I had one of those experiences today that was so awesome, so coincidental, so serendipitous that I just have to share it.
About six years ago, my former youth group from North Christian Church in Columbus, Ind., came to visit me here in the Chicago area. They drove in Friday night and we spent Saturday downtown. We cruised Navy Pier and then went for lunch at Ed Debevic’s. I had never been there before, but I immediately loved it. Ed’s has a 50’s-diner theme and all the wait staff are in character. The cool thing is that they treat all the customers very rudely (and hilariously!).
The insult you. They throw straws at you. The pay very little attention to you. It’s like eating out with your kids! When our group visited, we got the royal treatment. For example, everyone gets a paper hat to wear when they arrive (like Steak N Shake). When we were there, one of the waiters kept taking one of our girl’s hats and ripping it up. Each time she get a new one, he would walk by, take it, and tear it up.
The most memorable part of lunch for me was our waiter, Reggie. He was very quick on his feet and could keep up verbally with our rowdy bunch. But I could also tell he was a really nice guy – and a great dancer. I can still remember our lunch at Ed’s to this day and Reggie was a big part of that (he even complimented me on my choice of the Chinese Chicken Salad). He was awesome! That day has been a defining moment for my time here in Chicago and when I think of it, I always think of Reggie. I have been to Ed’s several times since then, but have never seen Reggie again.
Fast-forward to today. I was driving to church this morning and thinking about that visit and our lunch at Ed’s. I was also thinking through the coming morning and hoping I would get to see Scott and Amy Breiler, a new couple to our church with two adorable boys, Campbell and Cooper. Amy and I have been exchanging emails this past week because she and Scott would like to have their youngest son, Cooper, dedicated. So the Breilers were on my mind. That’s when the brainstorm hit!
Later that morning, I saw Scott and Amy come into the sanctuary. I greeted them and their boys and then this conversation took place:
Me: Scott, I’ve been meaning to ask you were you work.
Scott: Actually, I’m in the restaurant industry.
Me (with growing excitement): Any chance you’ve ever worked at Ed Debevic’s?
Scott: Actually, that’s where I work.
Me (barely able to contain myself): Really? I think you waited on me once.
Scott (perplexed): Really?
Me (virtually shouting in this poor man’s face): REGGIE!!!!
Scott (taking a step back from me and sounding like I’d just outed him as a Sesame Street-hating cannibal who doesn’t recycle): Oh my gosh, how do you know that?
I went on to tell him the story about our visit and how much I enjoyed and remembered “Reggie.” Scott confirmed that he was indeed Reggie and was most concerned about whether or not he was mean to me. I said, “Yes, you were. That’s what made it so fun!”
I’m not sure why, but I can’t stop thinking about this connection. Of all the people, of all the restaurants, of all the congregations, the man who I so vividly remember has ended up attending our church. What makes it even better is that he and his family are an absolute joy to be around. And Scott isn’t nearly as mean as “Reggie,” but he’s just as funny.
I just had to share this story as an example of the joy of serendipity. I believe God led the Breilers to our church for many reasons, but whether it was God-ordained or just coincidence, I got a big smile or reconnecting with “Reggie” today.