Have you ever been out at a restaurant with someone and hoped they flinched first when it came time to grab the bill?
I have. It’s not always this way… I’ve had good times and lean times. (I like the good times.) But thinking about the lean times…
Sometimes you just don’t want to put out the cash for the meal… and sometimes you simply haven’t got it. The other guy grabbing the bill might be a narrow escape from a stint doing dishes in the back… or perhaps from having to dip into the rent or grocery money. Or maybe you just really don’t have it.
I’ve cancelled breakfast appointments before because I didn’t have the cash to spare — and breakfast is the cheapest meal to eat out. $3 I couldn’t spare. But breakfast is a comparitively inexpensive meal, and I’m thinking about expensive meals.
There have been times perhaps when I’ve been invited to dine… and I already knew the other person had the bill. Times when the meal that was going to be set before me was bound to be a really great one, beyond the $3 I could’t spare and well into the many dollars I just didn’t have. Naturally, this helps a great deal because at the time, I know this meal is not going to be cheap. Perhaps it’s not one I could easily afford, even in times of plenty.
A really good meal is not to be taken for granted, particularly when it comes to you at someone else’s expense. Be it prime rib, top sirloin, or lobster tails… it would be an affront not to say “thanks,” to merely eat and walk away. To wrap up the experience just sauntering away with a full stomach without acknowledging the person with whom you’ve dined, who picked up the bill.
But when you dine with someone, there’s more than just the food, there’s the exchange, the encounter, the conversation between you. It wouldn’t be the same without the meal, but then the meal wouldn’t be the same without the conversation either. To miss this, to dine with someone, to skip the conversation, to not acknowledge with thanks, and to walk away, leaving them with the bill…. is just in some way vile. It grossly undervalues the essence of the meal you’ve just shared. It becomes a meal too cheap.
These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as they set the table for communion recently.
God, keep us from having a meal too cheap.
I’ll drink to that!