Cup Thrower

I saw something yesterday that made me both cringe and laugh, though not at the same time (try it — it’s quite difficult).

I was part of an event that featured hot chocolate and a Christmas movie for many children and their families. This was a strategically planned event because it followed an outdoor Christmas parade that included in its audience children who were cold but not freezing and parents who wanted to sit down but not on a curb. No problem — you can now enter a warm place to get a hot cup of chocolate and watch a movie, and please enjoy the festivities while the furnace runs and the hot chocolate flows. There are cookies, too. Take. Eat. Enjoy.

About 500 people later, the hot chocolate and cookies started to dry up — a saying that works better when describing the liquid hot chocolate than it does cookies, since cookies tend to be dry. Nonetheless, they started to run out of refreshments. This is good because it means that the children and their families are now warm and chocolated, but bad because it means that some people who came in to get the good stuff will turn away empty handed. We found the once full chocolate tank now empty, the once abundant cookie platter now a dozen crumbs, and about 50% of the audience happy and fulfilled, ready for a Christmas movie to compliment their hot chocolate and cookies. It was a delightful environment full of Christmas cheer.

Until the cup thrower showed up.

When you run out of something, there’s always a risk that a mob will form, including torches, pitchforks, nonsensical yelling and other elements from circa 1781. When food is promised and food is not delivered, it relies heavily on the good graces and understanding of the people en masse. And that’s what we saw, at least for the most part. Someone would come up, pull the spigot on the hot cocoa dispenser, and we would say “Sorry sir/madam (only choosing one based on appearance) — the hot chocolate is gone.” Most of the time people would move on, often acknowledging that it’s cool and that life will go on, etc.

Until the cup thrower showed up.

She came up, just like so many others had, and took a Dart model J6 styrofoam cup from the stack. She reached for the tank as we said “oh, sorry, ma’am — it’s gone”. She stared. At me. At the person next to me. We were now the authority of food delivery in that moment, and we had done the wrong thing. She continued to stare at us. To break the tension, we thought we would apologize again — “Sorry — it’s, uh, it’s gone…um… yeah.” The staring continued. And then, as all of life’s disappointments came to a head, she threw the cup at the table and stormed off. Boy, did I feel terrible. Boy, did I laugh. The terrible-feeling part of me wished that I had just a little extra hot chocolate to give to this poor soul whose day had just been ruined. The laughing-part of me, well, laughed. No, not in her face. Moments later, long after she moved on to the next thing. It was all I could do, since the tension I had tried to break before was still there, thicker than Swiss Miss.

Cup thrower moved on to the next thing in life.

I’ve grown accustomed to upsetting people and watching them flip a switch at me, especially in the last 3 years. At least there’s no question about how she felt. I’d like to think that she left the event and went to a nice diner and ordered a hot chocolate and a mass-produced Christmas cookie. I’d like to think that the server brought these items to her, and she ate and drank merrily. I’d like to not think about what might happen if they’ve run out at the restaurant, too. Who knows what might be thrown.

Does this woman need Christ? Yes — just as you and I do. I don’t look down on her, and here’s why. She did what most of us want to do in these kinds of situations. I admit it — I’ve done it before. Perhaps you have, too. You know the scene: you’re driving to grandma’s house and need to make a quick stop at some no-name Denny’s in Bismarck or something. The waitress brings out strawberry topping for your pancakes when you clearly requested blueberries. After a brief scuffle and a few thrown blueberries, you storm out, laughing and pushing your friends into the bushes. “That was fun!”, you exclaim to your frat pals. We may never know why grandma invited you and your frat pals to dinner but that’s another story. You got to be an anonymous no-namer in a town you’ll never see again. In that scenario, it’s easy to be a jerk — much easier than in your hometown, where people write letters to the editor with titles like “what should be done about that blueberry-throwing Adam Davidson?”

If you’ll allow me to point to the obvious — Romans 3:23 — we’re all cup throwers. Were all mad because we didn’t get our way. Were all upset that someone got a hot chocolate and we didn’t. We often get mad because we don’t get what we think we deserve. And if you’ll allow me to point out the other obvious thing, that we all deserve death, it’s a pretty good deal if you think about it. You need Christ. I need Christ. All God’s cup throwers need Christ.

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