Shopping for Crack Pipes

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
Matthew 5:13 The Message

This morning I walked into three randomly selected convenience stores in our community with a simple request. “I’d like to buy a crack pipe.”

The three clerks responded similarly.

“What? Really?”

“No way. Please, no.”

“Uhh . . . I don’t think we have any, we must have sold them all.”

Despite their reactions, they knew exactly what I meant.

I smiled and gently repeated my request: “Come on, I’d like to buy a crack pipe.”

All three clerks reluctantly turned to the “Love Roses” display, pulled out a glass tube, and told me how much it cost. The prices varied from store to store — $.99, $2.19, and $2.99.

It was striking – none of the clerks wanted to sell me the pipe. All were relieved when I told them I really didn’t want to buy the crack pipe, I was just seeing where they were available so I could encourage store owners and managers not to sell them. The clerks were outspoken about their desire for the stores to stop selling the drug paraphernalia. The three women eagerly wrote down the name of the store owner and urged me to please call them and ask them not to sell the pipes which have only one actual use – the smoking of crack, methamphetamine, or pot.

One clerk admitted when she and another employee are working the same shift they will hide the “Love Roses” display so they don’t have to sell them. “We don’t want to attract those people to this store. I get scared when they come in. I’m afraid for my life. But please don’t tell the owner I said that.”

Next time you are in a convenience store (especially one of those at a gas station) look around for a display of “Love Roses” or ask the clerk if they sell them. If they do, find out whom you can encourage to discontinue their sale. And when we do so let’s try not to come across like arrogant, holier-than-thou zealots (with a situation this serious, it would be very easy to do so). The best approach is described with words like gentleness, kindness, humility and love.

I hope the Tennessee legislature will consider banning the sale of crack pipes (“Love Roses”) as an amendment to the methamphetamine bill currently being considered.

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