What I Learned as a Corn Dog

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“What I Learned as a Corn Dog,” New Era, July 2006, 24–25

What I Learned as a Corn Dog

I should have relished my assignment, but instead I learned a lasting lesson.

How in the world was I going to get out of this? I was 16 years old and had my first job in the food court of a local grocery store. Pretty safe job—or so I thought—until my boss asked me to dress up as a corn dog to promote a sale we were having. A corn dog!

Next thing I knew, I was in a costume walking around the store with a basketful of candy. I couldn’t hold the basket with two hands because the corn dog suit was so huge my arms couldn’t reach around to the front. Not only that, when kids would run up to the giant corn dog to get some candy, I couldn’t look down to see how many pieces of candy they were taking. I think they caught on quickly.

I was under strict orders not to talk while in this horrible costume. So when people asked if I was a banana, I couldn’t say anything to correct them. I came up with a solution. I put a nice big sign on my front stating, “I am a corn dog!” I was already beyond humiliation. At least no one could see my face.

Around the store I walked. I’m sure the kids thought I was pretty strange—a giant, silent, walking corn dog with an empty basket. But hey, I wasn’t a banana, so it could have been worse.

Then came the cruel laughter and the jabbing kicks from behind. I turned around and saw no one.

Kick! I turned around again. No one.

Kick! Kick! I whirled around as quickly as a corn dog could manage. No one again. Now the laughter was hysterical. Kick! Kick! Kick! Why was no one coming to rescue a poor, persecuted corn dog! Couldn’t they see the kids torturing me? I was miserable. I had to get out of there! So I waddled as quickly as I could back to the food court.

It was then that I saw him. A guy I liked was standing at the counter of the food court. I could hear him asking for me. No!

Then I saw my fellow employee, a girl who I thought was my friend, point in my direction. I turned around as quickly as I could and waddled back to where I had been so rudely kicked. Somehow that seemed so much better than being approached by the guy I liked and had tried so hard to impress. I moved as quickly as I could, cutting through the aisle and making my way back to the food court from the other direction. I had to get out of this thing. Just a few more waddles and I would be there.

I struggled to pull the giant corn dog off of my body. I was so completely miserable, so completely humiliated. I couldn’t go out there again.

How long had I been in the corn dog costume? An hour? Two hours? Three? I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes! How could so much misery, so much humiliation, so much horror fit into just 20 minutes?

I saw my boss approaching me. I pleaded with her to let me be finished. Couldn’t she see how tortured I was? She informed me that if I could find a replacement then I was off the hook. Who in their right mind would actually want to do this? But it was my only hope. I had to at least ask.

I approached the girl who had previously blown my cover. I tried to act like it hadn’t been that bad. I thought if she knew what she was getting into, she’d never agree. But she did. “It’ll be fun,” she told me.

“She won’t last long,” I thought.

Three hours later, she came back smiling. I couldn’t believe it. She actually enjoyed being a corn dog. I didn’t think it was possible.

I learned something valuable that day. I learned that we can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be unhappy. We were in the same situation, and she chose to enjoy it. I could have done that too. I could have laughed along with everyone else. I could have seen the humor in the situation and had an enjoyable time. Instead I chose to be miserable.

It’s the same thing with life. Our circumstances don’t choose for us. We choose. Even in the midst of challenging school assignments, lack of friends, chronic illness, or parents divorcing, we can choose to turn to Heavenly Father and discover that we can still find peace, even joy, in this life. I learned that day that choosing to be cheerful is much more enjoyable, even for a corn dog.

Illustrated by Richard Hull