I have not heard from this particular (former) friend in some time. He and I first met back around 1986-7 at pioneer school in his hometown. We were both young MS's with dreams of Bethel. During the two weeks of pioneer school, we found we had a common interest in jazz, blues and good food. Almost immediately after pioneer school, he was accepted into Bethel. he was probably around 20 at the time. He has spent, essentially, his entire adult life at Bethel, first at Brooklyn, then a few years ago was transferred out to Walkill (I no longer call it "The Farm" as there is not a lot of farming happening anymore, other than the raising of bull$hit on the printing presses, but I digress).
As I mentioned, I haven't heard from him...probably at least 2 years...the time that I have been away from JW meetings. He called me to let me know about a prominent circuit elder that died in this circuit. I was saddened to hear that because I thought this elder was, for an elder at least, a decent guy. He was on the assembly hall committee and a substitute CO. Retired, pioneering.
Of course, after discussing that for a few minutes, he wants to know what is going on with me. Apparently he has not heard that I am no longer active. Hmmm... that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy...my name is not being brought up in conversations....just the way I like it.
I let him know I am engaged. He congratulates me, then asks the question... you know it..... wait for it...wait....
"What congregation is she in?"
HellO!.... Not, what is her name, what does she look like, where did you meet her...but What FREAKING CONGREGATION IS SHE IN?
le sigh. Snakes: "She is not in any...I didn't meet her at a KH or assembly...I met her at the cafe in town... oh...by the way, you did hear I haven't been to a meeting in over 2 years, right?" BethelLifer™: "no...i am soooo sorry to hear it...can I ask why not?"
Now, at this point, I could be honest, as my fiancee is always telling me to be ("um...it's utter BS.") ...or....knowing I am talking to a BetheLifer™, say "well, I am not DF, but there are things right now that I cannot go along with." yeah yeah, I know...weasel way out.
You see, what difference does it make? Over the 20 years of our "friendship" all we ever did was talk about JW stuff, with a sprinking of other interests. When he came to town, it was always for a DC. I would drive 90 minutes to visit him and attend part of their DC ...afterwards going to his parents house and eating dinner. Other than that....it was pretty hollow.
Knowing that I am talking to a BetheLifer™, I kinda feel bad for him. His days are 44 hours a week of drudgery at Bethel working a regular job in which he gets no pay, no Worker's Compensation, no Unemployment benefits if they suddenly lay him off reassign him to special pioneer work, he has not contributed a dime to Social Security since 1987 (the last time he held a secular job), no retirement, no pension, no health insurance...nothing. He may be one of the lucky ones...Bethell sent him to school for more training on electronics repair...so he may have a shot in hell at a half way decent job when they lay his sorry ass off at age 45-50..right before he is too old and sick to be of use to the Society any more.
BetheLifer's™ tone of voice changed when I told him I don't go and don't plan on going back. He sounded sad, depressed. I, on the other hand, sounded upbeat, happy, not depressed...probably for the first time since he knew me. I said to BetheLifer™, "BL, I am sorry to throw a wet blanket on you like that...I thought you knew.... " He hadn't heard....so what was supposed to be a mere phone call letting me know about someone we knew having died, it turned into this revelation about his old pioneer buddy being inactive and not going back to the KH.
I figure BetheLifer™ will tell his pioneer/elder dad back home, next month at the pioneer meeting his dad will relate it to a pioneer we all knew, she will tell her sister who was in my old congo, she will relate it to the PO COBOE, who will tell his elder/secretary dad (JackAss...my old nemesis)...and he will go nosing around...at least, that is the way that grape vine usually worked before... heh heh
I figure by then that I will have the Haloween decorations on the front porch. LOL
There you go.... I don't know or care where the conversation with BetheLifer™ goes next...it is not my life anymore. I exchanged it for a new one.
Snakes (Rich )