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Today I was in Walmart, waiting while my wife checked out her purchases.  It happened that a friend of ours was the greeter.  I watched her pass out some small gifts with a friendly word, dry the rain off the handles of carts just brought in, and give incoming shoppers a smiling welcome.  She is not young, and not in the best of health.  Standing for a three-hour shift is painful and difficult.  But the financial needs of her family have necessitated that she do this.

We had been chatting during a lull when something happened.  A man in dirty coveralls brushed past her through the exit doors, carrying a box.  "Just a moment, sir," she said, hurrying after him.  "I need to see your sales slip." He turned abruptly at the second set of doors.  Scowling at her, he threw the receipt to the ground and was gone.  As the wind tossed the paper here and there she snatched it up, giving me a weary look.  "Don't let the turkeys get you down," I said, trying to smile.  But it upset me, that little incident.  Angered me.  It made me wonder how many who serve us in stores, restaurants and other places of business have to endure such abuse.  Boorish rudeness and snarling complaints, hour after hour, day after day-often for a minimum wage.  Who needs it?  Well, I guess they do, or they would not be there.  And the company says, "Smile!  Be helpful.  The customer is always right."

As I write this, the Christmas shopping season is heating up.  Stores are . . .

Today I was in Walmart, waiting while my wife checked out her purchases.  It happened that a friend of ours was the greeter.  I watched her pass out some small gifts with a friendly word, dry the rain off the handles of carts just brought in, and give incoming shoppers a smiling welcome.  She is not young, and not in the best of health.  Standing for a three-hour shift is painful and difficult.  But the financial needs of her family have necessitated that she do this.

We had been chatting during a lull when something happened.  A man in dirty coveralls brushed past her through the exit doors, carrying a box.  "Just a moment, sir," she said, hurrying after him.  "I need to see your sales slip." He turned abruptly at the second set of doors.  Scowling at her, he threw the receipt to the ground and was gone.  As the wind tossed the paper here and there she snatched it up, giving me a weary look.  "Don't let the turkeys get you down," I said, trying to smile.  But it upset me, that little incident.  Angered me.  It made me wonder how many who serve us in stores, restaurants and other places of business have to endure such abuse.  Boorish rudeness and snarling complaints, hour after hour, day after day-often for a minimum wage.  Who needs it?  Well, I guess they do, or they would not be there.  And the company says, "Smile!  Be helpful.  The customer is always right."

As I write this, the Christmas shopping season is heating up.  Stores are buzzing.  People are in a hurry, impatient to find what they need and heading home through traffic clogged streets.  It is all too easy to go with the flow.  But where is the true spirit of the season?

Whatever happened to "good will toward men"?  As Christians we should not only be different, but seek to make a difference.  Kindness and courtesy may at times be in short supply, but surely not from us.  The Bible says, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all" (Gal.  6:10).

With that in mind, I have a suggestion or two.  What about making our "thank you's" to those who serve us something more than perfunctory?  "Thank you very much Carol [from her name tag].  I appreciate your help.  God bless." Or what about observing someone who is serving others and going over to offer a word of praise?  "You're doing a great job.  I'm sure it's appreciated." Or what about seeing a mother struggling with a half dozen packages and two small children and saying, "Can I give you a hand?" and opening that car door for her?  Often, it only takes a moment or two to smile and offer a kindly word.  And "love...is kind" (I Cor.  13:4).  It can brighten someone's day and make the burden lighter.

Beyond the tinsel and the coloured lights, the Christ of Christmas will be far better served by carrying His love into the market places of the world.

Rev. Bob Cottrill
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