Lemons and Lemonade

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, March 30, 2022

We’ve all experienced “sticker shock,” especially in this last year. It seems like only yesterday that the gasoline price at my usual filling station was $4.29. Thankfully, the price has come down a little. Not much, but thank God for small favors! I was in Thomasville a few days ago and received a big dose of sticker shock.

I’ve loved poolroom chilidogs ever since I had my first in Pelham, Georgia, at Bobby Bass’ poolroom on Main Street. It wasn’t the greatest environment for a teenager, but a good excuse for going in was to get a chilidog and an ice cold Co-cola in the small bottle.

The Thomasville poolroom has a good chilidog and a walk-up window. For a while, now, when I would go to Thomasville, I would carry a small plastic food container and ask them to put a couple of ladle dips in and I would carry it home and have poolroom chilidogs anytime I wanted.

This time I had a half-pint container and asked the man at the window to put in a scoop. He did and turned to the owner of the poolroom and asked how much to charge. The owner told him, then he said to me, “$7.00.”

For one time in my life, I didn’t know what to say. I was stunned and I’m sure it was easy to see on my face. At first, I thought about telling him to empty the scoop back into the big pot and give me back my container.

The owner was a young man and saw my surprise. He said, “If you knew how much ground beef is costing these days, you would understand.” He wasn’t angry at my response and I felt sorry for him. It must be very difficult for food service businesses to balance the inflated cost of their raw products and the prices that the public will or can pay.

I quickly understood his predicament and put myself in his shoes. I accepted the price that I was asked to pay and didn’t want to be rude and refuse the chili, so I apologized for my reaction to the high price. I realized that all of us are in these difficult times together. I found a way to smile at the owner, held up my container, and said, “Money well spent.” I kept it to myself that I won’t buy a $7.00 half-pint of chili again.

I’m pretty sure the owner of that poolroom didn’t want to charge me $7.00 for a half-pint of chili, but he’s got rent and employees to pay. Gasoline prices are no different for him than they are for me. The experience made me think more empathetically for businesses.

The times, they are a-changing the song says and we don’t know, yet, just how much the times are going to change. It’s more important now, than ever, that we think kindly towards one another. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

There may be businesses that take advantage of difficult times. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Shame on businesses that do that. At the same time, I believe that most business people are like that owner of the Thomasville poolroom; caught between a rock and the hard place.

We have been spoiled in many ways. We like what we want when we want it and we like it cheap. There’s nothing wrong with that except that real life is not like that. Real life includes bad times and good; lemons and lemonade. Here’s to hoping and praying that we can, at least, afford the sugar!