The Importance of Tone

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 WEB

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Midway between the Ridgecrest Conference Center, where I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference,  and Banner Elk, where I would reunite with my husband and dog, is a small restaurant in a small settlement of about 200 residents.  You come to this small restaurant after you climb the mountain, go under a stone bridge and round the curve with the sheep pasture on the right.

The special on Thursdays is fried chicken livers.

Last Thursday, my husband and I drove 40 minutes there for one of our favorite mountain meals.  We looked forward to it for days.  A few minutes after we placed our order, they told us they were out.  No more chicken livers.  I suspected the large church party in the back dining room had something to do with that.

Not to worry!  I could get some the following Thursday when I came by the restaurant on my way back from the conference.  It was a perfect plan.  I would pick up dinners to go, bring them back to the cabin and enjoy a cozy, relaxed dinner with my little family.  Four days of relentless rain made that prospect even more inviting.

The anticipation increased the closer I got to the restaurant.  It was 3:00 in the afternoon when I arrived, so the parking lot was almost empty.  Good, I wouldn’t have to wait long.  I would order the dinners and be on my way.

I approached the counter and told the gentleman at the counter I wanted to place a to go order.  “Fine,” he said.  I asked him if they had chicken livers.  He asked the cook who was standing with her back to us and this was her reply:

“not until 4:00, we haven’t even turned on the fryer yet, you’ll have to come back later”

Seriously?  The sign says chicken livers on Thursdays, not Thursday nights, I thought rather than said.

How you say something matters.  The disappointing news would have been easier to take if the cook had said: “Oh, I’m so sorry, our fryer is not heated up yet.  Is there any way you could come back at 4:00?  We could have them ready for you then.”

I didn’t get my cozy, chicken liver dinner in the cabin, but, I did get to enjoy a meal with my husband after four nights apart.  It was his favorite — BBQ along with delicious fresh butter beans.  More important, I did not allow the harsh word of the cook to stir up anger in me.

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