My Day at Chick-Fil-A
by Rebekah Maxwell
You’ve seen the reports. You’ve seen the pictures. Long, LONG lines of waiting people in drive-throughs and dining rooms, buying out the entire chicken sandwich stock of whole cities.
What you’ve probably also seen is the commentary. Everyone, qualified or not, informed or not, has an opinion on the spontaneous outpouring of thousands of Americans to support what one business owner said, and his right to say it. Those opinions seem to range from thoughtful (“I wonder if we could use this type of enthusiasm to really transform the country”) to thoughtless (“I know we didn’t see any violence at any Chick-Fil-A, but…but those evil Christians wanted to…they would have if they could, those horrible haters.”)
The most common analysis appears to be the tendency from reporters or general naysayers to act like the whole thing didn’t really happen. Just a couple people. Well, maybe a couple hundred, but certainly nothing noteworthy. Nothing to see here. Oh, there are two protestors with anti-marriage signs in an empty lot across the street? Let’s go film them.
The story is inescapable, but I didn’t really need to see all those reports, reactions, and red herrings. Because I was there. And I take to the blog this morning to tell you what I didn’t see.
I didn’t see any violence. There were no harsh words or angry glares, no shoving or stampeding, or snarls. This was a never-shrinking line of hundreds, encircling the food court of the 4th largest shopping mall in the Midwest. If you put this many strangers on your average freeway, all trying to get to the same exit for lunch, just imagine the chaos! But I didn’t see people upset.
I saw thousands of people waiting for two or more hours to buy lunch. I saw hundreds of families, with newborn babies and great-grandmas in tow, standing in line, smiling and chatting with each other. I saw strangers stand side-by-side with the amiability and patience that only a shared sense of purpose can bring. I saw the crowd break into song, clapping and belting “God Bless America,” while they waited (even the staff at nearby competing food stands joined in).
I saw shoppers, completely unaware of what was going on, stare at the line in bemusement before coming up to ask, “What’s this all about? Are they giving away free food?” Upon hearing it was about supporting marriage and free speech, their response was typically, a surprised “Oh.” Yes, even though we have to pay for it, we’re here…for as long as it takes to be heard. That’s what taking a stand is about.
While in line, I took the liberty of interviewing those people around me. If you really want to know why these families came to Chick-Fil-A, listen to their own words.