Fair warning, I’m a bit rusty…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I had a rough winter, folks. Just one of those very difficult emotional times for me where I get stuck in my own head and hoard unhelpful thoughts. And then, even after the fog cleared, trepidation remained. There was a feeling of wanting to write, but being afraid that doing so would open Pandora’s box.

It’s like when you break a leg. Months of crutching around babying your injury teach you to continue babying it well after the x-rays prove you’re all patched up, just in case you push too hard too fast and end up right back on the crutch.

I fully believe all creative people have some kind of love/hate relationship with the overactive emotions which lead to creativity in the first place.

I’m good. I’ve been good for a little while. I was just afraid that putting things into writing and making them real might cause my mental sciatica to flare up again.

*cleansing sigh* There. That feels better!

Now that we’ve gotten that bullshit out of the way, I’m going to piss some of you off.

…I mean, I hope I don’t. I hope you’ll listen to what I’m actually saying instead of half-hearing a few of the particulars. I hope that even if you don’t agree with me, you come to an understanding of my point of view.

“Um, Bethie? This sounds like you’re about to talk about politics.”

WHAT? Politics as the topic of my first post in months?? That would be monumentally stupid. Sheesh. I’m rusty, but I’m not a newb.

“Phew. Because I was about to hit the warning button.”

No, I’m just going to talk about religion.

“…uh oh…”

You still have that button, though, huh? Sweet. Put it away for now. It’s completely unnecessary for the kind of mild, civil conversations people love to have about religions.

Say, do you still happen to have that sarcasm squeegie as well? Because it’s dripping off my screen pretty bad at the moment.

Something happened at work yesterday that really made me angry. And while I do not have a platform at work, with the customer, I do have a small platform here. I’ll get to why I’m actually writing this later. First, the story.

I made a cake for a customer.

“HOW DARE YOU!!??”

Whoa now, Trigger. We’re not at the controversial part yet. Calm down.

I made a cake for a customer, and when she came to pick it up, it cost less than she was quoted by one of my coworkers. She said, “That’s wonderful because my wallet loves to clamp down tight and keep money inside!”

I said, “Really? Because it seems like my wallet can’t wait to get rid of money as soon as it gets some in it!”

It was a joke, lighthearted banter between purveyor of cakes and willing consumer. Not my best, but in the moment it felt like a decent exchange. I expected maybe a titter, perhaps a forced chuckle before we wished each other a good day and moved on with our lives. That’s how customer interactions are supposed to work. That’s capitalism, guys. That’s what we’re promised under the waving banner of red, white, and blue. They want a thing, I give them the thing, we exchange hollow pleasantries, and it’s done. Badabing, on to the next.

Folks, she did not chuckle. Instead, she got very, very serious and intense. She said, “I’m going to share an experience with you that will change your life and get rid of your worries about money. You need to stop thinking you can control any of it and you need to put your finances in the hands of the lord.”

This is the point in a conversation where I scramble to come up with an exit strategy. In my personal life off the company’s dime I might engage a bit, ask a few questions. But I wasn’t in my personal life. I was standing there, purveyor and customer, working for a corporation that would absolutely 100% not tolerate me saying anything but, “Oh. I’m glad that worked for you.” So that’s what I said. I figured that combined with my clear discomfort would nicely close out the conversation.

If that’s what happened, I wouldn’t be writing this. If the lady realized I was at work, on the clock, not free to discuss my thoughts on religion or specific tenets, said something like, “Me too! You have a good day now!” and left, we would not be sitting here together with at least one of us getting angry again just thinking about the interaction.

Instead of taking the social cue, she kept talking. “My husband had a kidney transplant. It left us with medical bills you cannot imagine. You have no idea what that type of medical procedure can cost. None at all.”

I’m trying to think of how I can adequately explain the way this woman was just preaching her script. It was as if she was reading the testimonies off one of those recruitment pamphlets. As soon as she said her husband had a kidney transplant, I said, “I’m so sorry. Is he better now?” Instead of answering or even acknowledging that the other person involved in this “conversation” spoke, she just plowed ahead.

I couldn’t help myself from interrupting again when she asserted that I couldn’t possibly understand a very expensive medical situation. I said, “Oh, I get it. My son had cancer and a stem cell transplant. I understand high medical bills.”

That stopped her…but not in the way one might expect. She said, “But we had to pay for the donor’s medical, too. Did you have to do that? I don’t think so, so you can’t understand.”

Right there, she proved this was not about me. It was about her. It was not about helping me, it was about her saying her peace.

And then she went right back into the script. She started talking about how broke they were, how there was no way out, how they were scraping by and yada yada. Then she says, “So I got down on my knees and opened my book and asked the lord to take care of my financial problems. And from that moment on, it was like a whole new world opened up to me.”

I said, “I’m very glad that worked for you. I’m not really in a financial pit. I was just joking about the wallet. Really, I’m not stressed or worried. Can I help you get your cake in the cart?”

