#601: Can I Get a Witness?

GETTING MORE TALE #601: Can I Get a Witness?

I owe the Jehovah’s Witnesses a debut of gratitude.  I developed my cat-like stealthy ninja skills thanks to them.  I was able to take this talent into the Record Store a decade later.  How?  Read on.

If you’re not familiar, Jehovah’s Witnesses travel the streets of everyday neighborhoods, going door to door to preach the word.  They have a little magazine called the Watchtower that they distribute.  Every kid in my day was taught “don’t answer the door if a Jehovah’s Witness comes knocking.”  You could see them walking down the street, in formal wear, usually in pairs.  I would hide behind furniture and watch them through the window.  You could see them ring a doorbell, get no answer, and move onto the next house.  That’s how you’d know.  Sometimes we’d even phone neighbor friends.  “Jehovahs are coming down the street! Don’t answer the door!”

It’s not that Jehovah’s Witnesses are bad people.  Prince was a Jehovah’s Witness.  It’s just that nobody really likes an uninvited religious sermon in their homes.  As kids it wasn’t a good idea to open the door to strangers anyway.  And I had some good hiding places to watch for them.  Our big front bay window didn’t offer much cover, but I could spy from other strategic places.  I’d sneak downstairs silently, and get a closer look at their faces through the blinds.  Once, I think I was spotted.  If they rang the doorbell more than once, I assumed I’d been noticed and took deeper cover.

This worked like a charm, until one day I let my guard down.  It was my OAC “Grade 13” year.  I was working on a major project and I needed an audio recording.  I called up my buddy Bob to come over for an hour and help.  He said, “Sure no problem.  I’ll be there in an hour or two.”

An hour later the doorbell rang, and I ran down the stairs excitedly.  I was able to leap an entire staircase in one jump.  I loudly hit the main floor and ran to the door.  Opening it, I saw a kindly little old man in a blue suit and hat.  It was not Bob and I instantly regretted my haste.  It was my first Jehovah’s Witness.

I smiled and let the man speak, but after a few minutes I had to stop him.  “I’m sorry but I’m in the middle of a school project.  I really have to go.”

The man was fine with this.  “Education is very important,” he said, “I’ll come back another time.”

“Sure, sure,” I said, “Have a nice day.”

I got back to my project, but the next week, the old guy came back.  This time my dad answered the door.

“Is the young man available?” asked the Jehovah’s Witness.  I don’t know exactly what my dad said to him, but he never came back again.  I actually felt bad.  He was a nice man, and I’m sure my dad let him have it with a few F-bombs!

Clearly, my method of ninja-like avoidance and surveillance was superior.  I never rushed to answer the door in haste again.

Now, how does this all relate to the Record Store?  Well, I’ll tell ya.

Yours Truly

As discussed in Record Store Tales Part 190: The Early Bird Drops the Discs, I hated when people would bang on the door before we were open.  It wasn’t like our hours were a mystery.  There’s one store in town, Orange Monkey Music, that doesn’t really have posted hours.  It was a day to day mystery.  Whenever they showed up, they’d open.  Some days they wouldn’t open at all.  Not us!  It was the same schedule every week, posted on our front door for easy reference.  It was also on our website.

I’m not sure why some people felt entitled to get in the store before we were open.  I’ve never presumed that a store should let me in just because I was there 10 minutes early.  If I’m there 10 minutes early, that’s my 10 minutes to kill.  It’s not some store employee’s responsibility to let me in because I showed up before the posted hours.

Every Record Store employee had to show up 15 minutes before opening.  This allowed us to vacuum and set up for the day.  If I showed up earlier than 15 minutes, it was because I was the manager and had other things I wanted to get done before opening.  I didn’t get paid for being there early so there was no way I was opening early.

Sometimes I’d be in the back room looking at inventory, when I’d hear banging on the door.  Maybe it would be a boss who forgot their keys, or maybe it would be a customer.  Using my Jehovah-honed ninja skills, I’d skulk behind counters and displays so I could get a clear look.  If it was indeed a customer, they’d usually be carrying a bag of crappy CDs to sell.  Early morning booze money!  I’d stay hidden until they fucked off, then I’d get back to work.  Ninja skills:  maxed out!

The owner of course would let people in early, even though it was me who had to serve them and not him.  I remember one time, local weather man Dave MacDonald showed up early.  The boss let him in well before opening; they seemed to know each other.  But because he was in, that meant everybody else was welcome too.  And I wasn’t even supposed to be on duty yet.  Fuck me, right?  I hated when he let people in early.  Another effect of this was, if you do someone a favour once, they expect it next time.  “The owner lets me in early…”

I’d like to thank every Jehovah’s Witness who ever took a stroll down my street.  You taught me skills you didn’t even know!

