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Topic: Insulted (11/01/04)
TITLE: The Ultimate Insult
By Lois Jennison Tribble
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It was the men, mostly contractors, slamming the doors of their pickups and jostling each other good-naturedly at the entrance. "G' morning, Ma," the men responded as the white-haired lady behind the counter greeted each by name. The men eagerly exchanged cash for their morning fodder as the jingling register bore witness.
Already the tables were crowded beneath the homemade signs cramming the walls, products of Pop's tireless energy. The messages were strong as Ma's coffee but cut with cream, designed to provoke conversation or at least a second thought. Pop rotated their placement to match his perception of the current needs of his menagerie. Everybody knew Pop disapproved of how Mike kept fishing instead of going to work once the sign appeared in front of Mike's habitual table: "Even a mosquito doesn't get a slap on the back until it starts to work". After the sign "The right attitude toward life begins with gratitude toward God" showed up on the wall by Pete's place, it only took him a day or two to get the point and quit bellyaching. Pop's favorite was posted at the counter in front of the register: "Ask me about credit." It was his springboard launching a discussion about how Jesus deserved the credit for all his blessings.
Steve sat munching on a bearclaw while he slurped hot coffee. His corner had been flanked by the adage "A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice" ever since his daughter had been caught drinking. "Any of you seen Jim lately?" he asked.
Jim was a favorite, not only adept at dishing it out, but at taking it. Last year when SOMEONE (no one could prove it was Bob) got carried away and horse manure miraculously filled his pickup cab, Jim kept his cool. He just shook his head and said, "If that don't beat all! Somebody stole the horse and left me with all the evidence!" Jim was famous for keeping cool. Ma sometimes thought his patience tempted people to try him, making Jim the butt of more jokes than most. Come to think of it, he hadn't been in for a while.
"I seen his truck in front of PJ's at the other end of town," Art replied. For the past year Art had been leapfrogging job to job. Pop's clear advice hung on the wall behind him, if he'd ever bother to look -- "Consider the postage stamp: Its value lies in sticking to one thing until it gets there".
"Yeah, Jim's steered clear of here ever since his *#*%*@*#* boy got fired," Fred added, oblivious to Pop's posted threat, "Cussing will cost you extra".
"Wasn't the kid working for you, Sam, on that big roofing contract in the new tract?" Bob asked beneath "No one is too bad to be forgiven".
"He worked for me for a while. But he got on our nerves -- I don't know. He just didn't fit in with the rest of us, so I let him go." Sam sprawled in his chair by the wall under "Honesty means never having to look over your shoulder".
"You don't think Jim's mad, do you?" Steve questioned.
"Just because I got rid of his son? With all he's taken off of us, why would a guy like Jim get mad at that?"
Ma remembered Pop's efforts to lead Jim to Christ. "I believe in God, and I respect Him -- I really do," Jim had said. "And I do good every chance I get -- you know me. Jesus is fine for you if you need Him, but there are other roads that lead to Heaven." How strange, she thought. Now Jim's son had been rejected and he was insulted. How did he think God felt when he rejected Jesus?