I live in a three convenience store town.
There’s the one toward the park and the one toward the highway and the one toward the prison. That’s the one I go to. It’s on the other side of the street about half a block down, across from the veterans memorial.
It’s the humblest of the three. The other two are part of a chain and they sell American gas and you see a lot of people stop in there. The one by us doesn’t really have a name, and it used to sell Venezuelan gas until that went out of style. It gets some tourist traffic, you see a lot of Ontario plates there, but mostly it’s locals, and a lot of it is scratch-offs and beer, and nicotine in one form or another.
I used to stop in once or twice a week, early in the morning, to get gas and pick up a Gatorade for the road. When the inflation came, I started getting most of my gas at Costco in the city, to save money, though I still get the occasional Gatorade or late-night gallon of milk.
There are three people who work there mostly. Two ladies and a guy. The ladies talk loud and laugh freely and seem to cover most of the shifts. At least most of the shifts when I’m apt to be a customer. The guy is younger, and he’s the one I want to talk about.
He’s probably in his mid-20s, about 5-10 or six foot, pleasant.
And every time you go in there, after you pay, as the transaction is done, he says, “God bless you.”
Not like you sneezed, but like he cares. Intentionally, sincerely, looking you in the eye. “God bless you.”
And you’re out the door, cracking open the Gatorade, or working on the scratch-off, or hefting your 12-pack.
It’s odd in a way because while that is not an unusual phrase, with that guy in that store it is an unusual experience. In a good way. It’s like he really means it.
Because he probably does.
That’s what it feels like.
Some anonymous guy at the no-name convenience store on the road to the prison.
Dozens of people in the course of a day, hundreds or thousands in the course of a week, everybody through the door when the guy is working who covers when the two ladies have off.
God bless you.
A spirit boost, a moment of connection, sincere kindness.
And over time, people have noticed. He’s the God-bless-you guy. That’s what they call him, in their minds or in conversations with others. One small phrase, one big impression.
And that’s probably not an accident. That’s probably a choice. It might even be a ministry.
One guy, living one life, finding a way to serve, at the counter of a convenience store, lifting the spirits and touching the hearts of strangers and friends.
It’s also a testimony of sorts, a bearing of witness, a declaration that there is a God, that he can bless your life, and that this young man is praying those blessings upon you. It is a statement of faith, concern, and brotherhood. It is a demonstration of obedience to the two great commandments – to love God and your neighbor.
That’s what happens in that half a moment when your transaction is complete and you begin to step toward the door. And it happens because some young convenience-store clerk makes it happen, with a simple, deliberate phrase.
Which makes you wonder: What could you make happen?
In your life, with its responsibilities, where is your opportunity to serve? If we are commanded to let our light shine, and to love our neighbor, and to be our brother’s keeper, how can we do it? How can we show our faith and love, how can we let it define us and people’s interactions with us? How can we leave people better for having had contact with us?
In-person, online, in business, at home, as we walk through life, where are our opportunities to be the light of the world? In a society with much darkness and distance, where some see no God and feel no brotherhood, how do you stand as a witness to both?
The young guy at the convenience store on the road to the prison has figured that out.
Now it’s your turn.