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.