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Five Routine Minutes: That Road Heads North Too

On Monday night I got to watch the football team from my beloved University of Maryland open the season with a win. As I watched the game, the prominence of the Maryland state flag on the team’s (hideous) new uniforms reminded me of an incident several years ago. It happened far from my home state, far from campus…in my office in North Carolina.

The organization I work for has always had chaplains on staff. My section was assigned a new chaplain. I was working at my desk and heard him come in and start introducing himself to everyone as he passed them. I got up from my desk as he got to me. Things were pretty standard at first.

I don't know why his wife had to be there. I wasn't going to question him about it if she didn't show.

I shook hands with them both and we did the small talk thing. Then Reverend Bob said something completely off the wall.

A nazi flag? My first thought was that someone was playing a joke on me. Practical jokes are part of the culture of my workplace, but there is an unwritten code of what is and isn’t acceptable. A symbol of hate would be far from acceptable.

I searched my work area for the offensive flag, but didn’t see it. The only flag present was an image of the Maryland flag fluttering on my computer screen saver. I pointed at it and asked if that was what he was talking about. It was.

At work, I am always about the sir and ma'am thing.

I explained to Reverend Bob that I grew up in Maryland and graduated from its top-notch university. I tried to laugh off his gaffe because it was such an awkward situation. Mrs. Reverend Bob was looking at him like he was an idiot. Neither of us knew how determined he was to prove her correct.

You see, some people in the southern U.S. are not fond of people moving to the area then constantly talking about how they did things back where they used to live. They see that sort of thing as demeaning and they do not tolerate it well. But all I had done was say I was from Maryland. Reverend Bob went on the attack.

The highway you came here on heads north too. Maybe you should get back on it.

Now, by the power vested in him, Reverend Bob was kicking me out of North Carolina. He was really starting to irritate me. If part of his job was to save my soul, he was doing a lousy job of it.

Yes, my soul is a white orb with angel wings.

I try to be polite, even to rude people. In this case, I stopped trying.

Reverend Bob gave me his business card and said “call me some time, we’ll talk about your spiritual needs.” I don’t even talk about spiritual needs with people I like. I knew I wasn’t going to do it with this guy and I told him so.

Sometimes my soul kind of eggs me on a bit.

Reverend Bob complained to my boss’ boss. Apparently he found being called Sparky pretty offensive. I meant it that way.

I got called into my boss’ office to explain why I was calling a minister a sarcastic name. I recognize when you say it like that, it does sound kind of bad. Fortunately, I have a reputation in the organization for being fairly polite. The boss didn’t hassle me all that much once I told him the story.

He did ask me not to call any clergy person Sparky until after he retired.

I'm not sure why my soul didn't come into the office with me. That was so uncool of him.

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52 Comments on “Five Routine Minutes: That Road Heads North Too”

  1. As a pastor’s wife – it’s not all that uncommon to cross paths with the Sparkies out there. That doesn’t make it any less mortifying, I especially feel for his wife. While reading this, I laughed out loud…while at my job….at a church.

  2. Does he really wear a bow tie?

  3. Amy says:

    What the – ? He deserved to be called much worse than “Sparky.” I applaud your restraint. Love your boss’s reaction, though! Did you stick around long enough to see him retire?

  4. KathiD says:

    I hope you will enjoy your eternity in Hell.

    I will try to be in your welcome committee.

  5. KathiD says:

    Good plan. You start.

  6. Lenore Diane says:

    As a resident of Georgia, I have a tendency to – um – brag about my New England parents. Having lived in MD for two years, I proudly wave the MD flag and support the U MD Terps. Okay, that last part isn’t true. Bless your heart for putting up with Sparky. (HA!)

  7. Katybeth says:

    God recognized dumb asses…I think you soul is safe..I hope Mrs. Sparky is praying extra hard for her husband soul, tho.
    Sometimes you have to stand for something or you will fall for anything..obviously your boss got it.

  8. tsanda says:

    blurt i thought when people in maryland graduated their gown was the terps jerseys pattern?

  9. Laura says:

    Are you sure he said Nazi and not NASCAR? Because with the checkerboard areas on the design, I could kind of see that.

    Maybe Rev. Sparky was just really lazy, and alienating people was a deliberate strategy to reduce the amount of work he had to do.

    Love the song, BTW. I’d never heard it before.

    • omawarisan says:

      I like the lazy theory. I just wish he’d have started it before me. He told all the other people jokes and that he was praying for them. He called me a nazi and ejected me from the state. The nazi thing was really bad and that ejection would have cost me my retirement!

      On the song, I highly recommend Will Kimbrough. Very talented writer and performer.

  10. A. If you get kicked out for real(z), Maryland will be glad to welcome home its prodigal son. However, you probably shouldn’t oughta display a Confederate flag on your work computer screen when you get here.

    B. How geeky is it that I am so very, very proud of your comma usage in image 6? It’s one of those occasions where punctuation makes a difference. Clearly, you went to a top-notch university.

  11. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    I thought Maryland was a southern state? It sure as hell looks like the south when you’re in southwestern PA.

    I was unaware there were nazis in Maryland.

    I’m surprised you didn’t make a rebel flag crack… but that would be a bad idea in North Carolina, I suppose.

    • omawarisan says:

      There was a lot more I wanted to say, but it’s probably better I didn’t.

      My boss was laughing when he came to me and said that the word had come down that I was accused of cursing at the chaplain and calling him a name. He started with “I know they must have the names mixed up, but they said you…”. You should have seen the look on his face when I said I had done it. I’d hve gotten spanked for going much farther.

