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Alabama Bible Thumping Jesus Cult

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What else can I say, but I thought that I had a job today. I did have a job, that is, if I wanted it. But wait; let me back up a bit here and start at the beginning, I came across an advertisement looking for canvassers for an environmental cause. "That's cool," I said to myself, "I can help the environment plus some coins in my pocket."

So I dusted off Resume10.0 and E-mailed it off to the address listed and in just a few hours, I got a call from a guy named Sam. He told me, to come on down today at 11:00 for an interview. When I get there however, first, I had to fill out some forms, I sat on the end of this long row of chairs, along with several women who were also filling out forms. 

The room was awash in subtle nervous tension, this was after all, a job interview. I was reminded of that, by the woman sitting next to me whose stomach kept growling loudly. The walls of this room were covered in environmental posters describing the project we would be canvassing for. The forms we were filling out were pretty perfunctory, nothing too complicated or legal. I was almost immediately called into a small room for my interview by the young man named Carey. He had greeted us earlier in blue jeans and a tee shirt, his mussed hair hanging over the edge of his eyeglasses.

I know this is sort of off the subject, but I once had contact with a religious cult in Alabama. And brother, those are the worst kind. Two brothers, called the Hill Brothers, had begun this Bible thumping Jesus cult. My friend Joe had dared me to go with him to hear their spiel. Of course, this was back in the day, back when cable TV was still a new idea. We had a good buzz going by the time we arrived at Bible cult headquarters. The faithful greeted us with "Praise Jesus" and lovingly raised hands as they invited us two stoners in and offered us some homemade sassafras tea.

After our tea, Brother Kenneth came and took us into what was formerly, a small bedroom. In the center of the wall in front of us was a large picture of "you know who" mounted on a sky blue wall with tall green plants situated as bookends. As Brother Kenneth ministered the good word to us, poor sinners, he was himself, framed by the room. Brother Kenneth had surrounded himself images and symbols in a not too subtle attempt to play on our subconscious emotions.

So Carey and I entered a small room with only two wooden chairs facing each other. The room felt like a police questioning, but Carey was very cool. He asked a few questions and every answer I gave was a great answer. I began to wonder if he wasn't putting me on, but hey, this was a great environmental cause. Sure, it didn't pay all that much and the hours were lousy, but it was still a good cause. Carey told me more about the environmental problem we were working on, he then gave me eighteen pages of things which I needed to know, but the most important thing I needed to know before I returned in the morning was the sales speech.

Greeting: Hi, how are you?

Intro: My name is ___________, and I'm with XXXXXXXXXXXX

You know the drill; you've heard it all before when your phone rings at dinner time.

Job Description & Training

"Your basic mission is straightforward, to build the organization, to raise funds by signing up members. To educate the public about the seriousness and urgency of the problems facing all of us and to mobilize citizen support for real solutions to those problems so we have the strength to defeat the special interests behind the status quo."

What does that mean besides, good guys versus bad guys? It means raise money or your fired, win them over to your side if you can, and maybe, get them to sign your petition, but by all means get them to throw in the suggested donation of $60.00

"You are required to make quota at least once in your first three shifts to remain on staff. Beginning the week after the first day you make quota, you are required to average quota for each work week. Quota for the work week is pro-rated to take into account the number of days worked if fewer or greater than five. If you fail to average quota in any work week following your first week, you will be given a warning, and must average quota the following work week in order to remain on staff. You will be permitted two warnings in any twelve month period. If you fail to average quota in any three non consecutive work weeks during any twelve-month period, you will not be able to remain on staff. If you miss your quota for three consecutive shifts you will not be able to remain on staff".

It was getting even more complicated with a 30% commission on donations up to $100 and 10 % there after. Yet, as I read page after page of instructions, more of the vision thing of helping the environment faded away and the image emerged of a sales company. I have worked for sales companies before, only this time, we were selling a good cause. There was something wrong with this picture, Carey with his laid back, tee shirt patter and his talk of democracy and saving the environment didn't jibe with the authoritarian, sales manger paper work.

Something was wrong here; Capitalism had reduced even the good cause to a profit center. It flashed back to me, my day in the Alabama Bible thumping Jesus cult, minus the sassafras tea. Carey; was just Brother Kenneth. Instead of tea, we were given pointless forms to fill out while we absorbed the images in the fund raising chapel. We were interviewed in a small room just like we were with Brother Kenneth. Brother Kenneth wanted us to love Jesus and to go sell Jesus to others. Carey wanted me to love the cause and go out and sell cause to others and both wanted me to bring back money. 

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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