Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lack of a job well done

Sometimes I really appreciate it when people don't do their job. Be it a job they are paid for with money, i.e., career, etc., or whether it be a job they get paid for with 'blessings'.

Take this morning for example. Last night as I was leaving work I was packing up my ear bud headphones. They are the type with the little rubber caps that sit in your ear canal, block out external sound, and sound pretty good. Anyway, the one fault with these headphones, (aside from the fact that they tend to get coated with ear wax every time they are used, no matter how clean you think your ears are), is that the little rubber pieces like to fall off the headphone piece and become lost in various random places. I've lost the little buggers a million times, and always somehow managed to find them. Well, last night when I was packing up to leave work, I gingerly wrapped up my headphones to put them in my bag and head home. I even have a little baggy I put the headphones in so other things in my bag don't accidentally knock the rubber bits off. I normally don't ever get them out at home because I'm too busy doing fatherly things like playing with kids, giving baths, reading books to kids, and laying by kids. But last night I had to fix a car. When I pulled the car into the garage, I went to my work bag to retrieve my ipod so as to listen to some music on my stereo in the garage whilst I labored on the auto mechanics. I was very dismayed to find that when I pulled the baggy out that contained the ipod and my headphones, one of the rubber pieces from the headphones was MISSING!!! I probed the innards of my work bag with my fingers trying to find the little piece, but came up empty-handed. I was sad. I've had these headphones for about two years and had grown quite fond of them. So, I sadly plugged the ipod in to my stereo and proceeded with the auto repair with a heavy heart over the loss of my beloved headphones.

Fast forward to this morning. I arrived at work, and what should I find, but my little rubber bit, sitting on the floor in my office. We have a cleaning lady that is supposed to clean our offices every night. Her duties include dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and other general custodial work. She is not good at her job. The office rarely if ever gets dusted, something that has annoyed me, but which I've gotten used to. I assumed that she vacuumed daily, but I was glad to find this morning that she also neglects that job duty. Thank you, cleaning lady, for sucking at your job. I can now enjoy my beloved headphones for another day.

Another area where I enjoy people not doing their job is in the home teachers that are assigned to my family. I LOVE it when people do not visit me on a monthly basis. I am not joking. We've had several home teachers assigned to us over the years we've lived in this ward. The ones I've liked are the ones who agree to our arrangement, which is as follows:

I do not need you to 'check up on me' every month. Generally by the time you squeeze in your visit at the end of the month to meet your quota, you're already calling me to schedule the next month's appointment. This is not desirable to me. I have enough going on in my family and professional life to keep me busy 24-7, without also making time for you to come and give me a gospel message in my home. I attend church every week and if you want to 'check up on me' you can do so when you bump into me in the hall at church. If I need something, and deem the home teachers as the best solution to my need, I WILL CONTACT YOU. That said, consistent with the church's mantra of self-reliance, I tend to work my problems/needs out on my own and won't normally require the 'help' of home teachers or anyone else from the church. If I need to move, I pack, load, and move my things myself. If I need to clean up weeds in my yard, I am totally capable of doing so on my own. Save your service project for those really in need, such as elderly widows, invalids, and lazy people, none of which are in short supply in our ward. As long as you respect my privacy and desire to NOT have monthly visitors, then we can be friends, and you can count me as 100% for your monthly home teaching numbers. If not, and you insist on calling me every month to try to schedule a home visit, I will put you off, avoid you, and not return your phone calls. Please note: Unannounced drop by visits will be greeted with hostility and rude manners, possibly worse.

Sometimes the home teachers are fine with this arrangement and are even relieved to not have to call me every month. Others feel like they need to 'magnify their calling' against my will, and still insist on trying to guilt me in to letting them come by every month. (I would actually be fine with them dropping by for a normal visit, as long as I'm not busy with family responsibilities. The problem lies in the fact that they tend to drop by at the worst possible times (dinner time or tub time), and then not be able to take the hint that it's not a good time. Also, the problem is that they don't give a genuine crap about me or my family, have no desire for a normal friendship type relationship, but care only to push the mandated gospel message flavor of the month so they can return and report their statistical excellence/valiance in propagating the Lord's kingdom on earth, aka keeping up appearances.)

I have much more to say about home teaching, and home visits in general, which I will write more of later. For now, thank you cleaning lady that doesn't clean, and home teachers that don't home teach. I appreciate you sucking at your jobs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Family isn't good enough without the mirrors that go on forever.

A while back my mom called me up on the phone to give me the latest family gossip. I normally handle this by holding the phone to my ear as I watch a sporting event on the tv or read a book, throwing in the occasional grunt or gasp as appropriate to let her know I'm 'still listening'. Yes, listening. I don't do a lot of talking when on the phone with my mom. She's a dear woman, but not the best listener. When she does listen, all responses are pre-programmed, directly implanted by the church.
Me: "I lost my job, my car is broken down and all my kids have strep throat."
Mom: "Aren't you blessed to have kids?"

