or How I Learned to Shut Up and Love My Coworkers
In the previous two issues of ROAR, I have let my readership of two, maybe three, people down in that there has been no “rampage.” Rest assured, this issue will indeed fill that tempestuous void in your existence. You need neither fear nor despair that I will talk of things fluffy, soft, or heart-warming. Instead, I will be tackling the subjects of brilliance, stupidity, and how those who reside in each category of intelligence views the other.
Over the past three years, I have become known to some of my coworkers as an absolute dunderbunny, a mental midget, and an irrational imbecile for the beliefs that I hold and upon which I act. The main categories of idiocy for which I am condemned are finances, family, and faith. I am convinced that in each of these areas, I have at least a modicum of intelligence; yet, I have learned to accept the title of fool.
“If you want to provide for your family, play the lottery.”
On a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis, my coworkers gather their funds together to buy lottery tickets. They wonder why on earth I do not play. They reason, “Don’t you want to provide for your family? Haven’t you complained that you sometimes don’t have enough to pay the bills? If you played the lottery, you could win and take care of your family. You can’t win if you don’t play!”
To them, it is obvious that I am dumb, or that I really don’t want to provide for my family, because I do not play the lottery with them. When I have said, “I can’t loose any money if I do not play,” they retort, “Yes you do, because you can’t win if you don’t play!” I have also argued quite unconvincingly that the lottery steals from the poor to give to the rich. My coworkers niether understand my financial, nor my moral grounds for rejecting the lottery. The four to seven dollars that they win every six months or so convinces them that they are right. I am the blithering idiot in the wrong.
“If you want to provide for your family, make your wife go to work.”
This argument, more than any that my coworkers make, infuriates me. The coworkers who make the argument assume that my wife sits on the sofa all day eating bon bons, and watching soap operas. I have tried to explain to them that my wife’s schedule is filled with therapy and education for my special needs daughter, cleaning, laundry, coupon/deal finding, and grocery shopping. Did I mention that she has also been doing baby sitting? Of course, one coworker said in a loud voice, “Well, baby sitting isn’t work!” I have heard one say on more than one occasion that housewives are lazy. On one of those occasions, she said that my wife was lazy! The fact that I did not punch her in the jaw for her comment is proof that God has indeed been working his sanctification in me.
For sake of argument, if I did make my wife get a job outside of the home, tell me how much would she have to make in order to pay for the special needs day care to which we would have to send Millie?
“If you want to provide for your family, eat out.”
This argument always has me scratching my head in wonder. Apparently, the coworkers who make this argument do not know how to shop at the grocery store. When they do eat at home, they buy groceries only for that occasion, not for the whole week. I assume that they also buy some expensive goods. It ends up being more expensive for them to buy groceries than to eat out; thus, when they see me carrying in homemade food for lunch, or when they hear me talking about the wonderful meal my wife made the previous evening, my coworkers wonder, “Why are you being so extravagant?” Did I mention how much time my wife plans the grocery list, or how much time she spends clipping coupons? We are thrifty when it comes to food.
“If you really knew what love was, you’d be on your second marriage.”
Many of my coworkers have been divorced and remarried. They make the false assumption, based on their own experience, that I do not know love. I know love not from marriage, nor from my wife, but from my Savior. He enables me to love my wife.
“If you were a good parent, you’d love your child more than your spouse.”
Most of my coworkers strongly adhere to the “child-centered” philosophy of parenting. They invest everything they can into the child, even at the expense of the spouse. The last time someone made this argument, I answered, “Are you married to your child? No? Did you not vow to forsake all others, including children, when you married your spouse?” She answered, “Yeah, but common sense says the child comes first.” How can you argue against “common sense?”
“If you were a good parent, Millie would be normal.”
This is another type of argument that makes me want to show people just how much Hung Gar Kung Fu I know. I have had one person insist that Millie could have been potty trained by the time she was twelve months. No matter how much I’ve tried to inform them about Autism, they just don’t understand why Millie is still not potty trained. Of late, I’ve come to the understanding that Autism is a normal part of an abnormal world. Stop trying to fix her, or make her “normal.” Start trying to understand her.
“If you were a Christian, you’d send back my letters.”
Up until recently, some of my coworkers have filled my Outlook box with chain letters of a popular religious theme. The end of these letters usually says, “IF YOU SEND THIS LETTER BACK TO THE PERSON WHO SENT IT TO YOU, AND SEND IT TO FIVE OTHER PEOPLE, YOU WILL BE BLESSED. IF YOU DON’T SEND THIS LETTER, THE CURSE OF GOD WILL REST UPON YOU!”
I’m so stupid, for after having been offered a blessing, and been warned of a curse, I chose the curse. My coworkers are quite befuddled by my behavior, because, after all, I am the “religious one.” Fortunately for me, KSP’s commissioner has cracked down on chain mails and phishing schemes that had been plaguing State workers.
I’ve learned to mentally laugh at most of the arguments that my coworkers use against me. These people, for the most part, are college educated people. They are not dumb, but are bound to a different worldview than I. What really matters in all of this is the question whether they view me as a fool for Christ, or just a fool. May Christ be magnified in my life at KSP, though I be thought a fool.
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 1 Cor 1:18-20
Originally published on August 23, 2010