Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Watch Out For those Christians”

AdventureMan and I knowingly make bad choices every now an then, and Chow Time is one of them. We haven’t been for months, ever since the nearby Mediterranean Plus shut its doors because of the competition from Chow Time, it broke our hearts. But today, AdventureMan just had a hankering for Chow Time, and it’s fresh oyster day, so we went.

We had hit the early service at our church, 0800, so we had been home, changed, AdventureMan hit the garden and I hit the Christmas decor, taking it all down, which I do superstitiously since my Chinese friend told me the way I come into the new year is the way I will spend my new year, so you need to have everything done, EVERYTHING, so that your new year will be prosperous and easy and not full of tasks left undone. You have to have your bills all paid and money in your pocket and a clean clean and organized house.

Oh aaarrgh. It’s a lot of pressure to get it all done by New Year’s Eve. But we had accomplished a lot by noonish, and AdventureMan was hungry – STARVING! I like Chow Time, too, because you can have whatever you want, in the amount you want it. I like tiny bites of bad things, and I try to make myself focus on eating good things.

So I am thinking about my strategy when I see an older woman with a walker, the kind with a seat in it, so she has her plate on the seat and she is very carefully and sedately making her way along the buffet stations, but there are well-dressed crowds of people politely pushing in front of her, all around her. These are no-make-up, long skirt, long hair kinds of people, and they are all sitting together in very nice clothes at several tables in one area, and unbidden, the thought comes to me “Oh! Watch out for those Christians!”

And then I have to laugh, because of course, I am one of THEM. We all think we are so good in our own way, but don’t get between these Christians and the buffet, or, even if you are elderly and pushing your plate on a walker, you might get run-over by these good Christian folk!

I am telling you this, knowing that I have my own weakness. I can be perfectly polite at a buffet, I can patiently allow others to push in front, or rush to get all the crab legs – I’m not going to starve. I think of our Kuwaiti friend who would jokingly tell his wife “have you never seen food before?” He told us it was something Kuwaiti parents would say to their children, teaching them to be polite.

My weakness is airports, airplanes, air travel. Partly it comes from growing up in Europe, where even if seats were assigned, everyone just rushed on the plane and sat where they wanted. It was hilarious, but if you are from a culture where people think seat assignment means something, it is also kind of frustrating. If you didn’t edge your way onto the plane, you got a rotten seat, like the middle seat, where you have to sit stiffly so your shoulders don’t bump someone else’s.

These days it is even worse. Even if you have an assigned seat, with all the people afraid to pay a baggage charge, they are heaving these hefty bags on board, and overhead space is first-come, first served. Those late on the plane have difficulty finding a place in the overhead bins.

So here is the dilemma. Not even a dilemma, we all KNOW what the right answer is. Do you politely let others go ahead? Do we courteously allow those who are disabled, or accompanied by young children, or having trouble walking, do we courteously allow them to board first, with no grumbling?

I still remember being Platinum, getting to board first, getting frequent upgrades, getting all the perks . . . being treated “special.” It’s kind of addictive, being treated as if you are special.

I contrast that with what we KNOW to be true, that the first will be last, and that those who serve others, who wait upon others, who allow others to be preferred – those are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of heaven.

So as I sit in our little booth at Chow Time, I wonder if I show the face of Christ by my behavior, and I cringe a little at all the instincts in me that still want to be first. Even if I step back and allow the lady with the walker to go ahead, I still have my failures in other areas of my life, areas where I step up rather than step back. Food for a new year’s resolution . . . .

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December 30, 2012 - Posted by | Aging, Civility, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Social Issues, Spiritual

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