The Tale of Two Pizzas, a Used Car Battery, and What We Can Learn From All of This
Yesterday I had a really nice thing happen to me at the supermarket.
I felt so happy and inspired, that I had to share this simple story… for two reasons.
One, it was truly one of those nice little blessings for which I am very thankful, and two, it shows how we often receive by simply asking.
As I was perusing the vegetable and deli section of our supermarket, I came upon the shelf where the store-made, ready-to-bake calzones and pizzas are located. I was looking forward to taking advantage of a special the store was running, in which if I bought one fresh calzone, I would receive a free fresh pizza. A perfect treat for this Friday’s dinner.
But alas, there were no more calzones to be had.
Not to give up immediately, I looked around for a store worker, and saw a young man stocking shelves nearby. I approached him and asked him if there were any more calzones available to purchase for the special. He in turn asked someone behind the meat counter, and they both looked over at another gentleman who was apparently shopping. The young store guy approached this other man (who was dressed in regular clothes), and they both came over to help me.
I found out the man who was shopping was an employee (must have been a supervisor or manager of some sort), who said he had, “just taken his badge off”, and was shopping. I told him my dilemma apologetically (since he was off of work already), but his pleasant response was in the spirit of true customer service.
First he told me that there were probably not going to be any more calzones today. I said, “OK” with a slight hesitation and a little disappointment, but I would have been OK with this outcome. It was his next question that caught me off guard in a good sort of way. He then said, “What can I do to make this right?”.
I wasn’t sure what to suggest, and so he then offered me a buy-one-pizza, get-one-free deal, and asked if that would make me happy. I told him it certainly would, so he had me give his name to the cashier and said to tell them that he had OK’d the substitution. I thanked him, and with a renewed bounce in my step (and two new pizzas in my cart), off I went to complete my grocery shopping.
You see, I could have just walked (or stomped), off in disappointment without any calzones or pizza in my cart. I would have gotten over it, but it would have left a slightly negative taste in my mouth. But by taking a little effort to politely ask for help, I was blessed with an even better deal (the pizza was less expensive than the calzone I was originally going to buy). I felt happy and cared for as a customer, and very satisfied, and can now happily recommend this particular market to others!
My husband had a similar experience a little while ago at the auto parts store. He had purchased a car battery which stopped working, and in bringing it in to pick up a replacement, he was told that it was just days out of warranty.
He had one of our sons with him, whom he looked over at and basically said, “Now watch and learn.”
He spoke to someone who worked there (probably asked for a supervisor), told him of his problem, and politely asked what they could do for him since it was so close to the warranty date.
This store employee was able to offer him a substantial discount on a new battery, even though technically it was past warranty. My husband was also very pleased and now feels even better about supporting this business.
You see, by the letter of the law, in either case we should have just been “satisfied” going without, but with a little effort and going out of our comfort zones to ask, we were each blessed with something slightly undeserved.
My husband often speaks of how his father taught him to “haggle” or bargain with people at yard sales and such. He was probably embarrassed sometimes when he was young (OK, he said he literally slouched down in the car seat on some occasions), but in the end, he was taught the value of saving money and simply asking for something better than what was offered.
I’m not suggesting we should not ever be willing to pay a fair price for an item without any bargaining; it’s just that although some of us are not naturally comfortable with this practice, many people or businesses would rather profit monetarily a little less in order to gain your trust, confidence and loyalty. There are those in business who truly wish to meet your needs as a customer, and at the very least, it’s a practical business practice to please one’s customers.
It won’t always work out in our favor. We need to be courteous and polite, even if the answer is, “no”.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Now let’s think about some spiritual applications.
The Bible clearly tells us to ask and we will receive.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
– Matthew 7:7 NLT
It also tells us that sometimes we act selfishly and foolishly, but still don’t have something because we simply haven’t asked God.
“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”
-James 4:2 NLT
To provide balance, the scriptures also guide us in the principles of being content, living with thanksgiving, treating others with respect, and enduring hardship and persevering through the difficulties that will come in life.
I’m not going to get all theological here, but let’s just simplify things for a moment.
As a Christian, I truly believe that God not only knows and loves me, but he knows best what I need. Sometimes he will give me an obvious blessing or even a miracle, to teach me of his eternal care and his unlimited power.
Other times, like a loving but firm parent, he will answer my request with a “no” or perhaps a “wait”, because he cares less about my comfort, and more about my growth as a person. Sometimes my suffering will result in more good (for myself and/or others), and he sees the bigger picture.
So why not just ask God, just as a child would ask a parent, and patiently and thankfully await his response?
There are some stipulations, such as making sure what I’m asking for is not going against his commandments or his nature, and making sure my heart is right in order to make a wise request. But just as a child with a parent, sometimes I will receive a blessing I don’t deserve or wouldn’t have otherwise received had I not asked.
How we enjoy those moments!
At other times, I will be treated like the loved daughter that I am to God, and will have to wait or even give up my desire. In those situations, I will have the opportunity to learn trust and patience. Sometimes I will have to endure hardship or discipline to make me a stronger, more mature person.
Often the child does not know what is best for them, but a wise and caring parent can see a bigger picture.
God our Father really does know what is best.
In times of suffering and difficulty, or even just minor discomfort, I will gain “tools” which I can use to bless and help others in similar circumstances. I can deepen my understanding for others in difficult situations, and offer them heart-felt compassion and a listening ear or timely advice.
So whether it’s for practical reasons like saving our hard-earned cash, or to receive a non-material or spiritual blessing, I encourage you to go ahead and ask.
You just never know what good may come of it.