• 48°

Talking about the competition at Bubba-Doo’s

By Charles Qualls

If you’ve ever stepped into a place and gotten the feeling there were two or three people laying low for you, this was the vibe that met me the other day. I stopped by my favorite country store, Bubba-Doo’s. I’d always enjoyed the place, because it reminded me of my Dad’s country store. But my love for it grew one day when I finally tried their self-proclaimed “world famous” hamburger.

This visit was a little earlier in the day, so there was more coffee in their hands than burgers as I joined the group. The regulars were convened that morning, and they are always nice enough to include me on my sporadic visits.

“There’s the preacher,” Stumpy called out. Mickey said, “C’mon Stumpy, you know he don’t like to be called that.” It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it. It’s just that the people at my church call me by my name, Charles. Or, Dr. Qualls if they must. No pastor, preacher or “Brother,” please.

“We were wishing you’d have been here the other day. That young feller from the groovy church was in here,” Ralph said. “You know, the one who looks like he was picked a little green. Fancy hair, tight jeans and an accent that don’t seem like it’s from any part of the country I’ve ever been to.”

Ed chimed in, “Yeah…he talks like a broadcaster all the time. I thought he’d started preach’n, but it turned out he was just asking what row they keep the chips and the Fanta Orange on. While I was showing him, he mentioned something about being on his way back already from a men’s coffee gathering.”

Ralph said, “Did you glance at your watch when he said that? It wasn’t but 7:30 in the morning. Why do them fellers seem to think that getting there before Jesus wakes up is a show of their faith?”

“Way I figure it, the Lord might appreciate getting to sleep in every once in a while. And their wives might appreciate them helping to get the kids off to school, too!” Ed added.

“So are you guys friends? I mean I know y’all are sort of competitors,” one of them asked me.

I had to think about that one. Then I offered, “Well, I’m supposed to say that there’s no competition among lighthouses. Besides, he’s kinda over in the next community. But really, when you get down to it we’re pretty different from each other. And it’s not just all the music and flashy stuff. Once you get past Jesus, we believe some things pretty differently.”

“So, what’s the difference?” someone asked. “Well,” I stumbled, “they do what they do and we do what we do. He’s a nice enough guy.”

“But do y’all get along?” Mickey wondered aloud. “Yeah, of course we get along. I’m serious. He’s a good guy. But we don’t have as much in common as my church members probably think we do. I’d say our theology may be as different as our styles.”

“So…who’s getting it right?” Eugene called out from where he’d been taking all this in.

“Hey, Gene! I didn’t even see you over there. Man, that’s a loaded question,” I said. “Well, take a swing at it anyway,” Gene prodded.

“I’d like to think either of us gets things right if people find a welcome place among us,” I started. “I’d like to think either of us gets things right if we find a deep need in our community and meet it. We’re at our best when what we do matters in the world right around us. I’d like to think we’re getting it right when someone is weighed down and we help them carry it somehow. If they’re discouraged and they find hope in our places, I’d pray that God is happy.”

“So, maybe a tie ballgame?” Ralph summarized.

“You know, I’m content for each of us to stay in our lanes. Just because we’re both offering Jesus, there’s no need to try to pretend we’re completely alike. We’ll let God sort all that out someday. How’s that? Besides, I wouldn’t look too good in skinny jeans. It’d be like a mid-life crisis gone bad.”

“Roger that,” Mickey snickered. “All right guys, I’m out of here. Y’all hold this place down ’til I can stop by again.” With that mild workout done, I left Bubba-Doo’s and headed on toward the highway, wondering as I went whether or not I got that one right.