Chapter 33 New Boy 50 years a Watchtower slave
Starving outside the load’s house
There is no fanfare when you leave bethel. Why should there be. They didn’t care about you while you were there so why would the care about you now you are leaving. In fact some thought you were nuts because you didn’t want to join their country club. So some took it personally and let you know how stupid you were to leave the lord’s house just a few months before 1975 was to arrive.
Someone buys a 3 dollar box of ice cream at lunch. The waiters cut it up into ten pieces for the whole table and you get a "good bye" card from everyone. Everyone at your table smiles and shakes your hand as if to say we were just kidding.
The tradition in the press room is they make a handmade card with some jokes about you in it and give it to you.
There is no thanks for the four years of your life. Just like in the prison movies the gates close behind you and you’re standing there by yourself.
There is no exit interview. So I gave myself one. I wanted answers. I wanted more, I wanted someone in a position of power to tell me something. Maybe even give me some hope again.
I did what I was told to do there. I worked hard and kept my mouth shut for the most part.
I had looked behind the curtain at the great and powerful OZ and was truly disappointed. There must be more, I thought maybe I missed something.
I decided I would see Bob Wallen, he was Knorr’s personal secretary at the time, and also the person in charge of all the missionaries around the world. He had been one of my table heads in the lower dining room. He seemed to be a humble person. I really liked Bob and his wife.
On my last day there I went to Bob and asked. "Bob what was this all about? I mean there are somethings going on here that are just not right!" He said. "I know what you mean. I look at these poor brothers in the bindery and I think that there but for the grace of God goes me. I want you to know, I have told the powers that be that we need to make a few changes here.” He motioned into Knorr’s office. “You, can help us by going back home and telling them how wonderful it is here!" "What?" I said. There is just a year left until 1975 and we really need the help here. So go back home and tell them how great it is here. Or if you can't say anything good about the place, please just don’t say anything at all."
Yes, tell the people about how wonderful it is here in god’s “spiritual paradise.” But please don’t tell people what’s behind the curtain.
Bob was just like all the rest there, who had invested their whole life in the dream, the illusion.
I think I got my answer. For the powers that be, the end justifies the means. Knorr once said. “I can replace any of you with just a twenty five cent postage stamp.” The individuals in the organization are expendable.
They say you only real power you have in life is personal boycott. I guess it was time for them spent another .25 cents and fine another new boy.
That is why few ex-Bethelities talk about Bethel. No one would believe it them if they did. I wouldn’t have.
Thirty days before I met with Bob, I had turned in my notice. Ester Lopez couldn’t wait to give me a dig. At one of my last lunches at Dixon’s table she had her chance.
I was wolfing down my lunch and looked up and caught her eye. She smiled and said. “You better eat everything on your plate because you are going to starve when you are on the outside.”
I didn’t say a word but I thought. I would rather starve to death on the outside of this place, then sit in here with you self-righteous assholes! They really thought they would get special treatment being at the headquarters when the shit hit the fan during the “Great tribulation” that was coming in just a few months.
Forty years later and still no “Great Tribulation and no Armageddon.”
Yes, the world did come to an end. The world ended for Knorr and Larson, Couch, Franz, Henshel, Suiter, Lang, Wallen, Wheelock and all the other Bethel heavies. Just like it had ended for Charles Russell in 1916 and for “Judge” Rutherford in 1943. Even Ester is gone but the organization is still there.
The day I left it was pouring rain. I really screwed up, I found out the night before, as I was packing things up, that I had way under estimated how much stuff I had. I had two large suit cases, that I could barely shut the lids on and a large army duffel bag. I would guess about 200 pounds of shit. My Van was in Rhode Island with the engine out of it. I was taking the bus to Rhode Island.
It was only four big blocks to the Subway station. It took me forty five minutes to get there. The longest forty five minutes of my life. It felt like the scene in "The Shawshank Redemption" when he crash out of sewer pipe in the rain.
