whiteflowersandelephants


Sampling
January 30, 2012, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am a sampler at a local restaurant. To be a sampler, you must go to work early, make 10 sandwiches, cut them into thirds, and wrap them in tiny little papers. They are cute, baby sandwiches. If a certain kind of woman saw these baby sandwiches, she might feel the need to cradle it. That’s how cute my samples are.

I have a binder with a map of Waco on it. The map is divided into eight sectors. My job is to go, sector by sector, and give out free baby sandwiches to all the businesses. I am doing this so that everyone knows that we deliver grown up versions of my baby sandwiches. It is a fun job, most of the time. Imagine someone walking into your place of work, around 10:30, and saying, ‘I’ve brought you a free baby sandwich.’

I know, right?

I have learned about God, and my walk as His disciple while I have been a sampler. I think I could stare at a rock all day and learn about God and my walk as His disciple, just because He’s an informative God. In the beginning of my time as a sampler, I was making 15 or 16 sandwiches and carrying them around downtown, in the cold. The places I was sampling to were so close I was walking the whole time. I learned about evangelism through that experience. My bag was so heavy; I walked around with this burden to give everything I had away. Not for any reason, other than the weight of my burden. If I think about the good news this way, every place I go, every person I see becomes someone I can deposit this gift with, and they can share the heavy burden. I can’t begin to run fast until someone is carrying the weight with me. I liked that little lesson. Thanks God.

                                                         .      .     .

I learned another lesson this week. I was giving out samples in an area bespeckled with affluent businesses. I parked my car on a street where there were so many businesses that I was going to be walking door to door, rather than driving till I found a place, as is my usual custom. I was thinking, “I’ll be done so early! These six businesses will take everything I’ve got.” I went to the first door, a law office, I think. I walked in and to my right was the receptionist. I offered my usual cheerful, though scripted, greeting/pitch. She said, “Oh, no thanks.”

I would like to take a moment to describe my usual day as a sampler. I walk into an office, or hair salon, or senior center. I do my greeting/pitch. First the woman (as it is 90% women I meet first) may ask me to repeat what I said; her mind was otherwise occupied when I first walked in the door. I say it again. She repeats it. “You’re giving free sandwiches?” I say yes ma’am, with a charming smile. She either takes what I’ve got with a look of elementary school Christmas glee on her face, or immediately runs to the back to tell all her friends what miracle has occurred. Sometimes I’m stampeded by the entire workforce at the door. Sometimes I’m paraded around by this sweet receptionist as she repeats what I told her three times. “This young lady has sandwiches for free! She has ham and cheese, turkey,” she looks at me with worried eyes, to make sure she’s got this one right, “and cheese…and….avocado?” she looks back to the man behind the desk, “You want one Bob?!”

So, when this woman says, with an intonation leading you to believe I had offered to pick her toes for free, that she would not like a sandwich from me, I am a little confused. This isn’t totally unheard of; I get this from the receptionist about 7% of the time. New Year’s resolution to not eat bread, or something. So I ask, as I am want to ask, if anyone else in the office might care for one. She says no.

O…..K…… Guess I’ll leave then? Wow. No one would want a FREE sandwich at the time in the morning when your coffee wears off and you’re main focus is to not let your face slam onto the keyboard as you pass out like a narcoleptic? I’m shocked. Shocked I say!
I go next door. I offer my cheerful pitch, I am not phased! Same response. I’m a nasty bug trying to take away this woman’s dreams of losing .05 pounds today, or something. I ask if anyone else might like a sandwich. She asks the man with his back to me if he wants one. He says no, as well. And as I am turning to leave, wondering if I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone, he says, “Oh, well sense you’re here, yeah I GUESS I’ll take one.” His attitude in taking a free gift reminded me of the valley girl in that movie Valley Girl who says, “Gag me with a spoon.” Like, “Gag me with a spoon, ya gimmie that baby sandwich, gah.”

I wrote in my binder that I handed out one sandwich at that business. Looking at my sheet I see that every other slot I have is ‘4 sandwiches, 15 sandwiches, 9 sandwiches.’ On to the next place. “No, thanks.” (subtext, no we don’t want your sandwiches here you tiny sandwich creature) Next place, the door was locked. There were people inside, they just wouldn’t answer the door. Across the street, same thing. The door next to that, one guy in there. He didn’t want a sandwich but he would sell me a subscription to his newspaper. Next door, “No- we only eat at strange times of day, but I guess we’ll take a menu.”

