Yesterday was an epic day for liberty loving Americans. People of all ages, sizes, colors, creeds and backgrounds descended on Chick-Fil-A franchises all over America to enjoy some delicious food and show their support for a business who has been under attack in recent days by those intolerant of Christians who actually live out their faith. I was one of the people showing my appreciation for Chick-Fil-A yesterday; here was my experience.
I, unfortunately, do not have the pleasure of enjoying a local Chick-Fil-A franchise, so I made the 30 mile (45 min) journey to the closest Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Killeen, Texas. When I first approached the Killeen Chick-Fil-A, I could see cars wrapped around the building waiting to enter the drive-thru. There were two guys in the parking lot in bright yellow vests adorned with the Chick-Fil-A logos taking the orders of those waiting in the incredibly long line. I had not intended to go through the drive-thru, but because of the traffic-flow, I found myself waiting in that line for about 25 minutes before I could maneuver my way into the parking lot of a much-less-busy-neighboring restaurant where several other Chick-Fil-A patrons had parked.
As I walked through the doors of the Chick-Fil-A I could hardly see inside as I tried to work my way through into the throng of people to get to a spot on the other side of the restaurant for a better vantage point. An elderly black man with a cane smiled and said, “You can squeeze through here” and moved aside as a lady with a baby in her arms moved a little to allow me into the restaurant. The place was packed with people. I was initially more curious in surveying the scene than in getting in one of the long lines to order my food, so I worked my way slowly to the side of the restaurant where I was able to take a few pictures with my phone to commemorate the day.
After my initial look around the crowd in the restaurant I got in a line to order my food. The wait to order was surprisingly short.. and I arrived at the counter. I was greeted with a smile. The girl who took my order did so with great speed. She asked my name as she handed me my receipt, and I took my place at the back of the crowd to wait on my order. I stood next to a young man with very short cropped hair, who I assumed was a member of our military. On my other side was a lady with her teenage daughter and younger son. She said that had heard about this Chick-Fil-A Appreciation day on television, and wanted to drive over from Kempner, TX to show support. As I waited, I began to notice the group gathered in this restaurant was remarkably diverse. I saw young families, teenagers, elderly, black, white, and Latino people. I noticed what appeared to be a teenage couple on a date and the girl had a couple of tattoos and a nose piercing. I noticed a beautiful dark-skinned boy (probably 6-7 years old) standing in line with his father.
Another striking difference about this group was how quiet and patient everyone seemed. Even though there were long lines and long waits for food, there was no sense of chaos, and you could carry on a conversation without having to raise your voice or struggle to hear. There was a play-room in the back of the store for the children, and remarkably, the playing children couldn’t really be heard inside the eating area. I am not sure if that was because they were playing quietly, or if the glass enclosed area had been specifically designed to mute the noise.
A Latino man was calling out the names of customers as the orders were ready. He walked around the restaurant to deliver the food personally to those waiting at tables. Another blond girl stood behind the counter and called out the names of patrons with waiting orders. Again, everything was done with a smile. I couldn’t see very far into the food prep area, but it appeared that workers were standing shoulder to shoulder preparing the orders. They clearly had brought in a larger-than-usual number of workers for this event. After a long wait I heard ‘Sue’ called out and approached the counter to collect my order. The blond girl handing me my food and drink smiled and said ‘Thank you.’
I made my way out of the restaurant and back to my car. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Dan Cathy and his stance. What a remarkable business he has built. His employees clearly exemplify excellence by any measure. How this man or this business could be mocked or ridiculed is beyond me.