I would carry or drag my belongings only about twenty to thirty feet at a time. I would have to stop. I would sit there on top of one of my suit cases, panting for air. I was drenched to the bone and mad as hell. How could I have been so stupid? After a few minutes, I would gather my strength and drag my shit another twenty to thirty feet.
As I was sitting on my suit cases in the rain, many people were walking by me and giving me strange looks. Most people are not surprised at anything they see in New York.
I sat there soaking wet, with everything I owned. I thought back to four years earlier, when I only had 140 dollars to my name after that first cab ride to Bethel. Now, I was leaving Bethel with one hundred and sixty bucks. Not bad after four years. I was leaving with a twenty dollar profit.
I missed my first bus to Rhode Island and had to wait four hours for the next bus. So I was pissed off at everything, Bethel, New York City, the subways and life in general.
There in the bus station I made two vows.
1. I would never work for anyone ever again. If I was going to work for a "Jerk" it might as well be me!
2. I would never be and elder or in a position of any "Over Sight" in the organization, the biggest thing I learned at Bethel was, that power corrupts people. I decided I would never sit in judgement of one of my follow brothers or sisters.
God... your stories continue ticbring so much back for me. When i left in 1994 it was identical. Same reactions from the people there same reactions when i got home. And as you said, even if you told someone they wouldnt believe it.
Thanks for all your accounts and story. Really have been enjoying it! Visited and stayed at a number of bethels over the years always thought, man it would suck to have to live here.
I have a few friends who are ex-bethelites and never has one said how good it was to be in bethel. Maybe they've all been reminded the same thing as you when they left, "Or if you can't say anything good about the place, please just don’t say anything at all."
Thanks for another chapter on your time in bethel - the 'happiest' place on earth. When you mentioned you were told to lie and say something nice or say nothing at all about your awful time there, that must explain why the few former bethelites I met were very tight lipped about their feelings. I felt in my gut they were hiding something.
What a horrible place. No wonder you were confused about the meaning of it all.
It was almost humorous reading about you carrying heavy luggage in the pouring rain to a bus stop heading for your home town. In your anger, you made certain vows to yourself. It was all crystal clear in that frame of mind.
Thankfully, you only spent four years there and aren't like many others who have to enter the world and the workforce later in life - with just the change in their pocket. I think somebody let out of prison gets more money than that.
I can relate to your experience. I left the farm in 76. As soon as I turned in my notice I was pulled off the press and put into the subscription dept.. Sorting labels. The department overseer came up to me and said I had to sort faster. I said.....SO? I only had 30 days left and should have walked out at that time. No one at the table would speak to me when they learned that I turned in my notice. I had sat at this table for two years. Great way to treat someone who just spent four years VOLUNTEERING with out pay. Unlike your experience I had a car. I was intoxicated with freedom as I drove away with my whole life ahead of me. Like you I determined to not be a MS or elder. No more control, rules and slavery.
new boy, I have an interesting story to tell about Knorr's secretary. When I was at the Farm, I was chosen to take the secretary, Knorr's sister and a few of his minor relatives on tour. When we got to the kitchen, she asked to be let inside so she could have a private tour of the kitchen. I told her that I was sorry, but NY state health and hygiene laws prohibited allowing tours into the kitchen. Wrong move on my part! 'Do you know who you are taking on tour' ?asked Knorr's secretary. I informed him that I knew exactly who he was and who Knorr's sister was, but that if I showed her special preference, I would be breaking the law and it would be unfair to the thousands of other witnesses that came on tour every year if I showed Sister Knorr special preference but would not let the average witness also enjoy a tour of the kitchen. Into the kitchen went the secretary and he came out with the kitchen overseer to give them a tour. The kitchen overseer acted like he was taking Jesus Christ himself into his 'humble kitchen'. I remained outside the doors in protest.
So let me get this straight: They knew you (a volunteer for 4 years) were leaving that day, and instead of taking you to the bus stop or hailing you a cab, they sent you off packin' in the pouring, NYC rain? (I've been in that exact type of rain in NYC, so I feel ya). What a bunch of fucking assholes!!!!!! My, what fine, LOVING shepherds these users are. And that's exactly what they are - USERS!!!