The Tale of the $15 Big Mac

I love a good road trip! Load up the family, fill the SUV with a bunch of stuff you don’t

Thatcher Push Pop
Nicole has a family tradition on road trips. At every pit stop, you buy treats! Candy, soda…candy, pork rinds (if you’re my brother Allen). Thatcher is showing off his Push Pop, completely unaware that I should be greatly offended.

need, plus some clothes, and head off on an adventure. The only drawback is that sometimes you get hungry when you’re in the middle of nowhere. That’s when you get desperate. And when you get desperate, you eat McDonald’s. And when I eat McDonald’s, I typically regret it.

On a recent road trip down to visit my parents in Houston, we were in a small town in Oklahoma and we got desperate. “When are they going to start putting a Chick Fil-A in small towns?!” I asked with frustration as we pulled into a McDonald’s. I walked in with Thatcher to get a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries and an ice cold Sprite. I have eaten the exact same thing there for over twenty years.

I looked up at the menu and started ordering.

“I’ll take a 99 cent fries, a medium Sprite, and a FIFTEEN DOLLAR DOUBLE QUARTER POUNDER WITH CHEESE?!!!”

Panic set in as my eyes quickly scan the menu. Big Mac – $15! Quarter Pounder with Cheese- $15! Bacon Clubhouse Burger -$15! McDouble – $15!

“What the he…!” I stop just in time and look down at my 6 year-old son, Thatcher. He senses my panic, so now he’s panicked, even though he has no idea why.

“What’s wrong, Daddy?!”

“Every hamburger is fifteen stinkin’ dollars!” I reply, eyes still wide, staring at the menu. My mind starts racing back to old Twilight Zone episodes. “This is what it feels like,” I think to myself.

“So. You have more than $15, Daddy.” he says with a little levity coming back into his eyes.

“Yeah, but….it’s a McDonald’s hamburger!”

[Let’s pause here and provide some commentary.]

Completely unbeknownst to me, last week Congress passed the controversial “Burger Flipper Bonus Bill” to help provide a “living wage” for those working in the fast food industry. Its contents were uncommonly brief. “All burgers at fast food restaurants must cost a minimum of $15.00.”

[Resume “The Tale of the $15 Big Mac”]

“Can I just get a regular burger, Daddy?” Thatcher asks, still trying to wrap his mind around the situation.

McDonald's big mac beef burger
Ain’t no way I’m paying $15 for that!!

“No you can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because it costs $15!”

My confusion quickly turns to frustration, and quicker still to resolve.

“Do you know what we can get for $15?!”

“No sir.”

“We can get a heck of a lot more than a greasy McDonald’s hamburger for $15. The

government can change the cost of whatever they want, but what they can’t do is change its value. If I’m going to spend that much money, I demand far more than a low quality burger. And fortunately for us, we have a car and the freedom to choose, and we will choose something that is worth what we are going to pay.”

“It’s just as crazy as the government making companies pay a person with no experience

Strike for 15
Many restaurant chains around the country are installing kiosks to replace cashiers as a direct response to rising labor costs.

the same as they currently pay a manager. Since businesses have the freedom to choose what they spend their money on, they will choose a manager who is worth their $15 just like we will choose something that is actually worth our $15. Come on, Tiger. We’re going somewhere else.”

I grab his hand and we walk towards the door.

Thatcher and I walk out of McDonald’s determined never to darken their door again. A block down the road we find a Mexican restaurant and I get some delicious chicken fajitas for $8.99 and Thatcher gets a chicken quesadilla for $6.99.  Within a month, there were a lot of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings with “For Sale” signs on them…and a lot of burger flippers without a job.

 

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The Uninvited Guest

She knew exactly what she was…and hated herself for it.Middle Eastern Woman 2

Most people slip up sometimes and do things they regret. Her life was centered around enticing men at their lowest to go even lower. Few, after spending time with her, could sleep soundly at night. Instead, they toss and turn, wondering if others will find out.

She had some regulars, but most of her clients were complete strangers. Shame was her only consistent companion.

Last week, she was walking the streets in the afternoon and came upon a crowd. They were all looking in the same direction. She could hear gasps and see wide eyes. Typically, she avoided crowds, but her curiosity drew her closer.

She neared the crowd, then began pushing  her way through. As soon as people saw her, they grimaced and sneered. The crowd parted as she walked on, to avoid contact with someone so vile. That used to bother her; she would feel hurt. Now she was just numb.Middle eastern woman

Silence swept through the crowd as she approached the spectacle. Then she saw Him. He looked over his shoulder and into her eyes…into her soul…and smiled.

It was an innocent, loving, and kind smile. A smile unlike any she had seen in years. It was so unexpected that she didn’t even notice what He was doing.

His arm was outstretched towards the one person in town who was treated worse than she was. Now it was her time to gasp, as she realized His hand was actually touching the leper!

