Does anyone remebr the "Rooming Work"

by exwhyzee 32 Replies latest jw friends

  • exwhyzee

    When a convention was to be held in your City and it was believed there weren't enough hotel rooms available or at least affordable ones, the Witnesses living in that city were asked to go out into the territory and ask people if they had a room or rooms someone attending the convention could use. You could report your time doing this as part of your ministry. I could never bring myself (14 or 15) to do just seemed too weird for a kid to go to a house and ask the householder for a room but many kids in the hall did this. I was always suprised when I'd hear how many "worldly" people did offer rooms for free . After all we were told that Satan had blinded their minds to the truth and that they were being manipulated to thwart our beliefs yet we were willing to risk it and stay in their hoses when it suited us. I was always impressed when so many offered to have complete strangers into their home so they could attend the convention.

    During the big recession of the late 70's my Dad, who wasn't a Witness but did study and attend meetings occasionally, had been laid of from his regular job. The P.O. of our hall asked him to fill in doing janitor work for Some of the Bros. who would be at the assembly. My mom was angry because he was going to attend the convention until this opportunity came along. He had 4 kids to support and was very worried about making ends meet. We took advantage of one of these free rooms as we didn't have any extra to money to spend on a hotel room. My mother didn't drive so we got a ride to the convention city with someone from our hall. By the time we were dropped off at the free room it was at about 9PM. A very old lady answered the door and seemed unclear about why we were there but she let us in anyway. The house smelled of cigarette smoke and was pretty cluttered. I couldn't tell if the old lady was nutty or just old. It didn't matter now because we were stuck there for the night as the people we came with had driven away and headed for their hotel. It turned out the only place to sleep on the nasty old couches in her living room where she had been sitting smoking and watching TV. We had sleeping bags which so at least we didn't have to come in contact with the couches too much. We waited politely for her to go to bed which but it was getting on toward midnight and it appeared she wasn't going anywhere. As time went on it became more obvious that she was bonkers. She was talking to the TV and mentioned to us kids that she would show us the possum that she kept in her basement. My 2 younger sisters 8 and 3) who were wearing a dresses realized that their bare legs were being bitten by fleas and one sister being somewhat asthmatic was having a hard time breathing because of the smoke and pet dander.(cats....of course)

    Long story short. My mom called every hotel in town hoping to find someone from our hall to come rescue us. Finally someone from a local congregation got wind of our plight and brought us to their house where we spent the night sleeping on lawn chairs in their back yard. The next day I remember being embarrased at waking up and seeing that these Witnesses had kids and a girl my age . Being in this situation was embarrasing enough but now we had to crowd in with their family in order to get washed and dressed for the assembly. That day was pure hell. It was in the 80's and my brother and I had to sit in our jackets and ties on bleachers in the hot sun from 9am to 9pm. listening to scarey talk after talk about the "End of the System" and Armegeddon. Looking back I realize that I had developed a way to tune out of my surroundings as a way of coping. I could go to far away places in my mind while still hearing enough of the talk to be able to answer the pop quizzes we'd get later.

  • exwhyzee

    As I read my above comment back I see the grammatical errors I've made but mostly I realize how sad I am about the years of my life that were spent zoning out in order to cope with the nutty situations I was placed in due to the unrealistic expectations and beliefs of this religion.

  • Scarred for life
    Scarred for life

    Yes, I remember the rooming work somewhat. We never needed to stay in free rooms but my memory is that we were all highly encouraged to book our motels and hotels through the rooming department rather than reserve rooms individually.

    We went to a convention one year in the 1960s in St Petersburg, FL. This was supposed to be a combination vacation/visit a relative/ convention type trip. My father booked a motel through ROOMING. I don't remember too much about it except that it did not have air conditioning. This was South Florida in the summer. My father was livid. The motel was old, run down, dirty. It seems like there might have been fleas. And it was just unsafe. He found the whole place completely unacceptable and we only stayed there one night. We found other accomodations ourselves.

    I don't remember ever doing rooming work. I was not even aware that they went door-to-door asking for rooms for JWs to stay in. I think I must have been too young for that.

    The only convention I ever recall having in Charlotte was around 1969. We had a carload of relatives from Anderson, SC staying at our house. It was hard for all of us to get up and showered and to the coliseum by 9AM. That's all I remember. I don't remember it being much fun.

  • snowbird

    I heard about it.



  • VoidEater

    When we went to Nevada in the 60's for a DC I seem to recall my parents deciding to stay at a hotel instead of a "rooming work" hotel...

