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What makes us ‘unclean’ is not what goes in

Ever wonder what goes on behind the service doors of restaurants? I have; I guess that’s why I avoid sitting near them.

I recall a Mexican restaurant where I once dined. The place was teeming with college age kids which I counted as a positive sign. However, our waitress exited through those swinging doors, and I looked just as they swung open. Wrong move. The floor looked like the remnants of a food fight or the world’s largest tossed salad.

I worked at concentrating on the menu and the room filled with customers. Then I ordered my favorite dish which was served with promptness and friendliness, but my appetite immediately left and waited for me in the car. My dish was served on giant pieces of lettuce. I could have sworn I saw Nike tracks on the leaves.

Our most vivid restaurant hygiene experience happened on one of our family trips to Colorado. We were traveling off the beaten path in order to catch the more scenic route and decided to have breakfast at a typical small town restaurant — scenic view included. That was easy to find in Colorado. We pulled into the parking lot of a small log cabin restaurant and were greeted with the aroma of hot coffee.

Our waitress seated us near a window that looked out on snow-capped mountains and a mountain stream we could almost hear. It was fitting that we order the “mountain stack” of pancakes.

The oohs and ahhs of our mountain watching were interrupted by the wailing and howling of a dog outside the restaurant. A man near the cash register pushed open the kitchen door and said something to the cook. As we looked out the window in search of the distressed animal, we saw the cook step into the side yard and begin scolding a giant, wolf-like dog that was tied to an aspen tree.

Just before he turned to go back to his work (cooking our mountain stack of pancakes), he took his spatula and gave the dog a couple of sound swats. That took care of the dog’s howling — along with our appetites.

We’ve laughed at a lot about some of our restaurant experiences, and that’s okay. According to Jesus, that’s not nearly as serious as a lot of us try to make it.

He said that what goes into a man’s mouth doesn’t make him “unclean,” but what comes out of his mouth is what makes him “unclean.” If I’m mindful of that, I’ll be less concerned about a Board of Health seal in the places I eat and a lot more concerned about the Father’s seal of approval concerning my conversation.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.