Discount Dilemma

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Emily M. Akin –

 

“Decaf coffee, please,” I said as I stepped to the head of the line. The teen behind the counter looked puzzled, so I repeated my order.

“One decaf coffee,” he said, ringing it up. “That’s 60 cents.”

“But the coffee price is $1.00,” I said.

“Senior discount,” he announced, already heading for the coffee machine.

I looked around to see if anyone might have heard him. The man in line behind me smiled. I didn’t know whether to feel insulted, honored or lucky to save a few cents. Since I was holding up the line, I let it go and moved on. I felt like a fraud because I didn’t really qualify for the discount. But, what made him think I was a senior citizen? Was it the dozen or so gray hairs? Did I appear decrepit and therefore truly deserving of the discount?

Senior discounts are a good marketing tool, but they can backfire. That young man went out on a limb giving me the discount. He probably thought he was doing me a favor. What if I had taken it as an insult? I might have caused a scene in front of all the other customers. He forced me to let everyone think I was over the hill already—not a kind thing to do to someone teetering on the brink of seniorhood. What was just another order for him was a stark wake-up call for me. To him, I looked old.

Another time, I went to a buffet restaurant with friends my age. The server, who seemed new to the job, eyed the bald-headed man in the group. “Does anyone get the senior discount?” she asked in all innocence. To which the shiny-head replied, “One of us does.” After the meal, the server returned with the bill listing all of our orders on the same ticket. One of us got the senior discount. We had to figure out who it was before we went to the counter. Experienced or not, that server successfully avoided insulting anyone. She passed the buck to the man at the checkout counter.

A gray-haired friend ordered food at a drive-in window. The cashier gave the total, announcing that she had received the senior discount. She wondered why he thought she qualified. Did she have a doddering, elderly voice? She was depressed for several days thinking she sounded old, until someone suggested that there was probably a video camera next to the drive-thru speaker. Not much comfort. She didn’t sound old, she just looked old.

But what’s the solution? If the employees are trained to give the senior discount to anyone who looks old enough, they don’t have to ask. But, they also run the risk of insulting folks who look older than they are. It’s true, the customer is compensated for the insult, but it doesn’t make for repeat customers. Why don’t they start carding people for senior discounts? That way, if you want that discount, you have to admit your senior status publicly.

A restaurant in my town has come up with a solution. The sign at the register says, “Senior Discount Available. Just ask.” This puts the ball entirely in the customer’s court. The employees don’t have to risk offending anyone, and customers can get the discount if they’re brave enough to request it. A classic win-win situation.

Stuck Like Glue

March 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

I should not be allowed anywhere near Superglue. Remember the old TV commercial where the construction worker hangs by his hardhat from a support beam? That could so be me.

OK, so I was opening a new tube of Superglue the other day. My son had stepped on his Nintendo Gameboy and had broken off a piece of plastic. Supermom to the rescue, right? Sure.

Anyway, as I said, it was a new tube. That means you have to unscrew the lid, turn the pointy nozzle around, and jab it into the seal. Simple.

I managed steps one and two alright, but the seal refused to puncture. I jabbed and forced and contorted the tube all around until finally, clear, sticky gel oozed out. And oozed some more. And some more. I tried to catch it on a piece of cardboard, intending to then dip toothpicks for my fine, crafty Nintendo repair. But the ooze kept spewing out of the tube.

I tried to screw the nozzle back on, but gel squirted out around the edges and ran down the side. Keep in mind this is happening in a matter of seconds. So I got the lid in place and tossed the thing in the trash.

Except that it didn’t let go.

No, the tube was stuck to my forefinger and thumb. And my forefinger and thumb were secured to the middle and ring fingers. And the fingernails on the opposite hand were freshly coated with a new layer of nail strengthener.

I was tempted to panic but instead remembered my pediatrician’s warning that cooking oil dissolves Superglue. You see, two of my kids have had cuts sealed with glue instead of with stitches, so the doctor had told me to keep the glued area clear of oils. Time to ignore the doctor’s orders!

