one of my favorite moments in clerks is when the cat jumps on the counter, provoking a customer to remark “cute cat. what’s its name?” and randall to savagely reply “annoying customer.” although the customer interpreted randall’s comment as proof that he was a “fucking dickhead,” at that moment i realized that randall was my customer service hero and the perfect incarnation of my attitude towards customers.
i still think that the latter fact is the foundation of good, workplace comedy. unfortunately, i’m also beginning to suspect that it is unfitting for a disciple of Jesus.
i was forced to think about these matters on saturday, when i bumped into an old acquaintance who i remembered as both a complete pain in the ass in hebrew class and an excellent example of a christian work ethic. since i’m trying to remain positive here, i’ll ignore the classroom and focus on the work place ethics.
this friend has served in the bowels of S.H.I.T.’s* bursar office for three years. his ultimate goal is to be a united methodist pastor and he has the theological training and the homiletical ability to pursue his goal immediately. however, since he finds it hard to serve people that he considers incompetent and/or a complete pain in the ass he has chosen to remain in his current position so that he can learn to humble himself and serve people more effectively. if i didn’t personally know the guy, i’d suspect that the story was a crock of shit. but seeing as that i’ve personally been served by and watched him serve others for three or four years, i cannot deny the power of his witness.
i thought about his Christ-centered, wholly incarnational, approach to ministry this weekend as we waited in line for cocktail weenies at a friend’s wedding and for the past 11 hours of work i’ve been trying to follow his example by bearing with incompetent customers and trying not to curse a number of my coworkers.
my friend’s commitment to humble ministry reminds me that every occasion presents an opportunity to incarnate Christ’s love and compassion to the other. as a result, i realize that i can utilize this limited stint in gift sales to walk the way of Jesus and so continue the journey of being conformed to the image of Christ or i can continue to revel in bitterness and, admittedly often wittily stated, condescension that divides me from others and ultimately points to death.
* also known as the South Hamilton Institute of Theology.