A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Holy frijoles

A late lunch today found me at Taco Bell on Patrick Street at its hour of peak activity. There was only one cashier working, which means whoever made the schedule somehow forgot about this busy stretch of time, or somebody called in sick leaving the other employees in a lurch. When you're running a cash register — and I know this from experience — a good rule of thumb is to keep the herd moving along the best you can. And despite flying solo, the cashier here was doing a smashingly efficient job at that.

So my turn came up, I placed my order, funds were exchanged. At the conclusion of our transaction, the cashier said to me: "Have a blessed day." Um... ok.

I've been trying to figure that phrase out. Was this a request she was making of me, like it's something I have complete control over? I mean, if I wanted to, is it really that simple — just make it happen? And if that's not the case, what exactly was she getting at?

Is it safe for me to conclude she intended this in a religious context? Was there some mysterious force at work at Taco Bell today, maybe a miracle of tortillas and carne asada going on in the back — maybe water being turned into carbonated beverages by processes I could never fathom?

I didn't really pay attention before, but I probably should have afterwards, to see if everyone else was met with this same request. Perhaps it was just me, the scruffy-looking guy in the Hawaiian shirt, who looked like he needed some kind of blessing bestowed upon him, even of the self-induced variety. I will add for the record that some of the other patrons were much scruffier in appearance than I and probably genuinely could have used it.

And how does one respond to that? I'm not a religious person. This person — without qualms — can essentially profess to me a faith and system of belief which doesn't interest me at all. In fact, I have nothing to offer there which doesn't offend. And it's generally not a good idea to offend someone taking your order at Taco Bell.

There is a subtle injustice here, as those without belief are often looked upon with a certain disdain by those who subscribe to religion. In fact, in many cases, those who merely believe differently are looked upon in the same way. It's always been my understanding that religion taught tolerance and respect. I don't think the cashier at Taco Bell was disrespectful to me, but I think if I'd told her I didn't believe in that kind of thing, I probably would have gotten an earful. That seems unfair, and I think completely misses the point religion is supposed to provide.

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