A Customer really pissed me off yesterday at work: SHE WANTS TO PRAY for me

by Terry 116 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Terry

    I work in a bookstore that specializes in buying its goods directly from the public second-hand and reselling them at half price.

    It is a large chain of 83 stores in 8 states and does about 100 million a year.

    I'm in charge of the Religion and the Philosophy sections.

    Company policy is to NOT engage in discussions with the customers; ESPECIALLY on subjects that are controversial. I abide by this 99.9% of the time and just listen if people want to blather about something. When a direct question of a personal nature comes my way I smile and deflect it casually with a quip or two and head for a different part of the store.

    Well, yesterday I erred.

    A very nice lady in her forties was looking for certain kinds of books in my section and I thought I would point out a few others which might interest her as well. She encouraged my opinion on the books, then the authors and then the general nature of my interest.

    It was a subtle sort of thing. I didn't see what was coming next (stupid me!)

    She took advantage of the fact I have a wide grasp of history/philosophy/religion to extract details that might be a bit more esoteric than the average reader might enjoy. I thought she was actually interested in the discussion! She smiled and complimented me on my intelligence. (That was the set up and I, being an ego-centric male, took the hook.)

    Next she innocently inquired:

    "With all this in depth knowledge and information at your disposal have you reached any conclusions about all this personally?" She appeared to be simply seeking neutral comments and I relaxed my guard.

    I replied, "Well, I use to be a religious fanatic. It has taken me 20+ years to recover from the effects of that. From all the knowledge I've been able to acquire since then I would say I am pretty much agnostic about religion. I just don't KNOW if any of it has any validity, or, if it does how much and what it means."

    That was as middle-of-the-road and inoffensive as I can be on a moment's notice.

    She got closer to me and asked:

    "Why do you say you were a 'religious fanatic'?" Once again her demeanor was neutral and curious.

    I off-handedly responded with:

    "Because I devoted myself entirely to thoughts and actions concerning the bible, what god's will was in my life and I squandered two decades trying to convince other people they should have the same preoccupation. I think of those religious years as a mental contagion from which I've recovered."

    She gave a very sad expression to her face and cooed calmly:

    "Obviously you never really surrendered to God or you wouldn't say that. You have to have humility when you approach God and really be ready to give yourself to Him."

    That ticked me.

    Here was a lady who did not know me or anything about my life or my personal experiences. She took a few neutral words offered by me in reply to a commonplace question and was now able to fully judge who and what my life had been all about! The hubris!

    I volunteered a bit more information to her without malice and unexcitedly in a calm tone:

    "Well, humility? I did just say I am willing to admit I DON'T KNOW. Isn't that what humility is all about? And as far as surrendering to God---well, I put myself in harm's way by going to prison during the Viet Nam war solely because I was surrendering to the idea of serving Jesus admonitions about loving your enemy and offering the other cheek. I was almost raped. Isn't that "surrender" in your book?"

    She was now very self-possessed and spoke with authority and confidence. She beamed:

    "You could have been a MARTYR for Christ! That would be wonderful!!"

    Okay, that ticked me even more. I was now across the line. I retaliated this time:

    "Isn't what is wrong with the world right now the fact there are god-enflamed people around the planet who are eager to die as martyrs rather than simply live a righteous life? The men who flew planes into the World Trade Center are martyrs. How illustrious is that? They craved paradise and surrendered to God's approval in self-sacrifice. But, I challenge you to explain how DYING is better than LIVING for your principles. That is why I used the word FANATIC before. It is how a fanatic thinks."

    She didn't miss a beat. She continued as though I had merely whispered: "Ice cream" or some equally irrelevent phrase. She spoke:

    "Christian martyrs; that is what I meant. Besides, why do you read all these books and let these authors tell you what to think? Just let God into your heart--he is all that matters."

    Well, them's fightin' words! My temperature went up a few notches; but, I kept my voice equable and soothing. I laughed and said:

    "Ma'am, I regard religion as a mental illness that is highly contagious. I just told you I was recovering from that self-deception. Would you offer a drink to a recovering alcoholic? I don't think so. Well, I am a GOD-A-HOLIC! I've wasted enough idle years on my knees pleading to an empty sky for "guidance" and submitting to the will of a silent room with only a cold wind blowing outside. When you SUBMIT to God--you know what you are really doing? (Rhetorical question). You are erasing your rational mind and pretending there are two worlds. One world is the REAL world and the other is the FANTASY world you WISH existed. You would have me disappear back into the make-believe delusion and waste perhaps 20 more years? No! I prefer to live in reality; the REAL WORLD."

