Not Going Fully Native(ity)

, , , , , | Learning | August 24, 2017

(I am in charge of costuming all of the Sunday School kids for our church’s annual Christmas pageant. I have made a stack of patched, ragged tunics and headgear out of donated sheets, towels, etc. for the shepherds, and told them that they need to either bring a pair of dark colored leather sandals (no flip-flops) to wear that night, or if they prefer they can go barefoot. The dressing area is in the basement, and it’s a little chilly. An eleven-year-old boy has donned his tunic (and shorts under the tunic; I’m not a stickler for realism) and is arguing with me about his footwear.)

Boy: “Why can’t I wear my socks and running shoes? I’m cold!”

Me: “Because you’re a poor shepherd.”

Boy: “Couldn’t I be a rich shepherd?”

Wasn’t Done In A New York Minute

, , , , | Right | May 29, 2017

(I work at a very large church in NYC that’s also a popular tourist destination. We’re known not just for our grandeur, but also our programming, both liturgical and secular, which brings a lot of people through our doors. I work in the gift shop, which is also something of a reception area. In the middle of a busy day, I get this phone call.)

Me: “[My Church] Visitors Center. This is [My Name].”

Caller: “Hi, there’s an organ concert happening at [Church on the other side of town] next week and I’m coming into Penn Station to hear it.”

(Please note, we have organ concerts, as well, so I’m thinking this has something to do with our organist.)

Caller: “How do I get there?”

Me: “From [My Church]?”

Caller: “No! From Penn Station! Can I walk to Madison Avenue and then take the Madison Avenue local?”

Me: “Walk to Madison Avenue from Penn Station? It’s kind of far.”

Caller: “But can I walk it?”

Me: “I suppose you could walk the entire way if you wanted to.”

Caller: “But I want to walk to Madison Avenue and then take the local up!”

Me: “This isn’t [Church across town]. This is [My Church].”

Caller: “I know! But no one was picking up over there!”

Me: “I can try to help get you directions, but we’re not affiliated with that church, so I’m not familiar with where it is.”

Caller: “I know you’re not! I’m just trying to find out if I can walk to Madison Avenue and take the Madison Avenue local up!”

Me: “To get across town your best bet is to take the shuttle at Times Square.”

Caller: “I don’t want to take a shuttle! What subway should I take!”

Me: “The shuttle is the subway you should take. It runs from Times Square to Grand Central and back.”

(This goes on for far longer than you’d think it should, after I’ve given him explicit subway instructions with him questioning me at every direction. He doesn’t believe me that there’s no subway line on Madison Avenue. He doesn’t believe me that the closest subway stop is four blocks and two avenues from the church, and he’s getting increasingly frustrated that I don’t know the exact address and location of a church I don’t work for. My line is growing and my colleague — who is not required to answer phones, by the way — offers to take the call so I can get back to our visitors.)

Me: “I’m going to pass you on to my colleague, because I have a line of customers here who need help, but she will help you find the best way to get there.”

Caller: “Customers? What’s going on there? Is there an event?”

Me: “No, no event today.”

Caller: “Then what customers do you have?”

Me: “We have tourists visiting here every day.”

Caller: “Is this the gift shop?!”

Me: “Yes. I’m passing you on to my colleague now.”

(She takes the phone while I apologize to our paying customers. I can overhear her telling him basically the same things I said and apparently getting the same backlash. Ultimately I hear her say, “We don’t work for the MTA or that church, but the MTA’s website has a function to help you find the best route,” and shortly after that the call is over and my line has died down.)

Me: “What did he say when you told him you don’t work for the MTA?”

Colleague: “He said, ‘But you’re New Yorkers!’”

Turning Your Tears Into Wine

, | Boulder, CO, USA | Learning | May 26, 2017

(I have just turned 70. We’re having a birthday celebration, and the kids have signed a card for me.)

Sixth-Grade Girl: “Happy birthday! You’re a whole year closer to meeting Jesus!”

What Would Your People Say?

| Germany | Related | May 4, 2017

(My dad died when I was very young. My mum was never very religious, more of an agnostic, but raised Catholic, and my grandparents from my father’s side insist that she and us kids become part of their congregation for support. Sadly a lot of the older church members aren’t very approving of my mum’s status as a ‘single mother’ now, and her very obvious disinterest in most of the faith. To become members, both my mum and my brother and I have to have separate private chats with the pastor, where he just asks us about our previous church’s doctrine, our general religious life, and such. Obviously as kids we were mostly just asked if we believed in God and what we’d learned about the Bible so far, etc. Part of that is also the first confession, where we are supposed to confess our sins to be absolved.)

Pastor: “So, [My Name], what do you have that you’d like to confess? Remember, you can tell me anything you’ve never dared to tell anyone else.”

Me: “I have nothing to say.”

Pastor: “Well, you basically just tell me anything you’ve done that made you feel guilty. For example, if you lied to someone or stole something. You don’t have to pretend. Surely there are things you’ve done that you kept secret?”

Me: “No.”

Pastor: *somewhat amused* “Are you telling me you’ve never told a lie, or broken something and hid it, or maybe had a fight with another child?”

Me: “I have. But I’ve never kept it a secret.”

Pastor: “So were you proud of it, to tell people?”

Me: “I didn’t tell people. I wasn’t proud.”

Pastor: “So you kept it a secret, and now you can tell me.”

Me: “I didn’t tell people. I told my mum. I tell my mum everything!”

(The pastor couldn’t help but laugh at my mum ‘not being people,’ apparently, but he didn’t pry any more and instead we had a long chat about how I was never afraid to confess things to my mum, even if I knew it was bad and I might be punished, because I just felt like she’d never judge me for it or be too harsh. Years later my mum told me that afterwards the pastor had called her and commended her on raising her children with so much trust and honesty. The old church members never really stopped being judgemental about my mum, but the pastor really liked her and she became a very active member of the children’s groups at church.)

Caught In The Middle With You

| UT, USA | Related | April 28, 2017

(When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was very undecided about what her middle name should be. My mother-in-law helped deliver her in an unplanned home delivery, and joked that I should name my daughter after her, or use some combination of our names. My mother-in-law also doesn’t have a middle name. In the end, my daughter ends up without a middle name. This takes place after her blessing ceremony at our church.)

Mother-In-Law: “So, no middle name?”

Me: “Yup. I couldn’t decide on a name when it was time to fill out the application for her birth certificate, so I figure that means she doesn’t need one.”

Mother-In-Law: *jokingly* “Dang, I was hoping she’d be named after me since I helped bring her into the world!”

Father-In-Law: “Look at it this way: she got the same middle name as you in the end!”

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