Dead People at my Desk
Article can also be read at www.inkedemerald.com
What it’s really like to work at a church:
Dead people are left on my desk regularly. They come in little cardboard boxes from the crematorium and they are always left on my desk. Their arrival is rarely planned for or expected. No, it doesn’t creep me out. If anything it makes me feel awkward. I was so awkward with the first dead person left on my desk, that I talked to him and asked how he was doing. I thought it was a good way to break the obvious tension between us. I didn’t know the janitor had overheard me talking to the dead person on my desk and he still looks at me funny more than 6 months later. I can now count all the dead people left on my desk on more than one hand…and thats just this years count.
Yes, people do come in with extremely weird requests. I have had people ask me to help them fix everything from their home-use pencil sharpeners to wardrobe malfunctions. When I tell you they asked me to fix it, I mean instead of going to somewhere like best buy or a seamstress to have their problems attended to by a professional in that line of work, they drove out of their way to see me about the issue with the item that needed fixing in tote. I have become a google-search master and an expert at fixing a lot of nonsense. I even had a person ask if I could find all eleven of their cats a home one time. My resume should read Director of Communications: Google extraordinaire, Animal shelter liaison, Notable mechanic skills. This list could keep going.
And if those requests aren’t weird enough, then here, I can top that. Yes, I have been asked, by parishioners, if I can sell them pot. While I fully support you toking your ganja in your spare time if thats what you want, NO I CANNOT SELL YOU MARIJUANA. Sometimes I think people forget God is my employer.
Sometimes people leave pants on my desk. It has happened more than once. Why are we in the church without pants people?
The old ladies at my church know more gossip than (xoxo) Gossip Girl, and they are more stylish than I could ever wish to be, despite my efforts to be polished, modern, and presentable. These women can keep a straight face talking naughty, could easily drink my sorry butt under the table, and like to tell me about when they used to wear hot pants.
More about leaving things on my desk – people regularly leave me cards, fruit, homemade jam, sweet notes, pies, flowers, and tickets to ballets. It rocks.
Sometimes people leave their children with me. Please don’t do that. I promise I will feed your kids as much candy as possible in your absence for leaving them with me when I am busy. I am not a babysitting service. I am far to busy dealing with dead people and pants.
I can cuss like a trucker but it will always startle me when people come into my office and drop F-bombs. It happens A LOT….Jesus can hear you. He lives here.
Wassail parties are a thing. Oh you don’t know what Wassail is? Its literally a punch bowl filled with alcohol, and holiday spices.
I coordinate weddings. Those are pretty cool. We can add that to my resume too.
Oh yeah, and did I tell you I have taught line dancing to the church before? Youtube came in handy for this one.
Sometimes I get people with a lot of need. Hungry, unbathed, neglected and mentally ill. I’d like tell you churches are equipped to handle these situations with compassion and patience, but we are just people doing the best we can. I am best known in the office for once and a while smelling a little questionable because I hug a lot of people. I started keeping perfume in my desk. It doesn’t always help.
When I don’t know how to help you, chances are I am going to sit your child at my desk with my personal stash of markers (because I am a childless adult who rolls around with markers in their handbag), leave work, and buy you groceries. This happens a lot.
If you come to church I WILL NOT push God on you. I will however ask how your day is going, offer you a cup of water, and send you on your merry way without even mentioning religion. Faith is a deeply, DEEPLY, personal thing, and you don’t have to be of the same faith as me, or the establishment at which I am employed, to come here and be taken care of. Many people (and congregations) forget this.
I don’t agree with everything the congregation does, or all of the people in it. I choose to love them anyway. They are trying.
Please don’t ask me to explain the purpose of “church aerobics” during Sunday morning services. I don’t get it either, and yes I am 8 steps behind and the only one still standing thank you very much.
If you ask me for a Bible, I will give you one from the pew for free, and then pay for it out of my own paycheck. I have done it before. I don’t mind.
Sometimes people come into church asking for wine or the communion bread. It makes me very uncomfortable. Often times when people come to get that other than on Sunday morning, it’s because they want to burn the communion; an act against the faith of the church.
We have had lock downs because of gunmen on our property. There have been threats against our church because we openly welcome a diverse community to worship with us. I’m not naive, I am just not afraid of you. If I was a fearful person, I would have left after the dead bodies or homeless traffic that regularly visits my office.
I am a deeply spiritual person. This is my truth, unaffiliated with the traditions of any single faith. Because I am spiritual, and often times thrown off by the behavior of church congregations, and religious people alike, I never saw myself being employed by a church. But alas, I work as the Director of Communications on the side of my own business at a local church, and I can say I absolutely love it. I get to know the lives of the people I work with and for every day. I know their children and grandchildren. I know their fears, their struggles, what they are suffering with and their triumphs. I know their birthdays, and I never miss a single one. I know their stories. They have become my family. I get to care for those in need. I get to hug them. I get to learn who they are, and every time I learn a little bit I become a little softer, and a little bit better care-giver.
So what has working at a church taught me?
Be aware that not all churches are alike. I have learned to stop generalizing religion, even as a spiritual person. Always give the person a hug, even if they smell bad. Shut up and listen. Google could solve most of our problems. Death isn’t pretty, it doesn’t even come with a bow. Giving always feels better than receiving.
I have learned to give my heart away.