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Business Trip Musings

March 7, 2012

The countryside stretches out to the horizon on either side of the freeway. Mile after mile of cornfields roll by for hours on end at a 75 mile-an-hour clip. The vast farmland is punctuated with small clusters of human population and slopes littered with the dark outlines of cattle. It brings new perspective to how rich our United States of America really is.

“What are you hungry for?” my coworker asks, as we’re due to arrive at our destination around suppertime. We’re surrounded by endless acres of corn and steer, so we decide a good, juicy steak would be just the thing. You can’t go wrong with a steak out here, right? We get directions to a local steakhouse from the hotel desk clerk, and pull up in front of a neglected supper club tucked under the overpass at the end of a neighborhood street of broken pavement. Don’t let appearances fool you, I tell myself. The owner owns his own cattle and slaughterhouse, remember? We walk in and let our eyes adjust to the dimly lit interior. The place is all but deserted. I have developed a rip-roaring sinus infection on the 12 hour drive, but I can still catch the aroma of a million smoked cigarettes and cigars in the air. I order the anticipated steak, and for whatever reason, my coworker orders the salmon. The salmon proves to be lukewarm and dry, probably from being so far from it’s original habitat. The steak is similarly lukewarm, if not at least cooked properly to the desired Medium. As we finish the meal, the one other occupied table in the entire restaurant decides to enjoy an after-meal smoke. My eyes start to sting. It hasn’t exactly been an auspicious start to our culinary experience in the heartland.

At lunch the following day, our clients take us out to “a really good place” for lunch. It’s a bar. Complete with cigarette stench. I have a chicken sandwich. Meh.

For supper we express interest in barbecue, so we are directed to “a really good place” for barbecue. We should have known better, right? But we’re strangers in town, so what can you do. As it turns out, The Spare Rib (a bar…) has but one barbecue selection on the menu. You guessed it, ribs. But that’s OK, ribs are my favorite. But I prefer them nice and hot. And a little more effort expended on the sauce would have been nice, as opposed to something out of a bottle that the Generic Foods salesman had on sale that week. (The cole slaw was pretty good, I’ll give them that.) We quickly polish off the meal and bolt as the one other table lights up for their de rigueur after-meal smoke.

We marvel at our string of bad luck in the dining department, but hold on to hope that our clients will come through for us at lunch on our final day in town. They promise us “a really good place” for fried chicken. Indeed, it is fried chicken. (And with no odor of cigarettes, a step in the right direction.) But like every preceding meal, it is just adequate. It’s not bad. It’s entirely edible. The service is even a smidge better than what I’m used to in my hometown. But it’s just nothing worth writing home about.

Which got me thinking.

It was as if the town of 25,000 was surrounded by the finest raw materials to assemble an unbelievable steak-n-potatoes meal, yet they decided to settle for mediocre. Are they numbed to the possibilities of the natural resources that are available to them?
And do I do the same in my spiritual life? I have been given the mind-blowing gift of eternal life and had my sins paid for me. My God even wants me to ENJOY him (imagine that!) and cultivate a relationship with him. I have been given a tome that reveals His wisdom and character, so that I can learn more about Him. I’m even surrounded by His creative handiwork, that constantly point to Him.

I don’t want to settle for squeezing mayonnaise from a packet onto a chicken sandwich in a smoky bar, when I could be having an incredible time getting to know the God of the universe.

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2 Comments
  1. jessicawoodrum permalink

    My favorite thing about traveling is the eating part. I’m sorry that you were robbed of a good experience. Perhaps next time try using urbanspoon.com or one of those restaurant rating site. Might have better luck? Liked the analogy that you were able to pull out of it though, it’s funny the things God uses in our lives to better reveal himself to us.

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