Six years ago a gentleman asked me to thank people who are making the world a better place by what some may call menial tasks. He asked me to thank them, hand them a $5 bill, and a card which says YOU ARE MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. THANK YOU. It took much courage to do it the first time but now this has become a way of life for me.
Since I travel a lot, I found myself thanking maintenance workers in public restrooms. Each person, grateful and surprised, confirmed what a cleaner once told me: “Lady, nobody ever talk to us.”
In my retreat it became clear that it is one thing to thank a person, another to actually clean a public restroom. Responding to this spiritual insight, I asked an owner of a nearby McDonalds if, for two days a month, I could clean tables, chairs, lobby, and restrooms.
This particular McDonalds, under the general management of a very capable Jean Gerard Bonheur, is three blocks from a homeless shelter. I am meeting very good people who either
wander aimlessly on their journey because they can’t find a way or are down on their luck due to painful situations in their life. How easily I judged the homeless until I knew their name and
heard their stories!
I work hard and come home stiff as a board. But so do many, many people who work 5 days a week for 8 hours cleaning. People know I am a religious sister and this expands my opportunities for a ministry of hope. I have been asked many questions…from the quality of my flashlight (a very important item in a homeless shelter!) to being afraid to die by a 17-year-old.
I am happy God led me to McDonalds and, as CREW MEMBER OF THE MONTH (September), I do my best and try to remain compassionate lest my heart turn to stone. It is one thing to speak to a homeless person on the street and quite another when he/she dirties the restroom I just cleaned or drops crumbs on my well-swept floor!
Next time you are in a McDonalds remember that, for some people, it is a place of warmth in winter, a meeting place of friends, and a possibility of a served hot sandwich and drink. And pray for the staff and customers!