She said, “But you are worried and you should be worried with those bills hanging over you! Don’t you see that you’re in a cycle that will never change until you open yourself up to god and let him guide you?”

I said, “Thanks, but honestly, I’m good.”

Once again, she just reverted to script. “I got down on my knees and I put my money in god’s hands and you can’t believe what a relief it was. With his guidance I was able to start setting aside a day’s pay. One day’s pay from every check, no matter what other bills needed to be paid. And you know what happened?”

Guys, if you think she paused for me to respond in any way, you haven’t been following along.

“I started a savings account with that money. It didn’t matter how broke we were, by doing that, god provided.”

She went on. At this point, I had realized it was a script and that I wasn’t going to get her out of it and only responded with “Mm,” and, “uh huh” until she wound down. It lasted about five minutes. No joke. And at the end, she gets this look on her face and says, “Oh! I don’t know what compelled me to tell you about all that!”

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Let’s be absolutely clear about the point of anger and frustration for me. I don’t give a rat’s ass what she believes. She’s completely entitled to her beliefs. I have never and will never say anything to the contrary. If she wants to think that her god made her grow up a little and stop blowing her money, then have at it, lady. If that’s what she wants to credit with her savings account, okay.

I was at work, though. I was on the clock. I was doing my job in customer service, and as such, I was an unwilling captive audience. It was not only beyond inappropriate in terms of standard socially acceptable situations to preach to me in that moment, it was frankly rude and selfish.

“But Bethie, she felt compelled by her god to have a conversation.”

No. She felt entitled to completely disregard me at every turn in what was supposed to be a human interaction. That means two people contributing to a conversation. She was not letting me contribute. She did not WANT me to contribute. She wasn’t having a conversation with me at all. She was doing what her religion has told her she has the right to do and just pushing her beliefs at me in my place of business where she knew full well I couldn’t really say anything to shut her down.

Every time I tried to politely stop the conversation, she utterly ignored me and kept right on pushing what she wanted to sell.

That’s not a way to deal with people, folks. That’s not a way to convert people. That’s not a way to get someone to listen to a new point of view. That’s just being an asshole.

I guarantee she went home and told her family that her god guided her to tell me how to fix financial woes that- once again, let me be abundantly clear- I specifically stated I did not have. I don’t have outstanding medical bills from that time. They’re all done and gone. I’m not one to be worried about money beyond being able to pay the bills and feed my kids. That’s never been a big thing to me. I am not the person she convinced herself I am, and she would have known that if she just stopped and listened.

But she didn’t.

I guarantee that she is telling everyone who’ll listen that she “preached her truth” to me and showed me the light and that her god worked through her and isn’t she just the BEST in the flock for being “brave” enough to just let the words and works flow through her and…

It vexes me, guys. It really, really does. I’m sorry, lady, but no, you did not “reach” me in any way. THAT’S why I’m saying something right now. I couldn’t speak up and say it yesterday, and there is zero chance that that particular lady will ever read this. But I can say it here, to all of you, just in case your religions have told you this is a good method of recruitment and a good way to get on in society. It’s beyond rude to preach to someone while they are working. It just is. And if you don’t think so, I’ll send a Muslim on over to your office to give you tips from allah on how you can save TWO day’s worth of pay. I’m sure you’ll have no problem with that.

Get my point?

I understand that people want to share what they feel worked for them. But there’s an appropriate time and place for preaching. That was neither. I didn’t ask for financial advice. I didn’t ask for religious advice. I made it as clear as I could while I was stuck in the confines of corporate shillery that I did not want to be preached to, and my wishes were summarily ignored.

I’m writing this because so many religions have told their adherents that this behavior is okay. It’s not. It’s just not, guys. This is not how to make friends and influence people in a mixed society. I would never, ever go to someone’s place of business and try to get them to question their beliefs. Never. If you have done this to other people, here is an inside look at how you’re coming off to the people you convinced yourself you’re reaching. It’s a dick move. Don’t do it.

…see? No need to be angry. I wasn’t blasting the ideas. I could counter them, and this particular forum WOULD be an appropriate place. But that’s not what this is about. That’s not what made me angry. It’s not about the ideas. It’s about personal behavior and crossing the boundaries of civil interaction. I don’t care if it’s a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Hini, or a Jew, or a Jainism monk. I don’t care if they’re telling me that God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Vishnu will help my financial future. This is offensive as a situation, independent of the ideas the person is conveying.

If you feel angry or defensive right now, just think about it. That’s all I’m asking. Think about how you’re being seen from the other side of the coin. Think about how you’d feel in the other person’s shoes. That “doing unto others” bit is a very good piece of advice, no matter who said it.

Thus concludes a not at all controversial, extremely boring and mundane Musing for Sunday, June 2, 2019. I have so many cars to fix and a house to paint and a lawn to mow and a hoard to unload and… Mental ennui takes a toll across the board. At least I’ve got some terrible coffee to kick me in gear…