I pried open the olive oil and drenched my fingers over the sink. I rubbed and wiggled and scraped myself to freedom, then washed away the residue. The menacing tube dared me to touch it. It knew my fear as it challenged from the counter. In one fell swoop, I tore off a paper towel, scooped up the glue, and dropped both into the waste bin.

Ah, sweet freedom!

I think it may be what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you…remain in the vine…remain in me…I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:4-5). Except that the opposite effect occurs. If I remain in Superglue, I can do nothing. However, if I remain in Christ, I can do all things. I am going to stick to Him like glue.

And I think maybe Duct tape will work fine on the Gameboy.

Will the Real Superwoman Please Stand Up?

March 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kathi Macias –

I’ve always been a control freak who wanted everything to run smoothly—perfectly, actually. No bumps or surprises, just—well, a “tight ship,” as they say. And somewhere along the line I got the idea that I could make that happen—if I just tried hard enough. I think it may have started when I first saw Superman on our family’s black and white TV and wondered, Is there a Superwoman somewhere? When I put that question to the adults in my life, theysmiled and patted me on the head and said, “I don’t think so, dear.” So I decided to sign up for the job—a reasonable if somewhat naïve aspiration for a six-year-old, not so reasonable and way beyond naïve at twenty-six. Two decades after the birth of my Superwoman dream, I was still running as fast as I could and getting nowhere. My twenty-year-old dream was going down for the count, and I was nearly at the point of throwing in the towel—until I met Jesus.

What a difference! Now I could latch on to verses like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “All things should be done decently and in order”—biblical affirmations of my desire to do things right, to do things efficiently and effectively, to do things with power and authority. Finally I was invincible—in Jesus, of course. Now all I needed was a godly role model and I’d be on my way.

I began my search in earnest, reading through the Scriptures until I came to Proverbs 31.Eureka! There, at last, was the epitome of the Superwoman I’d been hoping to become since I was six years old. The perfect woman—perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect housekeeper, perfect entrepreneur—all rolled into one! Not only did her husband and children praise her, but God must have approved of her as well or He certainly wouldn’t have included her as an example in the Bible. My dream was alive and well once again! At last I would be able to “get it all together,” to win instead of fail, to run a tight ship, and to keep things under control. Life was good, and the future looked bright.

There was only one problem. I hadn’t figured on all the loose cannons rolling around the deck of my not-so-tight ship….

You see, I had a family—meaning, I shared my life with other human beings. Not only were those other humans imperfect (and yes, I was aware that I was imperfect as well), but they didn’t consider me Superwoman at all. It seemed the harder I tried to organize them, the more unruly they became.

After years of trying to get them to march in lock-step, keeping their rooms clean, their clothes hung up, their homework done (I’m including my husband in this line-up!), I achieved nothing except exhaustion. And then one day—finally—I fell to my knees and cried out, “God, I’m tired! I just can’t do all this. It’s not fair! Why do I have to do everything?”

If God chuckles—and I imagine He does—He undoubtedly did so at that moment. In fact, I think I may have heard Him, even as He silently but firmly answered my question: “Nearly everything you are doing is by your own assignment. All I asked you to do was come and sit at My feet. Sadly, you’ve been far too busy for that.”

Talk about a reality check! And so Superwoman hung up her cape, apologized to her family, and reduced her to-do list to one item: Spend time with God. At last I had figured out that if I did that one thing, God would see to it that the rest got done—with or without my help. And as time went on, much like the Proverbs 31 woman’s experience, my husband and children rose up and declared me blessed.

Pull the Wool Over Your Eyes

February 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

I relieved the nursery caregiver during the children’s naptime. For a few minutes, I rocked beside a little girl asleep on her mat. I glanced down to see one little eye peeking up at me. The other opened, and together they blinked away dazed confusion.

I smiled and kept rocking. The little girl’s eyelids heavied. She pulled her blanket up over her eyes, and returned to peaceful slumber.

I’ve done that before. I’ve believed, “If I can’t see the monster, it’s not really there!” And I have closed my mind to scary possibilities, believing if I shut my eyes and squeeze them tight, the danger disappears.

