We recently saw a movie called The Last Shift and I loved it, because it left me thinking about the story for days. I won’t disclose the whole story here (because I hope you watch it!) but basically an older man has been the manager at a fast food drive through for 38 years and feels very proud of his job. He’s taken ownership of the place and loves that he’s been there so long…until a new arrival shows up.
This new arrival is a young man that will take the older man’s job, because it’s soon to be his last shift. He’s retiring to move away and tend to his aging mom. This new arrival is a disgruntled youth and he starts making fun of the old man, chiding him for never doing anything with his life except make fries and burgers.
There are LOTS of other things that happened in the movie, with both of the characters, but this one particular observance is what I’m focusing on in this story.
The older man felt good about himself, in fact he felt proud – until someone made him feel less than. Both characters end up showing their flaws, but this part made me sad.
There are all sorts of people in the world, and we only live in our little small circle of friends that are usually “like us” in economic status, looks, and beliefs. Yet there are those we are yet to meet that are totally unlike us, and the words and looks we offer might just make or break that person’s day…or life.
This older man had found his niche, he was good at what he did, and the customers liked him. He had learned to manage the store well, and he was given responsibilities that showed him he was trusted. One thing the boy asked was, “How much do you get paid?” When the old man shared his hourly pay, the boy scoffed and alerted the old man to how little that was, and how the people he worked for were just using him. The old man was stunned and began to wonder about his job and even himself.
I’m pretty sure I’ve let something slip out of my mouth that made someone feel less than about themselves. And I know that I’ve received words and comments from others that have made me feel bad, as well.
I recall when we had some friends over not long after my son had been born and the lady commented on my weight “gain.” I’m thinking she meant nothing by it, but it made me feel fat and I hated myself for months until I lost some weight. Another time, I had some friends over to see our new home and the first thing one said was how small my kids’ rooms were, and I then was embarrassed and felt self-conscious about my home that I had loved.
Let me stop here and say that often we receive words and comments from others and they mean nothing by it, and we need to let their comments roll off our backs like water off a duck’s back. However, for this story I’m talking about us – our mouths – our words – and to think before we speak.
The boy in the movie was irritated, disgruntled, and angry that he had to take a menial job because he was on probation, and he was stressed with his own life situation. He had an attitude, and he spouted off whatever he thought without any regard for the consequences of those words landing on tender ears. In this film, it was the ears of an older gentleman.
Sure, the older man maybe could have climbed the social ladder of success and perhaps gotten a more prestigious job, but he was happy. He loved what he did, and he was proud of it. Those two attitudes are something more we all need – the satisfaction with what we have and the smile that come with contentment.
But along comes social media, advertisements, new ideas and the constant barrage of words and directives to become more, do more, make more, and get more…and that sounds appealing. We look and we wonder and we want, and pretty soon we’ve driven right off the road into a ditch.
That boy’s words sent the older gentleman into the ditch of despair, when he had been driving on the highway of happiness.
Note taken. I hope I remember that movie and its message (one of many) for a long time…and watch what I say to those around me that are like me…or unlike me…but still a friend worth valuing and affirming.