GETTING MORE TALE #501: Free Personality Test
There are very few experiences in the world quite as trying as being forced to listen to a captive audience religious lecture at work. Now why would that happen? Well shit; in retail it happens all the time!
At the Record Store, I worked alone most of the time. Most of us did; we only staffed one person on duty for most of the day, from 10-5, for many years. This led to a number of inconveniences such as trying to find a moment to eat a lunch or take a wizz. Everybody dealt with it in their own ways; my way usually involved eating less lunch and more junk food, and getting really good at “holding it” for hours at a time.
But we weren’t busy all of the time. There were long stretches of…not boredom, but different kinds of work, when the store was slow and empty. Cleaning, balancing books, organising, doing inventory, taking annoying phone calls from higher-ups asking if the store was busy yet (and then somehow implying it’s your fault because “Cambridge is really busy right now”)…there was always lots to do! Unfortunately when you were alone at the store, you could sometimes get cornered by a talky customer for long periods of time.
The worst of these “conversations” (not really because they were usually one-sided) were the religious lectures. These were rare. I don’t want to mis-represent the situation. These religious lectures didn’t happen every day. But every once in a while, you would get cornered by somebody who just wants to tell you all about Jesus.
Yes, Jesus. I was never bothered by atheists, Muslims, Hindus or Wiccans. It was only the Christians, and only certain varieties of them, that wanted to tell you about their faith. I have nothing against any religions; I am a Christian myself but I consider this a somewhat personal journey. I really hate when people get my back up lecturing me about their faith. I like talking, not being lectured, and not at work! I’m trapped there; I don’t have an escape route. I don’t think this is an unreasonable pet peeve. But it happened. I’ve been handed Watchtower pamphlets, been invited to church services, and been told the music that was playing was satanic.
My strategy was “nod and smile”: Trying not to say too much, trying to get it overwith, and praying to my own Lord and saviour for the phone to ring so I could exit. You may think to yourself, “Well why not just tell the person you’re not interested?” Because they are used to hearing that and have answers to everything.
The religious solicitation at work continues today but with new methods. And there is only one church soliciting me today.
It started with the faxes in 2013: “Come to lunch at the Church of Scientology”. They were arriving weekly, the faxes, shortly after the new church opened in town. We joked about going; apparently they had a cafeteria that served lunch. We were getting sick of all the Wendy’s, McDonalds, and Burger Kings in town, but it never progressed further than joking. “Wouldn’t it be funny if…?” Even though they are open seven days a week during the day, the place always looked ominously deserted. It is mere walking distance from where I work today.
This week, I got my first Scientology invitation at home. It came in the guise of an offer for a “Free Personality Test” in my mailbox. It’s a “limited time” offer only (I’m pretty sure that’s false) and takes just one hour. It’ll help me improve my happiness and success in life. On the front it says “Oxford Capacity Analysis” (a nonsense phrase unrelated to Oxford university, designed to sound smart), and has graphs inside showing…something? The numbers on the axes aren’t explained. Only when you turn to the very back do you see who is offering this “Free Personality Test”, and yes, it’s the local Church of Travolta.
I find all of these tactics very cunning and shifty. In all these situations, they are coming at the target (me/us) with an advantage. I was cornered at work at the Record Store, putting me in a situation where it’s hard to escape the lecture. Today they send out these enticing booklets and invitations without being truthful about who they are until the last page. There’s something un-trustworthy about that.
Free personality test? Remember folks — nothing’s free.