  • JediMaster

    I've read and heard about it, but didn't realize it was that poorly organized. Sound the kind of situation where it could have turned out either totally hilarious or completely horrible. Sorry it was the latter for you.


  • Jim_TX

    Yeah, I remember the 'rooming work' as a youngster. I remember one year, they had a District Convention here locally (I think). They turned the KH I attended with my mom and siblings into a 'headquarters' for all of the work that they did locally. I remember the District Overseer came to town along with the C.O. It was a big deal. (Lots of a-kissing) They had all sorts of desks and phone systems in the KH, having moved the temporary chairs out of the way.

    We lived here locally, so we didn't have to use the 'rooming' or stay in anyone's home.

    I remember several years when we did, though. Usually in far away cities where we knew no one, and had to rely on their getting decent places for us to stay. As I recall, my mom always had to pay the homeowner, but it was a lot less than if we stayed in a motel.(Kansas City, MO was in a basement. The bathtub was in the middle of the basement with just a shower curtain around it. My mom made us 'boys' look away, or something when my older sisters had to take their showers. Sheesh! No privacy.)

    As we got older though, or the last one or two conventions that I remember going to, my mom just stayed at motels.

    I remember in the late 70's, I had left home, and friends that I knew were getting rooms for a big blowout 'International' convention to be held in Houston, TX at the Astrodome, which is no more (1978?). They went through rooming and got some sort of accomodations. I was getting there first, and was to get the rooms, and set up 'camp' prior to their arrival. I got the room, if I recall correctly, it was in some sort of apartment complex. I got to the room, and went inside.

    It appeared that the previous occupant had left in a hurry (probably skipping out on a few months' rent, too). It was a lady, and she must have been some sort of nurse, as there was clothing in the closets that indicated this. She had also left lots of other things, including meat in the kitchen sink. The toilets were nasty (nuff said). I started trying to clean up, as I knew that I had only a few hours before the rest of the group would get there. It was hopeless. I had no cleaning utensils, and finally realized I had better go back downstairs and request a different room before they were all gone (except for this one).

    I did so, and 'whew' they had another room that they re-assigned to me, and the others. I then needed to call the rest of the group to let them know that the apartment number had changed. I dialed long-distance (this was B.C. - before cellphones) collect. Karl picked up the phone here at home, and the operator asked him if he would accept the charges. He said 'No.' and hung up on me!!!!!

    I was devasted. What should I do? Call again? What if I got the same operator, and she got mad at me? Why did Karl not accept the call? Arrrrggghhhh!!!!

    So, I got a sheet of paper, and wrote a note on it and taped it to the door of the previously assigned apartment. I said that the new room number was xxx.

    It was very late by this time, and I was tired, so I went to bed. A few hours later, they straggled in, found the note and came to the new apartment.

    They had brought an older 'sister' with them, and there were no beds. I was sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag on top of a 2-inch foam rubber mattress. I gave up the foam rubber mattress so this dear older lady wouldn't have to sleep on the floor.

    Oh. I also recall asking Karl why he didn't accept my collect call. He said something about just thinking that I was calling to let them know I got there safely. His wife though was chastizing him for not accepting the call. hahahahaha

    Anyway... that's my 'rooming' story.

    Those were the days.


    Jim TX


    Hi exwhyzee,

    I see you are quite new to the welcome! Good people here, eh? ...Yup, I'm Canadian!

    I remember the Rooming thingy. I was very young, and remember that my dad applied for our large family with about five or six kids (at the time). But because he refused to answer one question on the application form, they refused to help us. It was kind of a "discriminatory" question, and my dad took exception to it. I remember my dad being very upset by the arrogant way he was treated. Anyway, we went without rooming. Our whole family slept in our 1/2 ton truck on a country road. Two in the front seat and the rest of us sandwiched into the back of the truck. We parked off the Trans-Canada highway and listened to the long trains going past all night long..toooot-toooot. I hardly slept. I was about ten years old at the time, but I remember clearly this event.

    But your story beats mine by a country mile. If I had to sleep in a smokey environment, I would have had a migraine headache the next day. I can't tolerate smoke.

    And, on top of that, FLEAS????? That is just tooooooicky...

    Yup, Jehoover shuuuuuure takes care of his people...



  • snowbird

    I love reading these stories!


  • ShirleyW

    Yeah, I remember that, in NYC I distincly remember going door to door in the 60's with my mom, but instead of selling the rags, the question was do they have space to put up a family for the assembly. Does anyone else remember the kickoff meeting (think that's what they called it) at Yankee Stadium, that laid out the rules or whatever about going door to door asking for lodging?

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