But the leper didn’t look like a leper anymore. He looked…normal!

Her thoughts were reeling. “I have seen that leper since I was an innocent child and have no idea what his name is. Nobody does. Nobody cared. Until now.”

She stumbled as she tried to take it all in. The crowd was soon left behind her as she walked the streets for the rest of the day; not looking for work, but trying to make sense of what she had seen. But she just couldn’t.

“He possessed the power to heal a leper, and the mercy to touch him. And…he smiled at me.”

She didn’t work that night, or the night after that. How could she?

If only she could see him again; tell him thank you; honor him the way he deserved to be honored; say “I’m sorry”.

She didn’t know why, but for some reason she felt like every bad thing she had done, every temptation yielded to, every one in some way dishonored Him…wounded Him, even.

After another restless night’s sleep, she started roaming the town again and heard rumors…Jesus was coming! Without the ability to engage people directly, she had to eavesdrop around town to get more details.

He was coming to Simon the Pharisee’s house, tomorrow!

Excitement filled her heart, but it was immediately replaced by panic.

“I have to see Him, but there is no way they will let me in to a gathering of such holy people. What will I say?!”

But she was determined! No matter what it took, she would see Jesus.

Sleep evaded her that night as she tried to think of the right words. Somehow, nothing seemed appropriate. She had to say something!

“I know! I will give him a gift!”

She searched her small home and spotted her most prized possession…an alabaster jar full of ointment. It was the only thing she owned that was worthy of Him.

The morning finally came, and she dressed herself more modestly than usual. As the time for the meeting drew near, she was almost running through the city streets towards Simon’s house.

It loomed large and imposing in the distance, in a part of town she had rarely seen.As she got close, she could see that the courtyard was still open!

Her nerves caused her to stop just outside of Simon’s house. But she closed her eyes tight to build up the nerve to barge into the house of someone who would be furious at her intrusion.

As she walked in, everybody in the room turned and looked at her with scorn. Everyone, except Jesus.

He looked at her and everything else was instantly drowned out. He looked into her eyes. He knew…everything. How?! She had no idea. But it was true.

He was looking at every single page of her life…all the horrible, lurid details. She kept expecting Him to turn away in disgust. He did the exact opposite. He forgave her! He hadn’t said a word, but she could see it in his eyes.

She instantly knew no words would be appropriate as she knelt at His feet and began weeping. As each tear fell, she could feel her load lifting. A burden she had been carrying for decades was being taken from her.

She started wiping His feet with her hair, smearing the tears in the dust. Then she brought out her most prized possession and began pouring it on His feet. She had no idea that anyone was speaking around her, much less that they were talking about her. It wouldn’t have mattered.

Then she heard Him speak for the first time…only four words, but four words that would completely change her life. “Your sins are forgiven.”

Now it was her turn to gasp as her burden was completely lifted from her.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace”

She stood up to leave and could feel a difference. She no longer stooped with the weight of her past. She felt lighter. There was something that she felt, as well…something new.

“This must be…joy.”

She slowly walked away, and those outside did not recognize the new woman who walked out of Simon’s house.

Sit With Me

If a world leader you really respected and admired invited you to coffee one morning, would you go? I think I know that answer to that one.

What if he wanted to get together quite regularly? Not with an ulterior motive, but simply due to a somewhat perplexing interest in what is going on in your life.Man sitting

There would of course be ample opportunities for him to share bits of wisdom with you. It would be a disappointment if he didn’t. He has lived a very rich life, ranging from that of a homeless man to the powerful individual that sits before you. In fact, it’s quite odd that he would have time for you in the first place. Major world events are influenced by this man and far more important people than you are in need of him. Without his leadership everything just seems to falls apart.

After you meet a few times, you begin to notice patterns. He can be a bit silent at times, but the look in his eyes always lets you know that you have his full, undivided attention. How can someone look so supremely confident, yet at the same time humbly empathetic, as if he has been in your exact circumstance? He always shows up, is never late, never bores of hearing of your cares and challenges (how I will never know) and offers up the precise bit of wisdom you need in your time of desperation.

Oddly, every time you arrive, you find he has preceded you to your favorite meeting place. There he sits, patiently, as if he has nothing more important to do. You’ve tried arriving early to see if you can beat him there, but have never managed to do so. And then you sit and start unloading all of life’s burdens, struggles and joys that clutter your mind throughout the day. His eyes never leave yours.

Then, as you draw to a close He leans in and quietly gives you words of encouragement and challenges you to offer up your best, because people are depending on you too. And just before you get up to leave, He reaches over to place a reassuring hand on your knee. You can’t help but notice the scar. From an age-old injury, He once told you. One that reminds you both how much you truly mean to him.

“Shall I see you again tomorrow morning?” He asks.