Best Bethel stories
I temped at Bethel 3 times for varying lengths of time and found working there to not always be the rosy picture some would paint. Not a surprise really, but I think one of the things that surprised me the most was how a lot of the permanent bethelites (especially older ones) were so impersonal to temps. They acted like you weren't worth investing their time in since you weren't permanent. Also there a bunch of germophobes there to the Nth degree. I was privately counseled for just doing little things like scratching my nose, smoothing my eye brow, little things like that at the dinner table for morning worship. Had a bunch of old people at my table who could really give a crap that I was there. I will say most of the people temping were pretty awesome though. I think they better represented the spirit of bethel or the younger bethelites too. They were fare more reasonable and balanced.
Anyways, definitely curious to hear interesting stories from those who have served at bethel in the past. Cheers!
I've got some crazy stories but they'd identify me, which I'm not ready for. 🤐Who knows, maybe years from now.
They acted like you weren't worth investing their time in since you weren't permanent.
According to a book I read, spiritually abusive people (or rather, abusive people who use religion or spirituality to abuse others) have this grandiosity and self-righteousness attitude. Some are very narcissistic. That attitude doesn't surprise me.
I spent a couple of weeks temping in the London Bethel helping out with an IT project. At the time , I was quite a "strong JW" and kind of naively expected Bethel to be the "Spiritual Paradise" it is held up to be in the publications.
Instead , like the OP discovered , I learned that it was full of somewhat institutionalised people to varying degrees ( some completely assimilated and almost lobotomised ) in a highly controlled environment , with bells to wake up , go to meals and go to work. I found many of the older Bethelites a bit weird - conversations tended to be very stilted as in many cases they didn't watch TV , had no interest in sport and many seemed very vague about the "world" outside - one boasted that he hadn't read a newspaper , book or any non-JW publication for 20 years.
I remember passing a cleaning woman standing in the corridor folding and unfolding towels and an hour later passing her again doing the same thing and being a bit puzzled. I joked "are you still doing that" and she just smiled weakly. After we got into the office , my colleague ( another temp , but who had been there for a few months ) told me that she wasn't allowed to finish till 4:30pm so literally her and her colleagues just had to pretend to work for the last hour or so until dismissed by their supervisor ( a male , of course. )
The nicest guys tended to be the younger guys who , I got the impression , were there almost on a kind of Mormon style "rite of passage" for a couple of years until they eventually got bored , left or got kicked out when no longer required or for breaking one of the numerous rules , and got into a normal life and got married.
On several occasions things happened that kind of reminded me of the film "One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest". It was all a bit surreal and , looking back , it began to open my eyes that all this was was a large MLM style / cult like organisation.
You had to know gary cash to get how funny this really was....
but gary cash managed to get his hands on a whole pan of peach cobbler. A wholllle pan.
So he takes this pan of peach cobbler first thing in the morning and sets it on the flat work iron. The flatwork iron was used for napkins and bed sheets etc etc and had a roller that pulled the flat items in and used rollers to press them. It has a huge cabinet that was warm and he set the pan on top to warm it up.
the pan somehow ended up falling IN the iron. The whole laundry was filled with the aroma of peach cobbler... so greg scharf (floor overseer) investigates and finds the flat work iron destroyed with cobbler in it and ends up identifying gary cash as the culprit... all we could hear was gary saying “chuck i dont know what happened!! It just fell right in!” 😂😂😂😂😂
you had to know gary and what a screw up he was but it was hilarious
I can believe everything you say about some bethelites seeming weird: "highly controlled environment and some seeming almost lobotomized etc.". The few I met here in the US gave off that vibe.
As for what you say about one of them saying they never read a newspaper or any non-JW publication in 20 years, I am not shocked but it makes me angry. People with this kind of ignorance have no business opening their mouth or giving an opinion about anything.
In the congregations there was ignorance but certainly not this extreme. I guess living out in the big bad world gives a person some knowledge. Nobody can afford to be as ignorant and helpless as the religion wishes they would be so they could be controlled. The mindset is so sick and I'm glad I'm not part of the religion anymore.
One day, I was down by glue room which is on the other end of the ink department. I was standing there with Mike Stillman and two other guys. As luck would have it, I ended up marrying his sister two years later.
Mike had this big wooden paddle about six ft. long. He was beating the harden horse hide glue with it. It made a sound like a whip hitting bare flesh.
He would yell out. "Feed the rounder.” This was the cruel machine I had worked on in the bindery. Then he would slap the glue.
”Feed the rounder.”..........Slap! ”Please don't beat me, brother overseer!
“Feed the rounder.”...........Slap!"
We were all laughing. Just then walking up from behind us from the sky bridge was none other than "Liver lips Linderman." The overseer of the whole bindery! He stood there for a minute quaking and finally said.
"Just what do think, would have happened if it was a tour group that had come over that bridge instead of me?"
Mike Just stood there, with his paddle over his shoulder and said with a dead pan look on his face. "Well, I guess they would think we were normal, like everyone else!" Oh my god, I can’t believe what Mike just said!
Rule number one never defend yourself.
Linderman stood there with smoke coming out of his ears and with a hateful look. He didn’t know what to say. How dare we stand up to him? He finally said. "You, You .......have done a very bad thing.” He turned and walked off. We are totally screwed I thought.
That was it, bindery here we come…. back to hell!
My favorite story is from when I worked in the recycling department and they found books from a gb member who died personal library . They sent them down to the recycling area I worked in. They sent 4 brothers down to WATCH me shred them to ensure none of the books got out ROFL.
Anyway they were in huge boxes and I dropped a book on the floor. They made me stop... get up from the industrial shredder and proceed to explain to me that if I purposely did that in an attempt to keep the boom they would immediately send me home. I hated Carlos West.
Then there are all the stories of the JC assembly hall overseer letting worldly people use the assembly hall for personal / worldly escaped.
Not a crazy story, but it's always stuck in my mind about the lengths Bethelites will go through to get a few extra bucks.
I've got a friend who's been at Wallkill for years. Shortly after moving in, he put some very nice clothes and an obscure complete boxed book set in the donation bin (can't recall what they call it). The very next day, all those items were posted for sale on Bethel's internal "craigslist" site.
When he asked others if this was normal, he was told it was. He was also told there was a pervasive issue where Bethelites would keep their eyes out for donated clothing originally purchased from Nordstrom (an upscale department store in the US). The reason? Nordstrom has a notoriously lenient return policy. So they'd grab the donated clothes and return them for store credit. Great scam!
Never been the bethel.
When I started looking into the wt I came across a book or two of people experiences at bethel. Then on sites like Amazon I saw there were many many such books. That was a real eye opener.
They made me think of Churchills description of the old Royal navy being "Rum, sodomy and the lash".