yesterday at starbucks i got yelled at by a customer, for the first time.
he ordered a venti™ black iced tea, unsweetened, and he instructed me to “go light on the ice, buddy“, so i did.
now, at starbucks, everything gets measured to the Nth degree, to the point of ridiculousness.
we have separate measuring cups for putting ice into tea, one for each size: tall, grande & venti™.
we also have a special plastic container used to make iced tea with — marked in such a way so that you can precisely measure the amount of brewed tea concentrate to put in, then pumps of sweetener (if any) and then water, and then ice.
assuming you filled everything up correctly, it all comes out so that it fits into the plastic “cold” cup perfectly.
but this guy told me to go light on the ice, so i did not use the venti™ ice measurer but rather the tall one.
this means there was almost half an inch of air at the top of his cup when it was all said and done.
this was not, as it turned out, what he meant by “go light on the ice”.
i handed it to him and he informed me that i was to “fill it to the fucking top” and that i should give him “a fucking break” because he had “paid two fucking dollars” for it, so i had better give him his “money’s worth”.
i smiled, apologized, took his tea back, filled the remaining half inch with brewed concentrate, walked back to him, handed it to him and told him i hoped that this was better, and told him — very sincerely — to have a wonderful afternoon.
he realized he’d been a dick and said, “thanks buddy” and walked out sheepishly.
it is tempting, in such situations, to react with anger, and i felt the impulse well up within me.
but i did not — i took half a second and realized that getting angry over this was just silly and so i went the other way, sincerely, and reacted with pleasantness.
i truly wanted to fix it for him — the poor guy just wanted a full cup of tea that he paid $2.16 for, afterall, and i was in a position to help out.
getting angry with him over it wouldn’t effect his day any, really, but it would effect mine — putting me in a sour mood (i was already fighting a headache and we were insanely busy).
so, i reacted with kindness, and was reminded of paul’s instructions to the romans in chapter 14 (i think) about revenge:
do no seek revenge, says the lord — the justice is mine to repay. instead react to anger with kindness, and in so doing it is like heaping hot coals on his head.
i was always struck by that last phrase there — wondering at paul’s felt need to tack it on.
it wasn’t enough for paul to inform the romans that christ followers were not to seek vengeance on their own, but rather to allow god to do it (a very karma kind of thought — very eastern).
instead he went on and said “by being kind it will hurt your enemy even more than if you were mean!”
is this not antithetical to the very message of kindness and forgiveness purportedly being taught?
i do not mean to imply that i think it is bad advice — as i said above, getting angry would only have ruined my day, so reacting with kindness was a better course of action.
but it do think it odd that that last phrase is in there.
assuming there’s a creator out there who cares how we treat one another, i doubt that her motive for us not seeking vengeance on our own is so that it will be like heaping hot coals on the mean person’s head.