 

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33 comments

  1. Yup, we had JWs come to our neighborhood too. My mom, being a staunch old time religious Baptist, would answer every door that rang (the Christian way!), and would resent it. I remember one time, they managed access into our living room! Then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints started canvassing too…
    Me, I don’t answer the door when home alone…nor when I am! I have a polite sign on the front door asking people, “please no religious house calls”. That doesn’t stop it, but I just don’t answer. Heck, I don’t care if they can see me watching my stories on tv through the bay window. My home is my sanctuary. I get enough aggravation “out there”. If they ignore the sign and continue to enthusiastically knock, I sic the hubs on them, or they get my wrath. I suffer no fools with this business.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when they came back asking for the young man……… You were raised to be polite, so sometimes you suffer for it.

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    1. One of our old store locations was in a town called Ajax. Well guess who also had a part time residence in Ajax? Prince. His Royal Purpleness was a true devout JW and did indeed go door to door. I know people who know!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What timing. They came to my door yesterday. I I interrupted them 3 seconds in and told them I’m noy interested.

    I was different as a teen. I had long hair and wore metal shirts.
    I told the JW’s my name was Lucifer and worshipped the devil. The looks on their faces was priceless.

    As for work at least you had a back room. I was an eager employee and wanted to make coin. I would sometimes come in an hour early and stay an hour late.
    However, the customers could always see me. The boss said “If they can see you, we’re open. Which I ignored and always got in shit.
    It got to the point that the eager me was gone. I eventually stopped coming in.early or staying late. They beat me down.
    I noticed as the years went on that many places went from open M-F, then Saturdays, then Sundays, then 24 hrs.
    Customers went from being good to employees to being entitled. They wanted employees to cater to them. I had a customer on a Ssturday show up 1.5 hours after we closed and I had to wait for him. He didn’t even say sorry. I stressed to him to be back at 1, but of course he didn’t. I was salary, so of course all of that overtime was not paid for.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My wife works at Shopper’s Drug Mart.
        The store can not open unless a pharmacist is present ( I think it is Shoppers policy, it may be a law though)
        So if they are late, the doors stay locked.
        The customers freak out on all of the employees.
        Plus, the relief pharmacists make about 80-100 bucks an hour and have the nerve to show up late.

        The other thing about her store is being open on Civic holidays. They have to rope off sections of the store that can not be open on that day, but customers duck under the roped off sections.

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        1. King St. bridge across from Freeport hospital. There are two groups of protesters. One is from a church, and the others are pro-choice. The pro-choice people are a bunch of our friends.

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  4. I used to stay ‘round the corner from a JWHQ. They often did outreach in the area and I’ve never felt comfortable with just closing the door on folks who I’ve seen having the door closed on them, so I answered genuinely that I was kinda busy, wasn’t really a religious kinda guy and that I didn’t give how I viewed their thing that much thought and agreed to accept some literature and wished them a splendid day.

    That was me. They returned for weeks. My wife would answer cause I was often at work or doing something else. I think in the end she had to tell them that if I was interested I’d go to the HQ.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I remeber a Jehovah’s Witness church go up in my neighbourhood when I was younger.
          The men working, the women making food.
          Much like a Mennonite building, the entire congration built it. All volunteer.
          I don’t remember how long it took, but it wasn’t long.
          It was an amazing thing to watch.
          My guess is the window thing is cost plus easier to put up walls with no windows.
          I can only assume they worked weekends and after work hours. Maybe some took holiday time, or had retired guys through the day.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. I remember once a JW knocked on my apartment door. This means someone let them in the building and they went door to door inside the whole building! Never blindly push the Door Unlock button for strangers, folks!

    Anyway, when I opened the door (because I wasn’t expecting guests, had buzzed no one in myself, so only the super would knock, I assumed), without any preamble the guy says “Are you concerned about Satan?” I was taken aback but recovered quickly… “No,” says I, “he’s just in the other room. Want me to wake him for you?”

    Talk about a hasty retreat down the hall for that guy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We never ever unlock the front entrance for strangers!

      Are you concerned about Satan? HAHAHA! No…that usually doesn’t enter my train of thought on a given day. Am I concerned about hydro bills? Start with that next time. LOL

      Like

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