Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uncle Ernie at Uncle Harry's

I don't want to come off as an
Uncle Ernie (my generation will pick up the reference)
at Uncle Harry's..

But when the young female employee of Uncle Harry's leaned back in the couch-chair uncomfortably next to me
and cascaded her hair to within inches of my arm..

(don't worry, this is NOT a photo I took of her, but a pic I googled up for this post so you can imagine the scene with me!)

a few thoughts hit me.

One, "what's up with this...she is breaking so many rules about personal-private space."

Or was she?

I was at Uncle Harry's... local bagelry/coffee shop; waiting on Keltic Ken from our ekklesia-thing. So I sat down in the corner in one of two overstuffed chairs around a small round table; obviously a table for two.

I set my water bottle and a book on the table stategically in front of the other chair;
and noted there was also a newspaper on the chair.

It was obvious to me I was saving the seat.

But not to Charity (not her real name).

To my surprise, without even acknowledging me (I was reading...of course), she simply moved the newspaper and sprawled out to relax a bit.

I didn't bother to tell her the seat was saved;

..But in a few minutes I was almost wondering if I was.

I had been praying about opportunities to talk to people in the marketplace and coffee shops;
truly wanting to meet and accept people where they are...

..but not often taking the initiative to actually do it.

I simply prayed and wondered what was up.

When I told this story to our Thursday afternoon group, a sister was convinced the young lady was flirting with me.

I don't believe it..and besides, I am old guy!

Another sister in her twenties agreed with me...a bit too readily(:

But she got the point that Creps has made well about the younger/postmodern natives:

They have completely different culture and worldview about private/public space.

Especially regarding cell phones, which is what she pulled out next..

And left a message with her name, number, and personal details about her life for the voicemail she got.

I felt a little embarrassed.

She did not.

I do not even know that she knew I was there..

..even though her hair was now almost in my face, and I felt like a stalker.

In my day, that would have definitely have been a come-on.
Even in the zero percent chance that it was (see "Sexual energy drives the engines at church")...

I was praying that if I was called to say something to her before this was all over:

"Hi, The Lord told me your name is _____, and your phone number is ______, and...."


More likely something inocuous and pre-evangelistic like:

"How do you enjoy working here?"


"You pagan dork, can't you tell I am saving that seat? Besides, I now know your phone number and will crank-call you!"


But I also

realized that she was taking a break from work in her workspace instead of the back room.
That, too, is typical of the new generations..especially if they work in a Third Place.
We would have never done that at Sambo's back in the day; huge separation of work and break.

She even called out help to customers who were looking for cups while she was on the cell phone talking about..


the vignette was a reminder to me that I really was called to bless and minister in this type of setting, not just blog about it.

I might have said something to her, but just then my bud came in, and she got up to get back to work..

And i am back to work, knowing I must press on in "planting my bench outside the box," living missiomally, making myself missionally available with a ready compassion to real people and real places..

Even if "all I do" is pray..
(and talk to strange people at Jack in the Box)

I have been praying for you, Charity.

..or praying to pray for you.

Maybe Ken and I will just set up a bench outside my house and offer free coffee..

There is good biblical precedent for going after sheep/goats and not waiting for them to come to us, so we can get their butts in a pew.


  1. This was awesome.. I really like your "Got Service" clip, this is a total reminder... thanks for your thoughts!

  2. One of my favorite books is the Stinky Cheese Man. One of the stories in it ends with one of my all time favorite lines -

    "Sometimes an ugly duckling grows up to be just a really ugly duck".

    The point is, sometimes what something appears to be is actually what it is.

    If she was flirting with you, enjoy it, be flattered by it. I can say this because I'm far less good looking than you and it actually happens to me on occasion but I'll absolutely never do anything about it. On the other hand it does make you feel not like your somewhere near 1/2 a century old.

  3. Jeff. you flatter me..but you be the stud.

    And you may forget I started college at an older age than you..which means (don't tell) i have beat you to the century mark.

    Thanks for the great quote. It will preach


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!