August 24, 2012

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

What happened when I decided to ‘Eat Mor Chiken’

Debra TomaselliOne night, when I stopped at a fast-food restaurant for dinner, I was served something more than a meal.

You probably heard about Chick-fil-A’s recent Appreciation Day. The event, prompted by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, was in response to the uproar created when the chain’s owner, Dan Cathy, said in an interview that he believed in “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Advocates of same-sex marriage, enraged by his comments, called for a boycott of the fast-food chain.

Alternately, Huckabee suggested that supporters of the Christian-run business show their backing by simply purchasing a meal that day.

I wasn’t going to participate. I didn’t want to be dragged into a mob scene or deal with protestors. I just wanted to go home and relax. But as I left my office that night, I couldn’t resist the nagging inner voice directing me to the nearest Chick-fil-A restaurant. I’m no political activist, but I knew I had to quietly take my stand.

The place was crammed when I arrived. As I waited in the drive-thru lane, I observed the restaurant’s patrons.

Inside, I noticed a young family offer their table to an older couple. A grandmother carrying a bushy haired toddler smiled as an employee waved her toward available seating. A teenager laughed as he carried food trays for his younger siblings.

The parking lot, filled to capacity, remained in motion. A big red Ford hovered while a green Toyota backed out. It seemed that spaces became available as needed. A little silver Honda paused to let a black Chevrolet pull in.

Nobody argued. Nobody honked their horns. Nobody fought over parking spaces.

Finally, after making my way around the drive-thru lane, I accepted my order from a cheerful employee and started to drive away when I noticed a small family, dressed in worn yet clean clothes, leaving the restaurant. Each person carried a little white food sack as though it were a treasure. As they approached their old sedan, they waited for each other before unlocking the doors and getting in.

Their kindness brought it all together for me.

Suddenly, I realized the tempo of gentleness, kindheartedness and thoughtfulness surrounding me. It was like watching a silent movie where all the actions depict the best of humanity.

I devoured half of my chicken strips before arriving home. I’m glad I went. I never saw a protester, never got out of my vehicle, never spoke, except to order, but I believe somewhere, somehow, my voice was heard.

More importantly, I witnessed something of the love of God.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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