I’m having a solo lunch at Chili’s on Monday, my day off. My server is an attractive z-gen female who wants to talk. Her bright eyes easily engage mine.
Me? I am a grandfatherly figure with my cane hung behind me on my chair and my suspenders unfashionably holding up my black pants. She tells me she’s a college student finishing her third year in computer programming. She’s excited about it. Only one year to go!
She lingers after I place my order. “What did you do before you retired?” she asks.
“A priest? You don’t look like a priest.” I wondered what she thought a priest looked like. She pauses and says:
“Why did you become a priest?”
I thought: “O.K. I’ll give her my elevator speech.”* My life wrapped up in thirty seconds.
“My family went to church every Sunday. I was about fourteen and was in church with my family listening to the pastor give a sermon. He was quoting Jesus Who said, “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” At that moment, I was ready for the road of perfection even though I did not know what to be perfect meant. I simply heard in my heart Jesus calling me to holiness and to helping people. So after high school, I entered a seminary where I thought I could become holy and also help people. I still want to.”
From the first to the eighteenth floor in about thirty-five seconds.
She gathered the soiled breakfast plates, thanked me, and placed the bill on the table. I noticed she’d written something at the bottom of it: a smiley face and the words “Go for it!” Sandy.
*Elevator speech: You enter an elevator. You strike up a conversation with the person next to you who for some reason asks you what you do for a living. After he/she leaves, you’ll probably never see that person again. So, you make your answer short and sweet.