It turns out that the dryer I was so desperately hoping to find installed in the basement on Saturday would not fit down the stairs, so landlady was forced to get the old one repaired. In the interest of hating draping my wet clothes on furniture, I volunteered to hang around and supervise the repairman while landlady went to work. “I have a very flexible schedule these days,” I told her, “It’s no problem.” Then, of course, she wound up scheduling the repairman the same day as Jewish Friend’s and my Superfunadventure Salem trip.
So I reneged on promise to landlady. In my defense, repairman was in a common area of the house– not an individual apartment, and this particular repairman has come to our house on at least two other occasions. He is not strange repairman unknown to me, but rather nice older man, who did a great job on my fridge.
I went downstairs, and spoke with repairman. During this conversation, he told me that he had to replace the sdhag.kjlhdf, and deal with the sjdkfgbhl;jkh, also the drier was in about 12 pieces– this was not going to be quick work.
“Well, my friend is here, so I need to take off pretty soon.”
“Oh, you have big plans?”
“Yes, we’re going to Salem for the day.”
“What do you do there?”
“There’s a lot of Nathanial Howthorne stuff, and a witch museum, should be fun. Would you mind giving me the bill, so I can write you a check?”
He graciously acquiesced and started tallying up the total. As he did his calculations, he glanced at me surreptitiously and asked, “Are you still reading the bible?”
At this question, I actually glanced around to see who he might be talking to, then realized that it was just the two of us in my basement, so he must be talking to me. “No.”
“Wasn’t that you? Weren’t we talking about the bible last time I was here?”
“No, that wasn’t me.”
Then he launched into a full on conversion narrative that caught me so off-guard that I just stood there listening and nodding and wondering how much longer he was going to talk.
After I escaped back upstairs, I told Jewish Friend what had just happened.
“What did you do?” she asked.
“Well, I listened, I didn’t know what else to do.”
“You are a lot more polite than I am, but I bet this hasn’t happened to you as much as it has me. I don’t think an atheist is as much of a coup as a Jew.” Then she told me some horror stories about the lengths people have gone to to make my Jewish Friend into my Christian Friend from Upstate New York.
Then there was a knock of the door, and the repairman was standing eagerly in front of my door with some literature–Abundant Life New Testament, and tucked into the book, a list of suggested readings.
Again, I was polite, but by this point I was seriously annoyed. I’m very live and let live when it comes to organized religion. It’s not for me, but if you get something out of it, by all means– good for you! It’s the proselytizing that I find not only disgusting, but offensive.
I don’t know if I triggered something in the repairman when I mentioned going to the witch museum (which we didn’t end up having time for), or if maybe he’s constantly casting about for people to indoctrinate, but either way, it was unwelcome.
When I dropped off the receipt to landlady later that night, I felt that I had to mention this. I have no idea where she is, religiously, but the whole exchange was very inappropriate considering the fact that she was paying for his time.
“I’ve never used him before, so I didn’t know he was like that.” She told me, “He kept trying to talk me out of having the dryer repaired, and just knocking down walls to fit a new one in, which I’m not willing to do.”
“I just thought I should tell you,” I said, “It made me really uncomfortable.” Then I went back downstairs feeling like the whole world was crazy. She had hired him before, he had fixed my fridge twice a little over a year ago. Does she really not remember, or does she just not care? This is also the second time I’ve had issues with a repairman for reasons un-understood by me.
From this point on, I’m going to be less nice and more direct. I’ve been planning on trying that out anyway, but I think this is my breaking point.