Gospel on Display... at Home Depot
"You cost the company $1,200." The words stung. I was shocked. "I'm undone!" (read fired!) He wasn't angry. The Assistant Manager didn't even seem annoyed as he calmly pointed out that some flooring had conflicting price tags. The display showed a lower price, while the right price on the shelf was higher. Guess which one the costumer saw. Your humble Bay Integrity Associate (that's HD lingo for stock boy) had blown it again! I knew better. How could I have let that happen? I worked on through the next few hours waiting for the next shoe to drop.
That's the flooring department manager (not her real name). Understand that there's a friendly bragging-rights competition for sales between the various departments. So my screw-up would have put flooring at risk of loosing those coveted rights. I was not looking forward to my next encounter with Beth.
Back-story: Nearly a year ago, when I was a newbie annoying everybody with my silly questions, I approached Beth asking for her help finding a product for which my printer had spit out a price tag. She had just gotten back from a few days off and was working through a pile of papers. This was no time to interrupt. I got "the look". Now I'm an experienced recipient of "the look." I've gotten it from my mother, my wife, my daughters; from every secretary I've had and, now, even from my six year old granddaughter. Only women shoot "the look," never gotten it from a man. "The look" does what no words can do. It communicates surprise, disgust, irritation and dismissal, all at once and in an instant. It makes you feel like slinking away to self-destroy in some dark corner. In my case, the box compactor back in receiving came to mind. This took place over nine months ago. Since then, I've developed a fondness for Beth. She knows her stuff and she may even like me. Haven't gotten "the look" lately.
So I spot Beth at her desk. Fortunately there are no customers around her (a rare thing). She greeted me warmly. "How's my favorite BIA?" (See? I guess she does like me) "Not for long," I said weakly. "What's up?" "I'm really sorry about costing your department all that money." I was trying to be contrite and dignified at the same time. My eyes widened as I heard her say, "Frank! It's called 'being human'. We all make mistakes." I couldn't have asked for a more understanding response.
Still waiting for the other shoe
I felt better. But there was someone else to talk to, my immediate supervisor. We'll call him Rick. He's an unflappable dependable work horse. He comes across a little gruff sometimes, but under it all he shows a really caring attitude. Rick has a habit of randomly checking bays to see if I've missed any "outs" (a spot on a shelf where there is a price tag but no product). One day last week he asked, "Did you get this bay?" "Sure did!" Could feel my chest swell with confidence. "So what's this?" He found one I'd missed. So we rounded the corner to another bay. "Get this one?" "You bet! A little less confidently this time. "And this?" I spotted an "out" as big as a bus! He grinned, "Bad day?"
Rick is easy to talk to. I knew I'd get it straight from him. Well, he hadn't heard of my screw-up. Like, Beth, he shrugged it off as something anyone could have done. So I asked, "They'll take the $1,200 out of my salary?" I was hoping they'd do it over time, not all at once. "No, we don't do that", he assured me with a slightly amused look.
What? Home Depot eats the cost of my screw-up? HD becomes a little poorer that I might become a little richer? HD became a fool so I could look good? Apparently, that's the policy. It works too. This is a mistake I'll never make again. Not only have my synapses tightened around the issue, my loyalty to the company shot up a few notches. It's good business practice. Any wonder my store rates first in our district?
Confused about the gospel? Gotta read this!
It's good Gospel too
The Gospel tells us that Jesus who was rich became poor that believers who are poor may become rich. In another place it tells us that He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. This is the grand transaction announced in the gospel. God doesn't charge against us our misdeeds. He's willing to take the consequence upon himself as did Home Depot for me.
Of course every analogy eventually breaks down. Home Depot was out a mere $1,200. My sin cost God the life of his dear Son. No comparison!
More Gospel at Home Depot
This final paragraph is being added over a year after the original was published. A few months ago, the store manager called me to announce that my BIA position would go away. Corporate had decided that my tasks would be done by another team and that my expert services would no longer be needed. But get this. "The job's going away, but you are not. I'm going to do everything I can do to find you suitable employment in this store."
The store manager showed that he valued me more than the job I did for Home Depot. Of course I was elated and, I have to admit, somewhat surprised. So I've just finished my first week as the voice of Home Depot. If you call on a weekday between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., I'll be the friendly voice you hear, "Thank you for calling Home Depot. This is Frank. How may I direct your call?" I have a couple of other jobs up front as well, but this is the one I enjoy, especially when someone who has heard me preach for years calls and is dumbfounded to hear the familiar voice.
So where's the gospel? The Scriptures teach that it is by grace that believers are saved, not by works. There is no performance I can offer that will endear me more to God than I am already in Christ. My manager unwittingly modeled that when he announced, "Your job is going away, but not you."