My Missing Cheese Toast Lesson

learning about compassion

“I never got my cheese toast or utensils,” I complained to my husband. “The waitress is not doing a very good job.” Others in our large group started to grumble. We were on vacation, we were hungry, and the service was just plain lousy. The next time the waitress came to our table, my husband reached out and touched her arm. When she turned toward him, he caught her eye and asked, “How are you?” “I’ve had the worst day of my life,” she replied as tears filled her eyes. She continued, “My father has diabetes and had his lower leg amputated this morning. He wanted me to stay with him at the hospital. I couldn’t get anyone to cover my evening shift and I was late to work. I hope I don’t lose my job.” Her statement took my breath away. I was upset about cheese toast and she was worried about her very ill parent and her job. When we prayed for our meal, my husband also prayed for the waitress and her father.

That long-ago incident made a big impression on me. I wondered, how many times had I been insensitive with someone when they were going through a difficult time? Since then, when I am dealing with people, I try to be patient, take the time to make eye contact and simply ask, “How are you?” I am amazed at the life struggles and stories I’ve heard by asking this simple question. My life lesson learned from a missing piece of Cheese Toast.

Tonya Ruiz

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