Mop and Bucket: A JW minister and Three Incidents
THREE INCIDENTS (from my youth)In 1972 I had a glorious job as a janitor cleaning Fort Worth's largest newspaper offices at the Star-Telegram for $1.60 an hour in the wee hours (midnight to 8 am).(Hold your applause till the end, please).Yes - I was still a Jehovah's Witness and yes - we young full-time ministers accepted any part-time employment such as mine to survive until 1975 (when the, um, End of Human Existence would occur; according to Watchtower magazine leaders.)Only three interesting things worth mentioning about that janitor job will I cite for you to convey the flavor of my life at age 25.There were ten of us on that crew. We were all black men of various ages and dispositions who couldn't get a decent job because of our prison records. You take what you can, ya know?The Crew Chief was not black. He was sleepy and named Ed.Ed never took part in the cleaning.His was a supervisory function.He would spot-check and make sure we didn't steal anything expensive. Ed was not very competent in that capacity.Ed mostly slept.Now before I continue...Let me adjust my comment about "all black men". It wasn't my skin that was black - it was my MOOD. Okay?Now back to my story.I mention three incidents at the top. Remember?_____#1The first incident I'm pretty sure I've written about before.There was a huge Wells Fargo safe in the Editor's office in a walk-in closet behind the desk. The door to that closet was kept locked except for this one occasion. It stood ajar revealing the locked safe. It may have been locked - but - it wasn't safe!Remember this story?If not - you really missed out!Briefly, here are the highlights ...When I was in grade school all students had a locker and a combination lock. The unbreakable rule was this: ALL lockers must be kept locked!Well, okay. However...the distance between my last two classes was three flights of stairs! I had very little time to open the locker, switch out the textbook, lock up, and (don't) RUN the crowded stairs to the last class.So what?So I - and most other students - worked the combination right up to about a half-turn toward the last digit. In the frantic mad dash process, we could run over to the lock and give a tiny twist and CLICK! Open!Now - back to my Star-Telegram janitor sees Wells Fargo's safe story...As I was sweeping, dumping ashtrays, emptying trash cans - what did I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE - but - a combination lock and the instantaneous memory of my high school locker!Yes. I simply hypothesized that ...maybe...the editor of the newspaper took the same shortcut. Possibly?You know how it is when you've been around convicted criminals a couple of years? Yeah - your mindset becomes polluted.Cut to the chase...I tried it. I HAD TO. It would annoy and nag me forever had I not tried.I had a 50/50 chance IF the shortcut was to work.I slowly pulled the steel handle as I clicked the tumbler and -by golly - YIPES! The damn impregnable Wells Fargo solid steel, six-inch, thick safe door swung open.And yes - there were stacks of cash just like it is in the movies!Payroll. No checks - just cash. Oh - and there was a bottle of Vodka too.It scared the crap out of me for about a dozen reasons.I didn't wish to go back to prison. No no no.I also didn't want to stand there eyeballing stacks of $$$$$$.I quickly shut the door and spun the tumbler and rubbed my cleaning rag all over the door.That was incident number #1.___________Incident #2One night, Ed the sleepy supervisor pulled me aside and spoke in a whisper."I work another job during the day and I'm so tired - I just need to get some rest or I'll fall down. I need you to keep an eye on Tyrone while I catch my Z's. I don't trust him. Okay - go to it and don't wake me up for ANY reason."Fast-forward a couple of hours and a few minutes after Tyrone had stabbed one of the other crew members.It was nothing malicious. Just guys with knives messing about.Should I wake ED and inform him or not?What would you have done?Personally, I have a hard and fast rule I absorbed from my prison experience. DO NOT SNITCH!Consequently ...Ed slept through the blood, the ambulance, the police part of the evening.The next night, Ed pulled me aside with a peculiar look on his face.What would you guess Ed was going to say to me?Go on ...make your guess.Okay. Time's up. You're wrong - whatever you guessed.Ed said this to me:"Thanks for not waking me up. I'm glad I missed all that shit."Yeah. Amazing.