning, still love your blog. Nice post and cause for reflection, you certainly have changed over the intervening years, havn’t you?
    Much blessing for you and Handyman, Geoff.

  5. I so enjoyed this JOY… a friend and I had just dicusssed this very subject! I mentioned the attitude of a LOT of cashiers in our local stores. How unkind they are in not thinking upon others and the possible day they are having.. how a SMILE and KIND WORD could be a great comfort. We talked about how she and her daughter had to shop for a baby dress ect for her little grandaughters funeral. A time of deep sorrow. Did they know.. of course not.. but KIND WORDS would bring a moment of peace at such a time.
    Your writing is amazing!! Love you girl!! C :

    • Yes, an excellent example of the need to be sensitive to the trials others may be going through. My husband had mentioned that an older co-worker was always quiet and just did his job. Come to find out his wife is in the midst of cancer treatments… we just never know.

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