03 October 2007

Satan Really Doesn't Want Me to Go to Church

I received two phone calls this weekend. I'll relate the second call first, as it was far less harmless.

C and I had been out of the house, and when we returned, there was a message from a brother in the ward asking if we "would be willing to clean the church tomorrow, since we missed our scheduled day last Saturday." Let me say that our scheduled day was certainly NOT that previous Saturday. It was a few Saturdays ago, and we were there. But I decided that when I returned his phone call I wouldn't mention this insignificant fact. When I called him and told him that I'm sorry, but we're unable to help tomorrow morning, he then said that "Well, it's our ward's turn again in December...blah blah blah." So, of course, I had to say something. I waited for him to finish and said, "Actually, did you say on the message that we weren't there last Saturday? You're right. We were there on Saturday the 8th, as assigned." He was silent for a second and then said, "Oh, I must have had you mixed up with someone else." Darn straight you do.

Can I ask a couple of questions about this? I'm okay with him not being able to pick us out of a line-up, but we're talking names and numbers on sheet of paper. How can that get mixed up? Also, he never even comes on those Saturdays to see who is there and who isn't. How could he have even known if we had skipped out on cleaning the church? Maybe it's just his ploy to get people to feel bad for shirking their duty and guilt trip them into helping last minute. Ha! We're on to you Brother!

And now for the much more offensive call. It's easier if I report it in transcript form. I will be known as "me" and the caller will be known as "
Miss Cleo," for reasons to become evident.

[Phone rings at the house of C and E. E answers. Please realize that we do not have caller ID at our house. Therefore the identity of the caller was unknown upon answering.]

me: Hello?
Miss Cleo: Good afternoon.
me: Hello??
Miss Cleo: Good afternoon.
me: Hello? [slightly annoyed]
Miss Cleo: Good afternoon.
me: Hello? [really annoyed and much louder]
Miss Cleo: Good afternoon.
me: Hello???? [I'm sure you can guess this one's tone.]

Miss Cleo: You know, it's okay to say "good afternoon" to me.
me: I didn't realize that I was supposed to say "good afternoon" to you.
Miss Cleo: Well in my country, if someone says "good afternoon," you should respond with "good afternoon."
me: Well, in my country, if someone keeps repeating "good afternoon" after I have said hello, I think it's because you can't hear me so I am going to keep repeating "hello." [Admittedly, I was probably getting a little snappy with Miss Cleo. But I really don't like people telling me how I should respond.]
Miss Cleo: Well you don't have to be like that.
me: Well I do. I'm just telling you that since we're in my country, this is how things work. I shouldn't be expected to know what you want me to say.
Miss Cleo: [Almost chuckling] Well, you're certainly a Leo, aren't you?
me: Well, yes, but that's besides the point....

Conversation soon comes to an end. She made me so upset that I was in tears about this. Reason? She made me feel like I couldn't even tell anyone about this (not even C, but too late because he was sitting on the couch listening to the entire conversation) because I would come across as the insensitive, hot-headed, bratty, snotty girl who can't even return a "good afternoon" when given one.

As a confession, I am extremely sensitive about this. I know that I'm not the same person I was when I was an undergrad in Utah. I know that living on the East Coast has made me really impatient of check writers at the grocery store, among other things. I have enough self-awareness to realize the changes that have taken place in me after moving to D.C, and possibly due to being 10 years older. Regardless of these recently-adopted quality traits, I still thought I was in the right. But I feared that when I told people this story, they would tell me to my face that that I did the right thing. Behind my back, however, they'd opine that I flew off the handle and should have just given her a "good afternoon."

And, how dare she then resort to astrology to explain this? Astrology?! What business is it of hers what sign I am? And how is that even relevant to our conversation!? ARGH. I vowed never to speak to her again. C is now on permanent phone answering duty.

Of course these two incidents were not enough to drive me to inactivity. They came from two members of the ward with whom I have very little contact. However, I do wonder if this would have been different if Miss Cleo were the RS president? Would I stay away from RS until she was released? I honestly don't know. But given the hurt I felt from Miss Cleo, I now have a small understanding of how people can be offended enough to stop coming to church.


Chris said...

Erin...you so did the right thing! I would have done the exact same thing...she didn't even let you know who she was...you didn't know...she could have been anyone and people need to announce themselves...This coming from a Montgomery County raised girl. Living where you do you must have the skills for survival that probably don't exist in the rest of the country or according to Ms Cleo in the rest of the world. I will tell you I do have caller ID and I still make people announce themselves. I say hello and people assume that you know who they are, and the majority of the time I do, but I still make them tell me who they are before I will speak to them. She should be embarrassed to see you not the other way around. Good for you! Maybe next time she calls she will give you the respect she should have in the first place because you didn't back down to her rudeness and that in a nutshell is a major survival tool in DC...you are doing well!

Amber said...

WOW! No way that went back and forth that many times!! Not that I don't believe you, it is just hysterical that she insisted on getting a "good afternoon" out of you. I seriously would've done the same thing...you guys have got to get caller ID.

Camie said...

You're right! She's ridiculous! And if she wants to maintain the culture of her own country she can do it in her own home OR GO BACK TO HER COUNTRY.

P.S. I'm looking for a good reason to stop going to church. So far I've just got laziness, but something like these phone calls might be enough for me.

Megan said...

This reminds me of the whole Canadian earing blog a few months back. I totally agree that she was out of line. I'm actually very impressed by your quick thinking. I probably would have just said the "Good Afternoon" to end the conversation more quickly and then fumed after I hung up. Poor Greg would have gotten an ear full of all I wish I had said. So, I praise you for saying what you did, because it's what I would have wanted to but wouldn't have thought of quickly enough.
Come to think of it, I did have an experience once when I said what I wanted to and I too was left crying at the end of it. I don't know if there really is a win situation when something like that happens.
"Miss Cleo" is not worth going inactive over, although I can see the temptation. Just realize you are probably not the first she's done this too and I think it's a sign of insecurity on her part. Maybe you can try and feel sorry for her instead of mad at her. Greg always likes to just thinking people are crazy in situations like these. It helps him not get so upset. I need to do that more myself. Hang in there.

linda said...

dude, you are far more polite than i, and i am in southern hospitality zone. i would have hung up after the second good afternoon and been done with it.

nckuhn said...

I think that it is rude for callers not to identify themselves immediately. "Hello, this is Daniel, Is so and so there?
It’s just appropriate and polite to introduce yourself.
Once I got a call from someone:
Me - Hello
Him - Hello, Who is this?
Me - Ummm... YOU called HERE, Who is THIS? (Very rude undertones)
Him - This is President Bryan (Branch President)

Oops on my part, I kind of felt bad for being so rude, but he should have known better. That is a huge pet peeve of mine. I think that you did very well Erin.

Niederfam said...

Oh my gosh, I'm with you of course...I probably would have assumed it was a prank call after the third hello??? And hung up!!! Yes, maybe she should go back to her own country. As for the man who needed your help cleaning, yet AGAIN!!! WOW!!! The nerve, better get your facts straight buddy!!!!