____Incident #3On my last night of work at the Star-Telegram building as a janitorI found the Entertainment Writer, Elston Brooks, dead drunk at his desk. At first, I thought he was just dead. But as I got closer I could smell the "drunk" part of it.Elston Brooks was a larger-than-life personality figure who wrote columns in a witty, off-hand manner and he hob-nobbed with all sorts of celebrities in his capacity as interviewer covering movies, actors, actresses, directors, etc.I should NOT have spoken to him - but - I wasn't absolutely convinced he wasn't dead.I jostled his arm and spoke aloud:"ARE YOU OKAY?"Instantly, Elston sat bolt upright like a Private snapping to "Attention!" when a Sgt. walks into the barracks.I won't ask you to guess what he said to me. Nobody could guess in a million years. Not even a million monkeys typing on typewriters random sentences could produce the words that came out of his mouth.Here for the very first time, I will reveal it."Steve McQueen and I -- in London -- watched a naked woman wrestle a panther in Raymond’s Revue Bar."He then leaned to the side and vomited onto the floor.Noticing the mop and bucket beside me he squeaked, "Clean that up." Then he passed out face first on the desk.Well - I did not "Clean that up."I had had enough. My black mood had topped off.This was what my life had come to. Sopping vomit.I quit.The next day I set out in my blue Ford Maverick on a mission to find my father in Detroit.I needed to find out who he was as a person and discover who I was as his son - and what kind of genetic mismatch had screwed up my life.But that's a completely unrelated story - and I've probably told it a dozen times already.That's all for now.Bye-bye!LikeCommentShare
Great story Terry. I think we all put up with crappy jobs as Jw pioneers. Good move to quit when you did.
Mr. Terry: Great stories, from Way Back When". Keep 'em coming. Best Regards....Titch.
Great reads, Terry - thanks. The safe story -- oh my.
I still see a lot of JW window washers and roofers in my city and usually the word
"KINGDOM" is on the business card.
I have recently been contacted by a Brother I was in prison with back in the late '60s about a reunion on ZOOM. I mention him because his profession beats everybody
else by a wide margin.
He is a computer whiz.
Read his Bio and try not to feel too envious.
Senor-level Software Engineer/Information Technology Consultant specializing in Business Intelligence and Visualization.
Acknowledged as an expert in the FOCUS/WebFOCUS Business Intelligence and application development environments, and solid experience, or a good working knowledge, in many of the Business Intelligence environments and methodologies, currently in use.
Experienced as a Data Architect, Programmer, Systems Developer, Systems Administration, Systems Analyst, Business Analyst, Team Lead (including offshore groups), Project Manager, and trained in the full life cycle of systems development (SDLC).
Skilled in a wide variety of Legacy and Web-based languages, a solid knowledge of API’s, strong UI skills, system interfaces adapters, and frameworks. Extensive mainframe, midrange, and workstation experience, as well as a variety of legacy environments and operating systems. IBM certified as a SQL/DS and DB2 DBA, and other RDBMS environments and DBMS environments.
Strong web-based experience, including a working knowledge of many of the newer web-based environments, and skilled in creating web portals, dashboards, data marts, complex reporting, charts/graphics, mapping, analytics, and statistics.
Experienced in the Transportation, Manufacturing, Medical, Financial, Communications, and Education fields, as well as Federal and State government.
His current employment contract nets him $50k a month.
That's even better than washing windows and emptying trash bins!!
How the hell did he fit all that on his business card?
GrreatTeacher20 hours ago
How the hell did he fit all that on his business card?
Ha! It's from his Linked-In CV
He's the exception, however, as we all know. Jehovah's Witnesses are
barely above subsistence farmers and sharecroppers on the grand scale of human achievement.
This brings up another issue: How does the Watchtower run short of cash when its "employees" are VOLUNTEERS?