I went to eleven businesses. The only sandwich I could give out was to the Valley Girl man. I remember I came up to a group of senior men who worked at a wood-carving place. They actually made fun of me. “Girl, you couldn’t GIVE those away, haha!” He was right. That’s ALL I wanted to do, and I couldn’t. Maybe people couldn’t hear me when I said free. Maybe they thought I was trying to sell them something. Maybe everyone on this street has boycotted bread. Maybe everyone on this street is really working for the CIA, or something equally secretive, and in their super secret code “Do you want free food?” means “Do you want to be relocated to Siberia?” I would say ‘no’ too.

The next place on the street is a clinic for the homeless. “Oh great. The nurses are going to say no and I’m going to be swarmed by people on my way out.” I went to the nurse’s desk, half frustrated by my continual rejection, and gave my pitch. She tells me they order all the time, and “Yeah, we’ll take nine.” Wow! Nine! I have 29 left to give out and she’ll take nine! FINALLY! A girl in the waiting room asks for 2, one for her and one for her brother. Why not? Her mom wants a menu. The nurse is calling the shelter next door, they always want free food. I’m thinking, I’m supposed to be marketing to people who might order from us. Something tells me the homeless aren’t going to be faithful business. Can I even do that? I look at the clock. I have to back at work by 11. Guess I’m going to the shelter. The girl in the lobby asks for another one. A disabled man walks in and says, “Whose got sandwiches?” It’s me, I’m the sandwich girl. He begins to lead me to the shelter. The girl asks for another one with unashamed face. She doesn’t even hide behind a fake brother this time. I smile at her and I say no. A tiny homeless woman asks if she can have one. Duh, get over here, sandwich away!

We walk to the shelter through a large group of homeless. The man has closed the box I carry so they don’t attack me. I am led to the back offices. I give my pitch. They don’t fully understand. I explain a couple of times. The response is, yeah we’ll take them, we’ll take them all. How many do you have? I have 15 left. They count the homeless in the shelter. There are 20 back there. There is obvious disappointment. They can’t give all but five a sandwich. They tell me to set the samples up in the break room, and the staff will get to them. The attitude is not, “Oh my goodness gracious, glory be, a sandwich!” It’s a very, “Thanks, we gotta move on,” kind of reception. But I feel so happy.

I went back to my car, through the gathering of the homeless outside. I sat, and looked at my clock- I have 15 minutes. I pulled out my journal and started to write about what I was feeling.

When I was rejected over and over, I didn’t feel personally rejected. But I knew how good my little baby sandwiches were. I knew how cute they were. I knew how much joy they could bring. And one after another, eleven businesses worth of people just said a flippant ‘No.’ No we don’t need that, no we don’t want that. They had enough. They had food. They had already eaten. They didn’t need anything from anyone. They said no to a free gift. And I was sad, because I had made them by hand. I had wrapped them myself. And as I was wrapping them, I was think about how excited the receptionist gets, and how happy it makes the hungry people who work in the offices all day. But when I got to them, they just rejected what I had made for them.

I can imagine an older woman getting home from work. She does the same thing every day. She doesn’t have much to report to her husband that he’ll understand because he doesn’t know the inner workings of the data entry program she spends her life with. But today she can tell him about the little girl with the pink ribbon in her pony tail who came and gave her a baby sandwich. The whole office stopped. It was a hoot! We talked about it for an hour afterward, what a funny thing to happen at work. The people who said no, missed out on some silly and meaningless blessing. Just something funny that could happen. Just a happy thing.

But blessed are the poor, and those who hunger and thirst. They will be filled. The poor are blessed. They know how to receive. The people that work with the homeless don’t make that much money. They don’t work in the posh offices that I had visited earlier. They go without for the joy and honor of being a help. And when I came to them, they said yes. They wouldn’t turn down a gift. And I was happy. Not because I had been accepted, but because someone was going to take the gifts I was carrying around. And the people in the waiting room, they will probably never call in and order from my restaurant, but I was so happy that they asked for food from me! I’m not going to gain from giving them a sample, but it doesn’t matter. Someone gets to hold my baby sandwich. They even told me how cute they were. And I was like, ‘FINALLY! I know, right?!’

Over at the shelter, the people there were glad to receive the gift, and sad there wasn’t more to spread around. They know how to receive, and to immediately give to those in need. I wanted to run back to the store and make a hundred more tiny baby sandwiches. We would all sit around together and talk about how cute they are, and then eat them all up, and not think about how strange that concept is.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. If anyone opens the door, He will come in and eat with him! All day long, He has gifts to give, He is holding them in His hands. And when we try to do it all ourselves, and ignore everything He has prepared for us, it makes Him so sad. When we take what He is offering and ask for more, it’s not presumptuous or greedy, that’s how a son acts. He offers peace. We say, “Yes thank You, I’ll take it all. And all your joy as well!”

We are sons, and He is giving gifts. We need to receive like the homeless. That’s what I learned sampling this week.

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