The man behind the counter was having a bad day. In fact, he was ready to quit. That very minute. I was in a convenience-type store, just picking up a few items, and I was behind a younger woman in the line. The woman had her four frozen pizzas and a bottle of wine. I am guessing the pizzas were for her kids and the bottle of wine for was after her kids were in bed. She was engaged in quite a long conversation on her cellular telephone. She talked on her phone, gesturing with one hand while holding the phone with the other, all while the man behind the counter was ringing her up (are you old enough to remember why this check-out routine is called “ringing up”?). After he had bagged her goods the woman swiped her debit card, picked up “dinner” and walked away, chatting away without missing a word in the conversation.
Now it was my turn, except that the man behind the counter was visibly angry and he was not taking up my goods. He said, “How can people be so rude? She didn’t even acknowledge that I was alive. Who does she think she is? I am ready to quit, right now. I mean it. I don’t have to put up with people like that.” Well, my wife, Jill, was waiting in the car, and I didn't want to have to find another store, so I tried to calm him down. “Well, maybe she had an emergency call.” “No,” he said, “ I could hear the whole conversation, just a lot of foolish talk.” And then came a bit of “street psychology” which caught my ear. The man behind the counter said, “They think they can ignore me because I am their inferior. They prove they are superior to me by not even looking at me. But, I know the truth; they are the inferior ones who need to act like they are so important on their phones that they can just ignore people like me.” I quickly processed this analysis, and in some weird way it made sense. Plus, I wanted to get checked out, so I quickly agreed with him. I joined him in bemoaning the fact that in our effort to be more and more “connected” we have in fact become a society of people that fail to connect at the most basic level. We don’t even see the man behind the counter anymore.
Before Jesus could heal the blind man he had to first see him. (John 9:1) To be a true servant of our neighbors we first need to see them. Some of used to sing, “We’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” (Peter Scholtes © 1966) Sadly, that tune went out of style, but it is more relevant than ever. Jesus saw each person as someone he loved, because he did love everyone. Do we? Well, a good way to start showing it is by truly seeing the man behind the counter.