Chick-Fil-A is kind of like my second home.
Not that anything is wrong with my first home. In fact, I really love it.
(Though I will admit the food is better at Chick-Fil-A.)
For years now it has been a hub of activity and primary lunch option when hanging out with friends. I’ve got a Rolodex full of memories that involve countless hours spent laughing over a tray of waffle fries at belly busting stories, connecting with new and old friends, and generally discussing life (girls) and its (their) often frustrating intricacies.
I was sitting down with my friend Ryan one Tuesday, full cup of sweet tea in hand, at our favorite chicken restaurant—as we have every Tuesday for the past couple years—discussing how I could use some extra cash. I had started a new relationship a couple months prior and the Suntrust savings well was running dry quicker than you could say, “same check, please.”
Immediately as I finished explaining my financial situation to Ryan, a manager (who had been behind the counter during our money conversation) took a seat at our booth and unknowingly presented a most relevant question.
“Do either of you need a job?” She asked.
7 days later I was signing a W-4 in a freshly pressed Chick-Fil-A uniform.
I had never worked an hourly food-service job before, but figured it couldn’t be too hard. Take money, give food. That’s it. What could go wrong?
But I found a way to mess it up.
Actually, I found every way to mess it up.
And every time I messed up I’d have to bring my manager over, admit to him/her my mistake, and stand to the side with my tail between my legs as they resolved the issue I had created. It was a mess.
I was collecting the disapproving stares of my superiors like candy on Halloween.
A short sampling of errors:
Forgot to give multiple customers change.
Forgot to take payment from a few lucky drivers.
Served customers the wrong food.
Referred to one woman as, “Sir.”
Referred to a few men as, “Ma’am.”
Forgot straws, sauces and dressings. A lot.
Spilled drinks on the floor.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
The evening drive through was a particularly ugly monster, inviting a persistent horde of hangry (yes, hangry) college students through the line looking to fuel up (pre-game) for a night of whatever college kids do.
In the hustle of my first night at the position, my hand collided with a plastic spoon container during the rush hour. With a customer waiting, I didn’t check the injured finger before serving her a salad. Which turned out to be a mistake.
A big mistake.
Minutes later my finger sported a freshly applied band-aid while my manager consoled an angry customer holding a blood-splattered salad bag in her fist.
“I’m definitely fired,” Was the last thought I remember crossing my mind.
There’s a lot to be said for starting.
Starting projects, starting new jobs, starting relationships.
And not all starts go too well.
If you’re like me, most of them don’t go as planned.
Good news is, rocky starts aren’t the end of the world.
They may set you back.
They may create some issues.
But you can recover from them.
You know the person hardest to deal with after a rocky start? Me.
There’s some voice in my head that likes to argue against ever trying again,
“Well, better cut your losses. Probably just not going to make it.”
“Quit before you look like an even bigger fool.”
“Why bother? It’s not going to be any better the second time.”
What a load of crap.
God offers us an incredible amount of grace, more than I can ever understand. There’s all sorts of room to mess up, experiment, and learn. Yet I criticize myself hardest for failing, as if I’ve ruined any chance at success forever.
Second chances are as abundant as you choose give them to yourself.
Somehow, against the better judgement of my supervisors, I was allowed to stick around and my mistakes became fewer over time. I came to really enjoy working the drive through and felt pretty darn proficient by the end of the semester.
Sure, I botched the first week, but who cares?
A rocky start isn’t the end of the world.
(And if you bleed on someone’s salad, it’s going to be okay. I promise.)