I’ve waited a while to tell this, so the host pastor would not put two and two together and a) be embarrassed or b) feel he should march into his local Wal-Mart and confront someone.
I was doing a senior adult revival in a wonderful church in a small Alabama city. Late that afternoon, on my way to the church I saw I was a little early, so stopped by the lccal Wal-Mart to pick up a sketch pad. They have great pads at a reasonable price and I always try to have a couple of extras on hand.
As I neared the checkout stations, I noticed none of the ladies had a single customer. I made some little remark about “which one shall I go to” and then one of them checked me out. Still no customers anywhere near, so as I often do, I said to the checker in front of me, “Hey, smile at me and I’ll sketch you.” It takes a minute or so. “Draw me,” the next one said. I had time, so kept on drawing.
I was on the third or fourth one when a woman walked up. “Sir, you’re not allowed to do that.”
I said, “I’m not allowed to sketch them? I’m not taking them away from their work, and I’m giving them a nice little gift.”
“You’re not allowed to take pictures of the employees,” she said sternly.
I said, “Ma’am, I’m not taking their pictures. I’m drawing them–and I’m giving them the sketch.”
“It’s against the rules and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
I said, “Are you serious?” I wasn’t being belligerent or anything, just incredulous.
At this point the woman’s superior, a manager of something I assume, walked up and saw what was happening. “Sir,” she said, “You are violating Wal-mart’s policy about taking pictures of the employees and we need to ask you to leave.”
I could not resist one last word. “Ma’am, I’ve drawn people in Wal-Mart all over the country. And you are the first one to ever kick me out for doing nothing but blessing your employees.”
And I left.
You’ll be proud of me for knowing I did not mention that to the host pastor and did not work it into my sermon that night. That would have been juvenile and served no purpose. I didn’t want to cause a flap and realized it was indeed possible I was out of line.
What started me thinking about that was something a friend in Georgia wrote recently. David Chancey has written about the time he was asked to leave a Methodist church. And to complicate it, he was there to see Dolly Parton.
David pastors a Southern Baptist Church and was calling on a church family when he noticed a crowd of people gathered at the nearby UMC Church. But it wasn’t a funeral. “They’re making a movie,” he was told. “Dolly Parton is in it.”
“We saw her walk by here a few minutes ago,” someone in the home told Pastor David, “and we all went over and had our picture made with her.”
“You ought to do it, Preacher.”
So, David walked over, entered the church, and saw Dolly Parton herself seated in a pew. Shall I walk over or not, he wondered. So he asked someone. They said, “That’s her bodyguard beside her. Ask him.”
About the time David was getting up the nerve to walk up to the guard and ask if he could greet Miss Parton, a woman stepped over to him and said in her most official voice, “Sir, this is a closed set and I will have to ask you to leave.”
Thus, he was kicked out of a United Methodist Church. And he did not get to meet Dolly Parton.
David said, “But I was okay with that. She’s a nice person, from all I hear, and she does a lot of great work.”
I’m just wondering if the lady who kicked him out used to work for Wal-Mart in Albertville, Alabama.