This is just how it is with my mom. She doesn't know any better, has never had to struggle with independent thought, etc. 100% of her focus in life is the church, church callings, how can she be better in the church, what more can she do for the church, etc. When she visits SLC, she mustn't stay too long as she needs to hurry and get home for church.

So, anyway, on this particular day she calls me up with the express purpose of wanting to discuss her idea that: "It would be so wonderful if I could have all of my kids in the temple with me sometime this year."
Me: "Not gonna happen, mom."
Mom: "Well, why not?"
Me: "#1 Sister lives with her boyfriend out of wedlock and has never been to the temple. #2, I don't have a recommend and don't forsee ever having one again."
Mom: "Oh! Don't say that. It hurts me so much when you say that. You were raised better than that, blah blah blah."

I asked my mom why she thought we needed a 'special event' like all of us being together in the temple to get together. She said she just feels so close to our Heavenly Father in the temple and would love nothing more than to have all of her children there with her, to feel close to the spirit and close to our (deceased) father. Now, for reference, I live in SLC with my wife and family. Brother, his wife and kids live in St.G. Sister 1 lives in Los Angeles, Sister 2 lives in Cedar City, mom and step-dad live in Northern Nevada. It is not common for us to all be gathered together very often. When we do it's usually very brief. I asked my mom whether she thought it would be a good idea to try to plan a time during the summer, when travelling weather is good, for us to call meet up for a couple days to let the kids play, visit together, and just enjoy each others' company. She said, yes, but it would just be so much more special if we could top it off with a temple session all together. I told her, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to give that to you...nor would I want to spend 3 hours in a temple session when we only get to see each other so very infrequently. I would much rather visit, laugh, eat, watch the kids interact with their cousins, etc., than sit across the isle from my wife and stand up and sit down repeatedly while someone else watches me kids. I can't get much visiting done with my siblings whilst watching the movie in the temple. She of course didn't appreciate that light-mindedness.

Why isn't it enough to get together with family and enjoy the company of those loved ones that we see so rarely? Why does Jesus always have to come to the party?

You can't come, but we'd love to invite you, just kidding.

I do not hold a current TR. It's been a while. After the birth of our second child, and the medical bills that went along with that, we could no longer afford to pay tithing. It was not something we made a decision about, there just simply wasn't enough money left over to pay that money to the church any more. It was something we felt bad about, and planned to correct, but to this point we have not. So, our TRs expired. No one ever contacted us for a renewal interview, nor did we seek out an interview ourselves.

Fast forward to this past Spring. Phone rings. "Hello, Bishop, how are you? Yes, fine, thanks." The bishop is now calling me directly. This despite the fact that he wouldn't recognize me on the street, although we attend church EVERY week and have been in this ward for nearly 10 years now. Anyway, the bishop proceeds to tell me that the ward is having a temple session outing that week and wanted to call and invite us personally. I was instantly livid.

I calmly stated, "Bishop, we do not have a current TR."
His response: "Oh, yes, I see that now. We need to get you in here to find out what we can do to change that. I also see you have not been paying your tithing, is that what your concern is?"
Me: "No, I'm not concerned about anything, I just don't have a TR right now. I'll let you know when we're ready to come in and talk about it, but I don't appreciate you knowing damn well we don't have a TR, yet calling and feigning an invitation to us, even though you KNOW we wouldn't be able to attend even if we wanted to!"
Bishop: "Well, what can I do to help you resolve your concern about tithing?"
Me: "Again, I do not have a concern about it. I simply cannot afford to pay it. When I can, I'll let you know."
Bishop: "Well, Bro.ThouSayest, let me just bare my testimony to you that if you pay your tithing FIRST, you will be blessed and you will be rewarded by your Heavenly Father, who loves you."
Me: "Thanks for sharing your testimony with me. I DON'T have the faith that if I pay tithing first everything else will work out. Please do not talk to me about this again. If and when I am able to pay tithing I will let you know. Until then, please don't call to invite me to any more temple outings, it's dishonest."
Bishop: "Your Heavenly Father loves you."
Me: "Thanks, tell him hello for me."

To give him credit, I think his heart was in the right place. He is terribly socially awkward, totally unaware of how to converse like a normal person. I think he has struggled with that as a bishop and it's really forced him out of his comfort zone to have to talk to people about sensitive topics, like worthiness, etc. I think in his mind this was probably a clever way to bring up the lack of TR without ruffling too many feathers. So, I don't hold anything against him. But, still I think it was kind of a lame attempt.