Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tomatoes and Potatoes

Many years ago my wife and I were watching a movie on TV which took us way past our normal bed time. The movie had just ended and before we knew it we began to be intrigued by the next movie that came on which was called; “Tomatoes and Potatoes”.
In the movie there was a small country diner located in some unknown town in the Midwest complete with round chrome bar stools bolted to the floor with upholstered red vinyl seats that you could spin around on while you ate your food. It was located next to a two story brick 1940’s era machine factory and you could see who was inside the diner as you passed by in your car.
As you pulled into the crushed lime stone parking lot you could see that the diner was open for business and there was some activity happening inside.
As we sat there in a vintage car with a big dash board and steering wheel in front of us this unusual story began to unfold in front of our eyes.
The dim lit metal diner was visible through the windshield wipers as they were flapping across the big window of the car as the rain continued to pour.. Just then the factory whistle blew and without hesitation the steel door on the side of the building burst open as a herd of men began to pour out across the parking lot to the diner in the rain to get a bite to eat. As the men arrived in their dirty baggy bib overhauls, they placed their hats on the hat rack and one by one went into the restroom to clean up before they went to the food line to be served.
The waitresses were already in place behind the counter in anticipation of their arrival. Each waitress who had a hair net on and wore a typical apron from the 50’s and would take turns asking the men what they wanted on the cafeteria style buffet and then they would plop it on their plates.
All night each waitress had her hot metal food trays to serve in front of her and would ask, “ chicken or ham”, “Corn or beans”? Someone else would ask, “tomatoes or potatoes”?
As the night wore on one waitress who had been there for several hours was somewhat tired and aloof as she was preoccupied from thoughts of her boy friend that had just dumped her, ask the man; “Tomatoes or Potatoes”? The worker with a stern face and messed up hair promptly said, “potatoes” but she thought he said “tomatoes” and she quickly plopped a helping of tomatoes on his plate. Then the worker dude became enraged and said, ” I said Potatoes”!!!. Then the waitress stared at him and her eye’s became glassy, her jaw dropped, her face turned beat red and she began crying uncontrollably and then hesitated for a moment and then screamed at him, as she belligerently banged her spoon on the tray she shouted , ” tomatoes!!!….Potatoes!!!! Humiliators!!! Just then the other waitresses came to her rescue and tried to calm her down but then she saw the embroidery of an alligator on his designer izod shirt under the dirty baggy bib overhauls she went ballistic ….. “Alligators!!!!, Agitators!!!!, and with that she took a butcher knife and stabbed one of the waitresses that was trying to calm her down.
Just then we drove off into the rainy night as the ambulance arrived and everyone was going crazy inside the diner trying to cope with what had just happened.
This story reminded me of a situation that happened to me this week as I was staying up late because I had a lot on my platter namely a mid night snack of Chinese food leftovers. It was so good that I said , ” if there was more I’d eat it”, but instead I scraped out what was left in the bowl and took the one and only last bite and went to bed at a little after 1:30 am
As I tip toed quietly into the bedroom I notice that my wife was very much asleep so I carefully slipped under the covers to avoid detection. As I lay there I could hear her breathe with a soft snore and I relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep within moments. Then about 4:45 something woke both of us up and as we tried to fall back to sleep we engage in some small talk and begin to review our concerns of the day, namely the state of our business which has totally come to a halt therefore throwing us into delinquency with all of our bills. As we lay there we try to think of different ways to get out of this embarrassing mess because we realize this time it’s a bigger problem than we can handle by ourselves. I made the comment about how many businesses have collapsed and how people can’t pay each other off. The conversation goes straight to Obama and “how dare he get our nation so screwed up so quickly”. If you are in a hole don’t dig it deeper to get out!! Then I said, ”well if for some reason he gets booted out of office Vice president Joe Biden will take over, but he is just as liberal. And If Joe Biden gets the boot then it’s Nancy Pelosi speaker of the house will take over. And if Nancy Pelosi gets the boot, then it’s Hillary Clinton Secretary of State would become the next President”. Knowing that I was thinking in terms of a scenario, all I could do was say, “boy what a mess our country is in, there’s not a lot we can do”.
Then I start to review a current customer who said, “My wife and I are in Florida with the family and we won’t be back for two weeks”. I said in my mind, “yea but I need to be paid now, I did the work and I’ve got a ton of bills to pay and the phone is not ringing accept for the bill collectors.
Then I review each one of the bills out loud with my wife! “Home mortgage is past due by two months going on three, rent at the shop is due, Two electric bills, (one for home and one for the shop), two phone bills, two water bills , two gas bills , fuel for the vehicles, food bills and medical bills that seem to reach the clouds and the list goes on as I conclude that this is one time I need help”! I can feel my blood pressure mounting! .
Then I start to think about my kids and how they are trying to find jobs in this suppressed economy as they look to us for advice and return home for a place to stay. Then I think about selling the house or our contents and that becomes an issue of, “no one will give us a dime for it because there are other homes that are more expensive that aren’t being sold for what we are asking for ours”.
Then I think about the condition of our situation and run a quick compare and think about others who are living in far worst conditions in the world and I become shamefaced and feel guilty for ever investing in a home or furnishings which are typical in most homes of America.
I say things like “boy what a mess our country is in, there’s not a lot we can do”. If customers don’t come to the shop because they are afraid to spend their money I can’t pay the bills and we are stuck in a real jam.
Then I find myself reviewing verses in the scripture such as: “come unto me and I will give you rest”, or “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding”. I think of Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the [sons] of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples fishing all night and how that’s what I’ve been up to….not catching a thing!!! No fish/ no customers no money no food. Then Jesus comes along and says, Cast your nets to the other side…..boom!!! they’ve now have more fish than they know what to do with but Jesus has something better for them to do and that is to become fishers of men.
I told my wife, “ya know, I think I’m beginning to sound like the waitress in the movie “Potatoes and Tomatoes that took it all too serious and went postal”.
Just then my wife says Mark let’s get some rest and before you know it the alarm goes off and it’s time to go to church.
As I review my own situation, I realize that Jesus has the ability to say, “Cast your net to the other side”. I realize that I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and yet I have a lot of earthly burdens that are seemingly a noose around my neck. Somehow I’ve got to learn to reach up and unclasp the latch on the necklace of burdens and place it all at the feet of Jesus.

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