The coronavirus brings out the best in us. Right?
Our patience oozes from every pore, contagious in a way, even to those standing six feet away in a grocery store line spaced out all the way to the freezer section.
Our smiles, though hidden behind various decorated cloths acting as virus defectors, are still there. I think. I can only assume the woman I passed down the pasta aisle was smiling and not mouthing bad words at me for not following the directional arrows taped to the floor.
But last night, at the local Chick-fil-a, I nearly lost it.
The curbside pickup went smoothly. I assume it always does. Chick-Fil-A is a model for efficiency in a day and age where it’s valued most.
But as is often the case at God’s chicken house on a weeknight at 6:15, the drive-thru line was madness.
I managed to back out of the curbside pickup space, and navigate my way to the back of the restaurant, only to find myself in…a line of cars.
Now, I don’t know exactly what this line of cars was intended for. My assumption is that they were all doing the same as I was: attempting to take sackfuls of heavenly nourishment home before devouring all the waffle fries in the bag.
The line crept slowly around the building. I found myself calm, knowing my daughter sitting beside me was relatively unaware of any line. (YouTube videos of kids playing with toys is an odd distraction.)
Getting around to the opposite side, I knew the exit to the main road was near. There I saw a young lady dressed in CFA garb and mask directing traffic as if a 747 was preparing to land right beside the sterilized-but-still-not-in-use playground.
Okay. Fine. There’s just a lot of people who love Chick-Fil-A and I just happened to come at the exact moment of peak chicken worship.
But as I waited in the line of hopeful exiters, a young punk (yes, I’m old enough to call a man 17–22 a punk) decided he would creep his obnoxious miniature vehicle alongside our line, forming his own rebellious third line of cars. I call this line the “Jerks Without a Conscience” line.
He slipped past my truck, past the SUV in front of me, and weaseled his way out the exit, off on the main road, no doubt to go to some seedy apartment to greedily eat his chicken in a dark, smoke-filled room. May his pickles be cursed.
In other moments, times I’m alone, I would possibly (probably?) have said out loud “What the firecracker are you doing?” to the guy, not directly, but also not with the word firecracker.
But remember, my daughter is sitting beside me. So no, I did a casual flip up of my hands, not high enough for anyone to see. And the same went for the middle-aged man and wife in their Mercedes who sneaked out soon after the punk kid.
With a deep sigh and unseemly flare of my nostrils, I let it go. What could I do? I saw the air traffic controller woman posing as a Chick-Fil-A employee give both line violators a quick look and then went on about her business, directing this car this way, that car that way, all with a grin behind her mask. Or was she mouthing the word firecracker too?
Yes, the coronavirus brings out the best in us. The finest of our virtues. Our gentleness, kindness, and patience.
Maybe when this all blows over we can keep the masks on and just assume we’re all smiling while secretly wishing the others would just stay in the line they’re supposed to stay in.
But the next time you’re craving that Chicken Sent from Above, think twice about when you go. And if you get in an exit-only line, slide your vehicle a bit to the right so nobody dares try creeping past you. And wear a mask. Drop all the firecrackers you want.
That’s free Chick-Fil-A advice from me to you. It’s my pleasure.