I did something not very Christlike recently. Well, that probably happens on a regular basis. But this one sort of stuck with me.
I went to a movie last week with my brother-in-law Matt. He had free tickets to The Bourne Legacy preview. At first I thought someone had given him the tickets – I was thinking red carpet, reserved seats. But when we arrived, I quickly discovered, as we waited in line hoping to get a seat, that the tix came from an insert in the paper. No carpet; first come first served seating. If you got there too late, you were out of luck.
If my co-workers and friends could all agree on one adjective to describe me, I think it would be “late.” Yea, I was late picking Matt up. Had to touch base with a co-worker before I left work, oh, and finish up that last email. It was downhill from there.
We got to the theater about 30 minutes before the movie started. It was almost full. We were warned that we might not be able to sit together. Although we would have preferred to, it wasn’t a huge deal.
Matt got popcorn while I scoped out seats. I found two on the same row. There was one guy, who had come to the movie alone, sitting between two open seats. He was a slight dude with a scruffy beard, and he was having an intense conversation on his cell phone. I motioned down the aisle – “Are those open?”
I walked to the middle of the aisle and said, “I need them both. My buddy is coming.”
The guy nodded again.
I sat down. Soon Matt walked in and sat on the other side of the iphone chatter.
Matt and I began a conversation and began passing popcorn over Scruffy Boy. He didn’t flinch. He also didn’t offer to switch seats with either of us. Matt looked at me, “Did you ask him to switch seats?”
I responded in a nice tone, “Nah, he’s been on the phone since I got here.”
When the movie started, he finished his conversation. I leaned over and asked, “Do you mind switching seats with me so I can share the popcorn with my buddy? I don’t want to eat over your lap.”
He pondered my request for an uncomfortable amount of time.
“I don’t mind if you eat over me.”
Now the three seats were near the middle of the aisle. The people in front of us were the same height, no big head blocking anyone’s view. Why wouldn’t he switch seats?
“Seriously?” I inquired.
He didn’t respond.
At that point I was resigned to the fact that I was staying put. And I thought, It’s not that big of a deal, we’re just going to watch a movie. But as I sat there, I found myself thinking about what I might say to this dude after the credits rolled. Most of the thoughts running through my head included an expletive.
And then, even though I really wasn’t hungry, I conjured up an incredible craving for the buttered morsels Matt held in his large white bag. I leaned over Scruffy, “Matt, can I have some popcorn?” He held the bag right over the knees. “Thank you.” I’m always polite. I even intentionally took my time filling my hand with the treat, at one point just stretching my fingers in the top of the bag to prolong the time I reached over my nemisis.
Then, I poised my elbow conspicuously over the arm rest on his side of my seat and leaned my knees in his direction as well. I was strategically trying to make him uncomfortable. He sat with his arms folded across his chest – I saw to it that he couldn’t stretch out.
How ridiculous I thought his behavior, until I sat back and reviewed my own.
“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39
I’m glad my kids weren’t there. What a poor, poor example their father set on how to treat your fellow-man.