Empathy at Biggby’s

So I’m sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my kids to get done with a play rehearsal and I can hardly believe my ears.

One of the Biggby Coffee employees is on her knees not twenty feet from me cleaning up the floor and wiping down one of the lime/pea-soup-colored retro chairs. She’s chatting with the woman behind the counter from her vantage point on the floor.

“I saw a mom over here with a little one earlier, and I felt so bad for her!” That got my attention. Remember, this whole monologue is punctuated with the movement of a wet rag and broom, and delivered from one of the least dignified postures we know.

She continues:

“When the mom left, I came over here to clean up, and there was coffee all over the chair, and colorful sprinkles ground into the floor, and donut crumbs all over. I can only image that she was just trying to have a quiet cup of coffee, and her kid was bouncing around, and making her spill her coffee, and making a mess. I felt so bad for her! I hope her day went better after that!”

Now, wait a minute.

This worker is on her hands and knees cleaning up the mess some insensitive and inattentive parent let their demon-spawn of a 2-year-old make in a public place, and she turns around and exercises empathy??

Where’s the cussing? Where’s the “woe is me?” Where’s the personal offense at someone else being so insensitive and making my job harder than it has to be?

Who does she think she is? Jesus?

And that’s what made me think of another scene. And another Someone who was in one of the least dignified postures we know, as on His knees he washed the dirt off of my feet. He knows my mess; and He know it’s my fault. I certainly didn’t make it easy for Him.

Yet, rather than the self-righteous anger I might have expected, He shows love instead. And then, from a yet more humiliating position, His words betray no trace of self-importance or bitterness, as He says, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

Heading off to pick up my kids, all the spilled coffee and ground sprinkles in my life seem somehow insignificant. I might be a little faster to empathize; a little slower to blame; maybe less likely to take personal offense at someone else’s bad day. At least, I hope I am.

How could you not leave changed, when you encounter Jesus at Biggby’s?

About Justin Rossow

Justin writes and talks at the intersection of Scripture, culture, and metaphor theory. As founder of Next Step Press, he helps people delight in taking a next step following Jesus.

3 comments on “Empathy at Biggby’s

  1. Ah, by the grace of God did you hear that exchange!! Praise Him for reminding you and for the worker to be humble!!

  2. It really was amazing that I “just happened” to be sitting where I could hear the exchange! It definitely didn’t head in the direction I expected!

  3. Thanks for Inspiring us with this amazing account, Pastor Justin. Biggby’s dear employee had no clue she was changing hundreds of people’s hearts with her servant’s attitude! I hope she will one day read this narrative…and be humbled and touched one more time with the Wisdom of God!

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