    As you might imagine the lady was oblivious. She kept shaking her head as though walking by a car wreck and counting the bleeding bodies. She let pity flow into her words:

    "Here is what I want you to do. Do you have one of these at your house?" (She actually pointed to a BIBLE!)

    I was thunderstruck.

    "Are you asking me if I own a bible?" I replied incredulously.

    "Yes, do you?"

    I could hardly reply.

    "I do, I have several--why do you ask?" (I may as well make it easy for her, right?)

    She continued:

    "Tonight I'm going to go home and get down on my knees and ask God to help you find him. Will you just take your bible and read John 1:1 when you get home?"

    "I'm familiar with John 1:1. (I then arrogantly recited it in Greek to her for effect!)"

    "That's fine...just read it and I'll pray for you and you JUST SEE IF GOD DOESN'T HELP YOU."

    Then she handed me her card, smiled and left.

    It took me two hours before I got really really angry.

    Finally I was pissed beyond all measure.

    The ARROGANCE and SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS of that lady is just mind-numbing.

    And to think, I use to do what she is doing! I thought to myself how many people's doors I knocked on. I started out merely assuming they didn't have doodly squat and I had the universe in the palm of my hand in my little green bible! HUBRIS!! I was there to CHANGE their life without even knowing their life at all. That is beyond arrogance. That is mental illness.

    That is what angered me. It was like coming face to face with what I use to be as a Jehovah's Witness. I was doing the marking and sealing work for a god so damned lazy he wouldn't get up off his butt to pull a three year old out of a swimming pool to prevent drowning!

    Today I'm not quite as angry; but, I'm still disturbed at myself for even talking to her at all.

    At least here on the JWD we come here to talk to each other with an UNDERSTANDING that religion is the topic and no holds are barred from an honest discussion.

    Has a situation like this ever blind-sided you as it did me? Am I over-reacting? I don't think so. My reaction follows my values. I value self-sufficiency and cherish my rational mind. To have a stranger impugn both in a five minute conversation naturally generates an emotional reaction on my part.

    I'll not make the same mistake again at work; I assure you.


  • ChrisVance

    Terry, I think you handled the situation very well. I avoid those kind of people like the plaugue, but then I don't have your knowledge and ability to deal with them.

  • Legolas
    And to think, I use to do what she is doing! I thought to myself how many people's doors I knocked on. I started out merely assuming they didn't have doodly squat and I had the universe in the palm of my hand in my little green bible! HUBRIS!! I was there to CHANGE their life without even knowing their life at all. That is beyond arrogance. That is mental illness

    So true...so true

  • upside/down
    being an ego-centric male

    That was obvious after I read this...

    It is a large chain of 83 stores in 8 states and does about 100 million a year.

    The price of oats in China is how much?

    But hey Terry...that was an awesome experience. "Karma" is a bitch...sometimes with PMS.

    I would have done the same as you...

    I also tend to get more angry AFTER the fact as I realize what was done to me.

    But you're right.... chalk it up to experience and be better prepared for the next time...

    And if it helps...I'll get on my knees and pray for you too...

    u/d(of the if we weren't X-XJW's this wouldn't even be funny class)

  • Pole

    Terry, I'll pray for you tonight. ;-)

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Terry, I'l hum a showtune for you.

    That will counteract her presumptuous prayer.

    You'll be safe, brother.

  • BrendaCloutier

    Terry, I agree with Chriss, you handled it very well. I love you'r quoting her John 1:1 in Greek! Just ahd to get that dig in, didn't ya?

    I think what might have been the pisser for you is she was as pushy as you used to be as a JW. She was weasly (sorry weasls) and subtle and hooked you!

    BTW..... did you pray that night and read John 1:1? (Ok, don't hit me over that one!)

  • ringo5

    This kind of crap makes me mad too, and I wasn't sure why until you explained it very well.

    And it would burn me further to think that she is going to relate her encouraging experience to her bible-thumpin brethren and be commended for her boldness of speech...

  • ChrisVance

    Thank atheism she didn't convert you.

  • carla

    I admire your self control. Something I could use sometimes when talking to my jw. carla

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