Monday, January 15, 2007

And This is Why I'm Probably Going to Hell

It’s not the only reason I’m gong to hell, but it’s probably a major contributing factor. I walked into my office building this morning, freezing my ass off and grumpy as hell because Starbucks ran out of soy milk and I was latte-less. Just as I’m turning the corner and fishing my keys out of my purse to unlock my office, a co-worker comes up to me and asks me to come into her office.

Now, before I actually get to the part that’s going to send me to hell, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. You know…so you can have a proper visual of this and all. First of all, I think I’ve spoken to this women maybe 7 times in my life. It’s not as though I’m good friends with her; she barely qualifies as an acquaintance. The second thing to keep in mind is that while her office is decorated with pictures of Jesus and an abundance of silk plants and plastic grapes (no, really), mine has photos from Paris, a picture of The Ramones and a sign that says “Shhh…I’m under the desk hiding from the voices in my head”. Basically what I’m getting at is this: If you walk into our respective offices, you can sort of tell we’re a wee bit different from each other.

I walk into the Land of the Fake Plastic Trees (god, I love Radiohead) and sit down, all the while wondering what it is this woman, let’s just call her Sheila, needs to talk to me about. I doubt very seriously that it can be work related, since we’re in completely different departments. I don’t actually remember cutting her off in the parking lot or anything – so that can’t be what she needs to talk to me about. I’m even more confused when Sheila looks at me with this odd expression on her face and says “There’s something I wanted to tell you this weekend, but I didn’t know how to get in touch with you”.


I just sort of sit there waiting for her to continue and what follows is the most horrific conversation I can ever remember having with someone I barely know. While you will not immediately understand why I found this conversation horrifying, don’t worry…I’ll get to that part.

The conversation went pretty much as follows:

Me: Okay, well what was it you needed to speak with me about

Sheila: I just found out on Saturday that ex-sister-in-law has a brain tumor.

Me (wondering why she’s telling me this): I’m really sorry to hear that.

Sheila: Yes, it’s really terrible. They’re telling her that the tumor is benign.

Me: Well, that’s good, at least it isn’t malignant.

Sheila (looking completely shocked): No, that’s the worst thing it could be, that means she has cancer.

Me (knowing that this is not going to end well): Actually, benign means that it’s NOT cancer.

Sheila: Well, that’s not the point. The point is I had something I want to ask you.

Me: Okay, what is it?

Sheila: Will you please pray for my ex-sister-in-law when you go to church next week?

Me (completely flabbergasted at this point): Um….I don’t go to church.

Sheila (looking ready to douse me in holy water): WHAT?!?! What do you mean?

Me: It’s simple…I mean that I don’t go to church

Sheila (about to start screaming “the power of Christ compels you” like the priest in The Exorcist): But…But…But…. Don’t you believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour?

Me: Look, I’m sorry about your sister in law, but I really don’t like talking about religion and I find it extremely inappropriate to discuss it at work.

Sheila (head about to explode): So you’re not going to pray for her?!?!

Me: Um, excuse me, but I think I hear my phone ringing...gotta go.

Now, I’m sure that there are some of you that are wondering exactly what I have a problem with. Well…first of all, why was this woman shocked because I don’t go to church? I’d have to say that as far as religion goes, I’d best be described as agnostic. To say I’m ambivalent when it comes to organized religion is probably an understatement, but years of having Catholicism shoved down your throat will do that to a girl.

Now, it’s not that I don’t hope that this woman gets better. It’s not like I hold any ill feelings towards this person, I just don’t see why I should pray for her when I’m not all that sure that anyone is listening to these prayers. Sure, I could have just told Sheila that I’ll pray for her sister in law, but wouldn’t that be a) extremely hypocritical and b) inappropriate at best, especially when you consider that I have no intention of doing so?

Yeah, I know…I’m sure this is probably pissing some people off, but I can’t really help what I believe. That’s why they are called beliefs rather than universal truths…and this is one of those things I’m not so sure I believe. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m saying that in order for me to accept it, I’m going to need empirical evidence, which no one has ever been able to give me.

But the look that Sheila gave me…it’s like she expected me to burst into flames right before her eyes.

The really perverse and twisted part of my psyche also wanted to tell her that I sacrifice kittens and make fun of orphans in my spare time. Because...ya know…she probably suspects that I do anyway.


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