  12. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Wow. Nothing at all “reverential” about that turd of a man. I’d have loved to be in on your talk with him about your “spiritual needs.” Seems to me that he’s been driving down a highway crashing into cars all along the way. It’s hard to imagine how that guy could comfort anyone. I bet his wife dreads meeting people with him along.

    • omawarisan says:

      The spiritual needs part cracked me up. What part of that incident made him think he was the one I would open up to? I appreciate people who stick to their goals, but sometimes a person has to say “I am not the one for this particular job”.

      His wife was so apologetic. She didn’t say a word, but she was so apologetic and I appreciated her very much. I think she’d been there before.

  13. planetross says:

    You made me look up what the flag of Maryland looked like!

    “Maryland is the only state in the union that has a specific guideline not only on how to display the flag but on what the flagpole should look like as well.”

    Maryland seems to take their flag pretty serious.

  14. Kim Pugliano says:

    One of my first weeks of college some religious whatever approached me in the Student Union to invite me to bible study. I nicely declined and when he asked why, I responded, “Because I’m Jewish.” He then informed me, “Did you know you will never make it to the kingdom of heaven?” I was dumbfounded and may have used a few curse words. No, I definitely did.

  15. Spectra says:

    It’s a good thing he didn’t save your soul. This blog might exude a markedly different spiritual message, otherwise.

    Uh, btw…what is your spiritual msg? And is the Jolie some kind of prophet? Hey, wait…maybe that minister of sinister was on to something..

    • Spectra says:

      Hey, Oma! I’m having trouble locating your post about the Weinermobile -I mentioned it in a former post and wanted to create a link… furthermore, I can’t even search by month, as your searchbar is kicking me around and to nowhere inparticular. I need a calendar, and archive, SOMETHING (would be italics) Thanks. Spectra

  16. […] For example, in the 6th grade, Mrs. Perry was fond of giving out repetitious 500 word ‘assignments’ to chatty students, where the student was forced to write fancy words like “rhetoric” and “motor-mouth” over and over again, until their hands fell off. I got punished routinely this way, and I’m pretty sure she gave me carpel tunnel syndrome. O! If only I’d had more litigious parents! I could be driving my very own Weinermobile today! (read about his Weinermobile at Blurt: https://blurts.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/five-routine-minutes-that-road-heads-north-too/#comment-20489 ) […]

  17. Jane says:

    This is one of your finest posts; here’s a list of why I am so impressed:
    1. Multi-media!! Text, graphics, and sound!
    2. I know what a soul looks like
    3. “Sparky”
    4. Nice boss!
    5. Your soul talks to you; that’s powerful.

    • omawarisan says:

      Sparky has become my default insulting spur of the moment nickname for people who display stupidity with pride.

      That boss had his moments, that was one. There are some who’d have hung me for offending the chaplain. I do have to make sure everyone knows that I have a lot of respect for clergy people, hate that this one went out of his way to give his respect up.

      The soul thing is fun, but sometimes if I change direction too fast and its right behind me, its kind of like walking through a spider web

  18. sistainsane says:

    Although I love stationary, business cards included, I can’t help but be disturbed about mixing business with spirituality. It just doesn’t sit well with me. Unless, perhaps, he had hand-written the business cards? That might be a tad more personal. I’m hoping he hand wrote them.

  19. linlah says:

    You wear glasses? Ray-Ban Aviators for sure.

  20. Blogdramedy says:

    Maybe if the Chaplain was color blind, cross-eyed, wearing sunglasses and with a bag over his head he could get a Nazi symbol from the Maryland flag.

    I hope he gets assigned to Maryland one day. Just for fun. 🙂

  21. hansi says:

    Loved the art work.

  22. We went on a cruise last year and were seated at a dinner table with 3 couples who had recently celebrated their 40 year anniversaries. As we went around the table introducing ourselves we listed what we did and where we were from. Tablemate A said that he was retired and we moved on. Four nights later he brings a binder to dinner and says “You asked what I do for a living so I thought I would show you”. He told us he was a pastor for a church and then tried to convert us and to get us to tithe a whole paycheck to his church.

    In order to persuade us that it was the right thing to do, he told us this story:

    “My wife was skeptical about doing it, but she gave her first paycheck of the year to “the lord” and a week later won $4000 at the casino. As a matter of fact we’ve both seen our luck change. I even won this cruise at the casino.”

    Hmm. Good luck with that Sparky.

  23. The Jagged Man says:

    The first thing that popped in my head at the pastors comment on the flag was “Really?” After I read “The highway you came here on heads north too. Maybe you should get back on it.” I thought “Oh no he didn’t!” Sparky needs to read your blog to know what a balanced and level headed individual looks like, since “He ain’t been reading the good book (read in a southern accent)!”
    Awesome post Oma!

  24. Richard L. Staples says:

    What is wrong with the Nazi Flag, it’s on my Google Wallpage, & I proud of it. My uncles fought in the Waffen SS, & my Father is from the US & his ship the U.S.S MORRISON was sunk by 4 kamakazee’s. So what’s the deal? Oh it’s the dam JUDEN Bosses like usually.

  25. dottiemaggie says:

    So, I had to check out this flag. Not gonna lie, it’s kind of hard to look at :S But it in no way made me think of nazis. What an ignoramus.

    And now I want someone to try to say “that highway blah blah blah” to me! Because then I can laugh. Because it totally doesn’t. We’re on an island. I’d have to go backwards to go elsewhere.
    Though, to be fair to Newfoundlanders, I have never heard of any of them being quite that rude to come from aways….

    And my respect for the clergy, not at all improved after reading this. Weeeeee!

    (finally, while scrolling down to leave my comment, seen you say in a reply you wear bifocals as of this year…. SAME HERE! and can I just say I am unimpressed with how bloody expensive they are? ugh. )


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