In those three days there, I saw some really nice rooms. I couldn’t help but ask.
“So how does one go about getting one of these nicer rooms?”
“It’s all done by seniority.” She said. “If rooms come up vacant, they go up for bid. You would bid on the room you want. Whoever has the most years of full time service would get the room.” That made sense, “brothers” being rewarded for years of faithful service.
Come to find out seniority just didn’t get you a nicer room at Bethel it solved most of the other problems there too.
The “Dwelling together in unity” booklet stated “Every member of the Bethel family, no matter where he is located in Jehovah's organization, should feel perfectly free to register a complaint if he is mistreated by another individual. These complaints may be registered with the branch overseer or directly to the president.” This sounds like the overseers and the president himself Brother Knorr were approachable with problems right? Well, I guess they forgot to put an asterisk in there. After the asterisk it should have said “If a “brother” has been at Bethel for four or more years.” I knew a half of dozen “brothers” with real problems who went to Bethel overseers with their grievances. The meeting usually went something like this.
“So brother, you are here because you have a problem with Brother Arrogant?”
“So tell me Brother New Boy, how long have you been here at Bethel?”
“Three years sir.”
“Really three years. Well, Brother New Boy, Brother Arrogant has been here for over twenty two years. Thanks for coming by.”
They really didn’t want to hear what you had to say. Not only that, you were now “marked.” Good luck on making Bethel your career now.
It wasn’t just new boys, this happened to three Bethel elders who were also ex circuit overseers who all had well over twenty years full time service to their credit. This was called “Black Thursday.” There will be a whole chapter about this sad event at god’s headquarters.
Come to find out, you were not really considered to be a part of the real Bethel family until after your four year contract was up. At that time in the early nineteen seventies, 95% of all Bethelites left Bethel at or before their four year commitment was over. So they really thought of you as just passing through until then. When you were no longer under contract you were now considered in the real Bethel family.
So the biggest percentage left back then. A few who liked the military life style with a “1984” caveat, stayed. Some stayed because they were weird. They couldn’t or didn’t fit into the outside world where they would have to relate to real people. Some stayed because they were afraid. Armageddon was coming soon. They thought they would be safe at the lord’s house. There they would be saved from the “coming great tribulation,” that the Bible had prophesized about. Some wanted to leave but couldn’t because they had truly become like “Red” in “Shawshank redemption,” they were an “institutionalize man.” Brooklyn Bethel was the mother of all institutions. So you had worked there for many years. Every day they fed you, washed your cloths, made your beds, and even gave you a small allowance like a child every month. You are in your forties or fifties now with little or no job skills. Where are you going? The outside world looked scary as hell and it got scarier every year you were there. I saw many like that there. Couples who were plugging away who had gave up their possibilities of having families or children. They gave up a normal life, to stay at Bethel. You could see it in their faces they were tried and should have left years ago but it was too late now.
The last group that wanted to stay there, were the scariest of them all. These were the people that saw all the bull shit there and still wanted to stay. They were going claw their way up to the top of the organization. They got something there they couldn’t get on the outside, and that was power. They had a name for these people, they were called “Company men.”