Alan Wildes

Alan Wildes

“I’ll have a Sprite”

A few weeks ago, after a very long trip, I was on my way home from the airport.  I was more than ready to be home but as is often the case Atlanta traffic was stalled due to an accident.  I had planned to eat lunch near home but decided to get out of the traffic near the airport and visit a Chick Fil A I have frequented.

As I am beginning my lunch I notice this guy walking through the parking lot headed to the entrance.  He had the look of someone who might be homeless as he had quite the array of personal belongings with him.  He was an older man with shoulder length white hair and a white beard almost as long as his hair.  The back of his bright royal blue t-shirt said “I survived Hurricane Katrina.  NOLA strong!”  The shirt made me wonder if he was homeless in Atlanta or just passing through. 

He found a booth and put his stuff down, rummaged through his backpack for what turned out to be a phone charger and then he was on a mission to find an outlet.  He spoke to a lady already eating but never really made eye contact.  He settled into his seat and began placing a few things from his bag onto the table and seemed to be settling in but I was unsure for what as he had not ordered anything.

I quickly realized he was just taking a rest.  I felt the nudge to buy him lunch.  I didn’t know whether to go and ask him but then thought that might be a little awkward.  So my plan was to get in line, order him a #1 and have the folks at Chik Fil A deliver it to him as I would already be out the door.  Seemed like a good plan to me.

So I get in line and am looking on my app to see if there is some free stuff I can give him as well and then I felt someone sidle up beside me.  Sure enough it was him.  You would think that would have caught me off guard but it was almost as if we had already discussed what I was going to do and he was coming up to me to tell me what he wanted.  There was an unexplainable ease about the situation.

I said “How ya doin?” 

He said “I’m ok.” No eye contact.

I said “You want something to eat?” 

He said “Yes.” 

“What would you like?” 

“I’m ok with whatever you order.” Still no eye contact.

“A #1?” 

“That sounds great.” 

“What do you want to drink?” 

“What?”  in an extremely surprised tone. No eye contact.

“What do you want to drink?” 

“Are you serious?” 

“Yes.  Pick what you want.  It’s your meal.” 

He finally looks up at me with some of the most crystal clear blue eyes I have ever seen and says “I’ll have a Sprite.  Thank you.” 

And then he goes back to his booth.  No more words.  It was as if I had been talking to a family member; just easy and quick conversation with no awkwardness at all.  I stood there in line and my mind was spinning.  “What just happened?!”  It was the easiest conversation with a complete stranger I have ever had.

I ordered his food, received his purple table marker, and walked and got some napkins, ketchup and a straw for him.  I took it to his table and told him they would bring him his food.  He again looked up at me with those eyes and said “thank you” with the most genuine sincerity ever.  I reached out to shake his hand and he gives me a fist bump.

That was it.   I walked out and got in my car.  I was still trying to process what just happened.

Two days later the sermon was on the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit works in everyday life.  I’m pretty confident my question was answered. 

I get so busy with my job, the calendar craziness, travel, agendas, paper work, family and the like that I can miss the generosity the Holy Spirit makes available to us each day if I’m not paying attention. 

I’m thankful that I did not miss it on this day. 

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Alan serves as Vice President of Generis, a company that exists to accelerate generosity toward the church's God-inspired vision.

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