If I can’t see the monster, it’s not really there!

Obviously, in real danger, that way of thinking doesn’t work, but when it comes to writing for publication, it’s a downright good idea. Many times I’ve been on a roll, writing pages and pages and pages, when into my subconscious creeps a great big, ugly monster: Fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of acceptance. Fear of insignificance. Fear of importance. A dichotomy of desire and doubt that halts my progress and tempts me to hit DELETE.

Fear. In its grasp, a victim is paralyzed, bound by deception, held captive by miscues. Fear prohibits success.

So I close my eyes to the monster. Because you know what? It’s not really there! Fear is a perception. It’s an emotion. It’s a deceiver. It’s Satan’s trick to prevent me from accomplishing God’s goals. If I let fear scare me into quitting, I will make no impact on the world at all. I will not “go into all the world and make disciples” with my writing. I will not be a “good and faithful servant.” I will be serving the wrong master.

Next time that big, ugly Fear monster creeps up on you, do what I do. Go ahead and pull the wool up over your eyes!

Remember these words of the Lord and know there is nothing to fear:
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish (Isaiah 41:9-11, NIV).

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes…

February 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kathi Macias –

One of my all-time favorite shows was “Kids Say the Darndest Things” with host Art Linkletter. Art has long since gone on to his heavenly reward, but once in awhile I’ll see a rerun of an old program and realize how hilarious it was. Nothing was scripted, nothing rehearsed—just natural and spontaneous, which no one does better than kids.

I remember a time like that with one of my granddaughters. Brittney was four or five, and I took her with me to run some errands. On the way home I wanted to stop at the cemetery and leave some flowers on a relative’s grave. I decided it could be a good learning experience for Brittney, so we talked as we made our way to the gravesite.

“What are all those numbers under the names?” she asked, peering down at the headstones as we passed by.

“Those are the dates they were born and when they died,” I explained.

She thought about that for a minute, and I realized this was quite a challenge for someone her age. I decided to give her some examples.

“This lady,” I said, “was born in 1938 and died in 1989. That means she was 51 when she died.”

Her eyes grew wide, but she didn’t say anything. Quite obviously she concluded the woman was quite elderly.

I then pointed out one who had died quite young—in his twenties. She nodded and continued on.

Then we stopped to gaze at an ornate headstone that caught her eye. She tried to read the dates, but when I realized she was struggling, I intervened, explaining that the woman was 98 when she died.

Brittney’s head snapped up, her brown eyes nearly popped out of her head, and she said in a voice tinged with awe, “Wow, she was ready!”

After I quit laughing, I realized I’d been handed the teachable moment I’d hoped for and promptly used her comment to talk about “being ready” before we die.

And then, in August of this year, my 90-year-old mother went home to be with Jesus. Was she ready? Absolutely! Brittney, who is now almost 21, sat with many of her cousins at the memorial service to honor this matriarch of our family.

One of the little ones in attendance, Annabelle, was not quite four at the time. She’d been hearing statements to the effect that her great grandma was dead and wasn’t quite sure what that meant. But when she couldn’t find Grandma anywhere, she’d shrug and say, “Grandma’s dead,” as if that explained her absence.

As the hour-long service went on, with some of Mom’s favorite songs being sung, a video shown about heaven and “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me playing in the background, not to mention the favorite memories shared by many who loved her, I wondered what the youngest member of the family thought about all that was going on.

I didn’t have long to wonder. As the service came to a close and people gathered around to offer hugs and condolences, Annabelle ran up to us with her blue eyes shining and a smile spread across her face.

“Grandma’s not dead,” she announced, as if she’d just made the most wonderful discovery ever. “She’s in heaven!”

Whether Annabelle had figured it out on her own or with the help of the memorial service—or whether an angel had whispered it to her—she was right. And she had reminded each one of us of the great truth that if we’re truly “ready”—as I had explained to Brittney years earlier—our loved ones who go on before us are not dead at all. They are simply in heaven, worshiping the Savior who ensured their safe passage through the valley of death into the presence of the Father.

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