Your Way, Right Away: The High Cost of Entitlement

The “it’s all about me” mentality is hard to fight in a society like ours. We’re inundated daily with jargon, slogans, advertisements, spiritual, and philosophical statements confirming this mindset. “Just for You” – Safeway. “Every different person has a different plan”—Maxis. “It’s your world; take control”—AMX. “Your world, delivered”—AT&T.

Nearly every commodity is personalized. “Your Way, Right Away,” the Burger King slogan, reveals how deeply embedded selfishness is in western culture. Your way. No matter what? Right away. No matter the cost? What’s the price of living this out in our daily lives?

Recently at Sea-Tac airport, I observed a very disturbing situation. Being a fan of wide-margins in life, I always go to the airport with plenty of time. So with all this free time, I made the choice to stand and wait patiently in an excruciatingly long Starbucks linefor a latte. In front of me, a middle-aged man repeatedly checked his watch and tapped his foot. The line moved two feet. He made loud obnoxious sighs. His body language oozed frustration. We moved six inches. The line was compacting, it wasn’t actually moving. His sighing became mumbling, turning into a slew of colorful words. He crunched his knuckles and popped an anxiety pill.

“This *expletive* line! Taking so *expletive* long! I’m going to miss my flight! *Expletive* Barista—taking her sweet time—as if none of us are in a hurry!” (He said loud enough for the barista to notice, which she did.) He glanced at me for an empathetic nod. I shrugged wondering who had the gun to his head making him get a latte!? Wasn’t this a . . . choice? He kept checking his boarding pass and comparing it to the hands on his watch. “This is an outrage!” With a final profanity, pill, and knuckle crunch he yanked his oversized “carry-on” out of the line, purposefully jarring people around him and aimed for N-2. He would just have to settle for the on-board coffee service—an outrage indeed.

Entitlement. Individualism at its worst. His way? A Venti Carmel Macchiatto before his flight. Right away? You bet your ass. At the cost of the peace of those around him. At the cost of the barista’s well-being. At the cost of his own well-being.

We may think we’re never like this. But have you expressed your frustration at a slow moving grocery line before? Have you been curt to a barista when you FINALLY get to place your order after an excruciating 10-minute wait? Have you cussed out the cars around you on your morning commute? Cursed your slow smart phone as it does 18 things you just asked it to in under 1 minute? I know I have. Maybe you don’t swear, but what’s your body language saying?

Yesterday I was “starving” because I didn’t have my lunch and decided to swing through a coffee shop drive-thru. Even though there was only one car in front of me, it took 10 minutes before I moved, and a car had come up behind me so I was stuck. My blood pressure rose. I checked my watch, my baby cried, I felt more and more indignant. “What is this woman doing!? Ordering 20 drinks? What kind of dim-witted barista is this!? Good God!”And then felt the sharp and fatherly conviction of the Holy Spirit. I let out a deep sigh, said a quick prayer of repentance, and then moved up to the window.

I smiled and asked, “Rough customer?” Turns out the Barista was brand-new, and every other employee had called in sick. The person in front of me had ordered 6 paninis and numerous drinks. We talked for a few moments, and I tipped her. As I left she said, “Thank you for being so nice, it’s not normal in this business.”

I felt sad. If only she’d seen the raging maniac I was moments ago. I’m thankful she met the right Rebecca. And I felt sad that it wasn’t “normal” to be nice.

I’m trying to remember the basics lately:

I’m responsible for my punctuality.
I’m not entitled to a commute that’s short, a line that’s fast, or service that’s perfect.
Be generous with grace
Do unto others as you’d have them to do you.

Because after all, love is patient. Love is kind. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres . . .

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