Spiritual Visions of Waffle Fries
A holy moment and an otherworldly shift
I had a spiritual vision of waffle potato fries.
I was sitting down at my Chick-fil-A restaurant, quietly typing and clicking away on my computer when a woman sitting in the next booth looked at me and her brows furrowed.
“Are you Tim Sweetman?”
I hesitated, but I was unfortunately wearing a name tag that day. There was no hiding the truth.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, feigning some confidence and a little swagger.
“You told me and my husband to never eat here again.”
My throat got stuck as I attempted to both swallow and respond.
“I never said anything like that!” I told her, incredulous that she would insinuate I would do such a thing.
“Oh yes you did. Let me read you the email!” She snapped back at me.
I told her I’d read the email — in fact, I wrote the email — so I knew what it said. Her husband had walked back to join her at the table and join in on throwing javelins of critique my way. I was outnumbered, so I retreated.
Like a coward.
My Hate Mail
There's a small feedback box by the entrance of my Chick-fil-A restaurant. It's small, gray, and a little hidden from sight.
It’s very rare, but I do receive hate mail in this box of feedback. The people who write it would not consider it hate mail, they would categorize it as “constructive feedback.”
I received one such handwritten note one day, with scribbled and slightly smeared black markings that told me I had “ruined their experience in my establishment” by not offering what they wanted. My team had been “less than helpful” and their fries were simply inedible.
“Signed, Glen and Cindy.”
Honestly? I laughed.
I took that note into my office, set it down gently on the desk, and fired up my computer. The note sat just in my eyesight as I began to type my response into the browser.
“Thank you for leaving me some feedback on your visit,” I began to write.
My letter-in-return was a dynamite stick disguised as a chocolate bar. The only problem is I was unaware I was tossing a bomb back. I wasn’t going to let this one go without having the final word — and I set them straight with my letter.
After my dining room confrontation with Glen and Cindy, I bustled my way into our kitchen, shaken and slightly out of breath. I felt my mind seize up in a panic, as if I had just realized I missed the most important exam of my life and was still laying in bed. I couldn’t identify all the feelings. They all ran through me like an electric jolt, leaving my hands shaky and my mouth dry.
But as I retreated into unoccupied territory, I caught a glimpse of something new. Another angle of the moment. I stopped and observed it.
It was a waffle potato fry.
The oil it had been dipped into for a few minutes now only remained in subterraneous ways, bubbling and crackling along the surface. The steam rose off the edges, and the scent was almost buttery.
Suddenly, I was transformed. It was as if I were floating above Glen and Cindy, seeing them sitting in my dining room stewing – and could feel their emotions bubbling inside.
I had to laugh, but their emotions were quite simple: they wanted hot food.
My stomach rumbled, and I witnessed for a moment their view of the steam rising off a hot fry. Nothing could satisfy that craving until the slightly rough edges were touching their fingers as they lifted in to taste the crisp, then the interior that was delicate and savory.
Then it vanished.
In front of me was a tray with cold, wilted, soft fries. I would never eat these, and I would never serve them. But there below me from my floating perch was Glen and Cindy, who spent their hard earned savings, frustrated and upset.
I took a deep, cold inhale. In an instant, I knew I was wrong. They were right. My vision of waffle fries ended as quickly as it had begun.
I cautiously walked back to their table and I pulled out the chair across from them and sat down.
“I’m sorry,” I told them. “Can you help me understand why you all are so frustrated about waffle fries?”
That first conversation was not easy. I am certain that I talked with the awkwardness of a middle school boy whose voice just cracked in front of the class, mixed with the unevenness of a conversation with someone who only knows part of your language. We rumbled down a cobblestone street of a conversation. But I was committed to keep pressing forward until we found even ground.
Once we finally shared our unique perspectives with grace and understanding, their stomachs and their hearts were won — and my mind had been changed.
The Interpretation of the Vision
I had discounted Glen and Cindy and saw two people sitting in my dining room who from my unique angle appeared to dislike me, wanted to hurt my business, and were the living versions of a frown.
We take for granted the “correct” look is the objective and scientific or straightforward perspective — usually our own. We are still looking on from the outside on the person who has been “inside,” who has felt pain, or love, or honor — they have felt and lived in a way we could never see without a vision.
When your position and angle changes, so does your perspective and understanding.
When I pulled up that chair to sit with Glen and Cindy, I finally stopped and listened for the first time. And when I heard them, they heard me. A debate about a way to prepare a waffle fry wasn’t going to destroy any of us.
There’s a holy moment and an otherworldly shift when you stop and pause for even a moment and look inside yourself at what is really going on.
The heavens may not open up and you may not hear archangels trumpets. It could just be a spiritual vision of a waffle fry.
Today, I consider Glen and Cindy friends. They are faithful, wonderful customers that I take so much joy in seeing almost every day. We laugh, we joke, and we share concerns together.
But I keep their old note on my desk, and I look at it often.
It is a physical reminder that pride can and will blind you, if you’re not careful. Making statements before asking questions will always lead you to broken relationships.
And most importantly: pausing for a moment to take a new look and go inside just might lead you to the restoration of relationships you never thought possible.
And that was my spiritual vision in the form of a waffle fry.
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