#501: Free Personality Test

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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.

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28 comments

  1. The Warchtower is Jehovah’s is the only religion that ever bothered me. They are under the guise of being Christian, but are even more self serving money grabbers that will show up at your home and bug the shit out of you. I told the last one ” My name is Lucifer, please take my hand.”

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Ah yes. Well the Church of Travolta is a business. It was L Ron Hubbard who said the only way to really make money was to start your own religion so you get tax exemption. So he did….

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  2. I always wonder what people get out of this. Are they hoping for a better seat in heaven? I see billboards sometimes and wonder what kind of person would spend that kind of money to say ‘There is proof of God! ‘ And for what end.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Here’s one that bugs me. Every fall I drive past a group of church protesters holding up anti-abortion signs at the local hospital. They are there from October to early December. That’s great — exercise your rights. Have at it. But I see them dragging out young kids, 7-8 years old holding signs. I find that…off-putting.

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        2. Well, it makes sense, I guess. They’re not just believing in this stuff at church, they take it home with them too, so the kids get to hear it all the time anyway. They’d see it as securing followers for the next generation after themselves, too.

          I’m with you, it’s frustrating as hell that the kids don’t get to make up their own damn minds from the get-go.

          Heck even I, playing music for the kids*, try to give them a broad swath, from classical to jazz, from blues to metal, from punk to country, nd they sure as heck tell me what they like and what they don’t like. As it should be!

          * music is religion, right? :)

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a few simple rules in life, and one of them is that religion is a person’s own thing. If you wanna believe that that fence post is your god, and a bunch of other people feel that way about the fence post, well then hey, y’all knock yourselves out and have fun. But leave me out of it. I don’t want to hear about how much you love the fence post, I don’t want to be pressured to join you in praising the fence post, and I don’t want to join you in gathering around the fence post to do whatever it is that you do there. I have my own thoughts about faith and religion and that’s what they are, my thoughts.

    Look, faith is a wonderful thing for many people. If people need an idea, a book, a building to go to to make themselves feel like a better person, well then fine. Go be that better person. If your faith stops you from doing stupid things you might have otherwise done, then we thank you for believing, because the rest of us are also trying to be good people too.

    As for getting cornered at work, well, I’ve been cornered and I never sat through it. It was simple. I held up my hand gently to stop them, smiled and firmly said ‘no thank you.’ They got the message before they could bore me with theirs. And they went off to find someone else to help them hump the fence post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My own personal rule is this: Don’t talk politics or religion. Add climate change in there too. If I know you and you’re interested, sure I’ll tell you about my beliefs. If you’re not, I’ll happily keep them to myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And that was exactly my point. You can believe what you like, and share with like-minded folks. But attempting to force it upon other people is just crap. If they wanna join in, they’ll seek out what they want and join up. Fair play.

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  4. Mike, my regard for your patience and forbearance has just surged. But really, religious door-knockers bailed you up when you were at work? Insert your choice of fruity swear-words here………… I reckon even CS Lewis would have told them to ‘go forth and multiply’ (but not in those words)*.

    * thanks to Woody Allen for the loan of that old joke.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I’m big on reincarnation which means I get to sign up loads of celeb endorsements from people who can’t sue me – like Geronimo, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. We all get to hang out in the platinum lounge, no ectoplasm guaranteed!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I remember going to Sunday School from a tender young age and being told to bring your friends to church – incessantly. “Teach them about Jesus…” I was jealous of the other kids who were able to corral their friends into coming to church. I’d ask my friends, and they would be all, “no way boooorrrrrring!” (and they had a point lol)
    I also had a friend who went to my church (Baptist), and then decided one day she was a Johovah’s Witness. I didn’t understand why she would change. It took me years to realize how personal someone’s belief system is, and to formulate my own feelings in relation to faith. For me, I respect it, but don’t believe it. My mom and dad are BIG TIME into church. I get the cards with Bible verses on them and everything. I respect their faith, but am not part of it. I wonder if it weren’t rammed down my throat at every turn when I was growing up, if I’d look at a church today and think, “hm, maybe?” I don’t know! At least for now, I know I don’t like to be solicited in any form, particularly with matters of faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. If the subject came up naturally and organically in a coversation, great. “OH, we were just talking about that at church the other day.” “Oh really, what church do you go to?” There’s one way for it to occur naturally. The second party continued it by asking a question.

      At my work, we have had a couple Muslim guys as temps. The last one was right during Ramadan, so everybody wanted to make sure he was cool with us eating around him. We didn’t want to make his fast more difficult by bringing in all this delicious food right near him. But he was really cool, he said it didn’t bother him at all because he’s so used to Ramadan, and that led to a couple really good conversations! But again, totally natural — we just wanted to make sure he was OK with us eating around him during his fast.

      On the other hand, I’ve been forced into conversations that were not appropriate. For example (and my buddy Chris who also writes here will back this up), I was told by a co-worker that I will go to hell because I watch the Simpsons.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thankfully where I work, there aren’t any religious discussions that I’ve come across. Mostly it’s a war between the vegans and meat-eaters or those who recycle and those who don’t lol
        Totally agree – not appropriate to tell someone they will go to hell because of the Simpsons.

        Liked by 1 person

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