On our first night, I waited over an hour and a half for my whopper junior. I felt so bad for the guy taking my order, I almost tipped him. I just wasn’t quite sure how to do that at a fast food joint.
Ever since then, we’ve made it a point to ditch the conference sessions just a few minutes early. The guys and I ran to one of the handful of cheap restaurants within a half a mile of the Kansas City Convention Center for each meal.
I’d have loved to eat better and I usually do, but what are you going to do? My thinking was dominated by economics. Four days without access to a grocery store is expensive. Tonight, I had hoped that the little bit of my lunch that I had saved for dinner would be enough, but by 9pm, the leftovers were clearly no longer cutting it. Somewhere in the middle of an evening talk, I peeled off in search of food.
So I walked back to Burger King.
It was a long line, but not nearly as a bad as the first night. Before anything even went wrong, the people in front of me and I talked about BK’s hardworking staff. I think the same group was working each of the three times I’d been there in the last four days. Despite these hours, the manager was still all smiley and talked to a group at the register about how much money she had made during the conference, but she also said that the crowds were overwhelming. I felt for the exhausted woman.
Then the computer went out. I mean totally out. The register was broken. She pushed buttons, coaxed it, tapped it, did everything she could to get it going. A minute later, the manager jumped up, and gave everyone in line free ice cream and soda. When the machine didn’t come back to life, they locked the doors and gave us all a free dinner.
I’m might be still be a student, but I’m by no means destitute. I could have afforded the $4 whopper junior meal, but not getting turned away when they could no longer sell us food lifted the exhaustion that weights you down at the end of a four a day conference. The staff’s attitudes weren’t just coping, they were thriving and positive.
So here’s to a holiday spirit that doesn’t end on Christmas. I tried to thank the BK staff, but I think they were moving too quickly to even hear me.
Before any of this, I kept thinking that 25,000 young people attending a Christian conference and infiltrating all the fast food restaurants downtown Kansas City is a lot. I had hoped that the conference participants would bless the socks right off the restaurant staffs’ feet instead of wearing all the people out.
I don’t know if that happened, but I do know that the midnight worship set I missed at the conference was worth skipping. The blessing I just received tops it.
Happy New Year.