It was one of those unexpected encounters on an ordinary, uneventful morning.
I took my oldest granddaughter to a southern landmark restaurant for breakfast when I was in Atlanta visiting family and friends. It was a no-frills, down-home, country-cooking, everything-is-better-with-bacon-biscuits-and-butter kind of place. The blackened, aged grill was sizzling with eggs, bacon, ham, and sausage, and was in full view as we walked in the door. It was as if we’d walked right into the midst of all the kitchen action. We couldn’t wait to have what was cooking. The coffee pots were constantly being filled up and poured out. Everything was humming to the tune of being well organized by experienced people who knew the daily routine.
All the customers seemed to fit in together―from overalls to suits, country to city, young to old―as they sat up at the counter or in one of the booths that lined the windows. In the small restaurant, space was limited, but friendliness and southern hospitality overflowed from the waitresses to the cooks. (And, by the way, all the regular customers knew them by name.) “Come on in and have a seat,” someone said from behind the counter.
Within a matter of seconds, a server appeared at our booth with a brimming pot of coffee in hand. I quickly glanced at her name tag, then took a second look. “Amazing Crystal” stood out in big, bold print. The clip-on gold stars that designate years of service covered the name tag around her name. I loved her boldness and confidence in describing herself, and immediately liked this woman.
I looked at her and smiled as I repeated her name. “Amazing Crystal?”
“Yes, I try to be amazing every day,” she said proudly. Her big welcoming smile embraced us, but, behind the makeup and mascara, her eyes looked tired and her face reflected years of stress.
Crystal went on to say how she believes in treating her customers with kindness, takes time to listen and interact, and gives them her best service no matter how busy she becomes.
“People need positive, caring people in their life. There’s plenty of negative people who can pull you down,” she said. I sensed she had experienced her share of negative people and was determined not to be one of them.
My granddaughter and I savored each bite of our delicious hot breakfast as Crystal checked in on us and anticipated our every need―always with a kind word and a smile. I watched her go to each table interacting with those she knew and making new friends of strangers. People who came in without smiling, perhaps because of a heaviness of heart, would leave with a smile and a wave. “Do come back to see us,” she would say.
Like Crystal, I want to try to be amazing every day.
She was a gentle reminder to me of how little it takes and how simple it is to be amazing. It’s not always about doing big things and it’s certainly not complicated. It’s about being nice, being kind, taking time to listen, smile, and be positive―even when you don’t always feel like it. And, being amazing can be contagious. It’s a lot like spreading joy and being a light in someone’s darkness who just might desperately need to feel the love of Jesus through amazing you.
I will go back to that restaurant again when I’m in Atlanta, and I’m sure Crystal will greet me warmly and treat me like we are old friends. I can hardly wait.
Let every detail in your lives―words, actions, whatever―be done in the name of Jesus.… (Colossians 3:17, The Message)