My friend wants to quit her job. She barely started it a few weeks ago, and she already cannot stand it. It is not the job per se that drives her to the edge of insanity. It is the people. Or I should rather say, it is the business style of the company.
As soon as my friend started her new job, she began to suspect that something was not quite ordinary, not entirely professional. For a few days she could not put her finger on it, until the day her company had a holiday party.
On the day of the party, the food was cooked to perfection, neatly assembled on the plates, and ready to be consumed by hungry employees. People gathered around the table. The anticipation of something significant was lingering in the air. My friend, starving and salivating, dared to ask a co-worker if she could eat. A woman, gave her a startled look, and explained that everyone was waiting for the owner to come in, say a prayer and bless the food.
A few days later, my friend called me from her tiny cubicle and whispered feverishly: “I am ready to walk out. We just had to pray in our staff meeting. I kid you not! I was expecting people to bear their testimonies.”
For a split moment, I could not believe what I was hearing. Then I remembered my own experience, from a few years ago.
My former boss, during an annual review, asked me if Lithuania (where I was born and raised) was predominantly a Catholic country. When I answered affirmatively, he dug deeper, wondering if I, myself, was a Catholic. This was where I made the crucial mistake of telling him that I was agnostic.
As soon as my confession of being a non-believer was verbalized, his eyes lit up with maniacal determination. I could almost physically feel that salvation was upon me! He put aside my annual review, and pulled up the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website on his computer. This marked the beginning of a very long and boring lecture about the Mormon religion, its teachings and values.
Now, imagine me, flabbergasted, wondering what the hell was happening. Was my rejection of Mormonism going to be taken in essence as the rejection of my possible future career with this company? Was he going to ask me to repent?
I was at work, in a (so-called) professional business environment, and my boss was lecturing me on Mormonism. What in the world did it have to do with my work performance?
I stayed, and I listened to his lecture to the end because I desperately needed the job.
I left his office loaded with a Book of Mormon, a few religious CDs and some other printed material about the Mormon church. My head was exploding from his speech on building the Kingdom of God on Earth.
I returned all of the religious material a few days later, and politely but firmly said that I was not interested. If I ever decided to blossom spiritually I would go to a Russian Orthodox church in Salt Lake, not a Mormon temple.
Back to Story One
I told my friend to do what I did years ago: suck it up for now and start looking for a new job.
I wonder, however, if my friend decided to worship Allah, or talk to Buddah or pray to some other god, would she be allowed to do it in the office? Would her co-workers consider it blasphemy?
I am tired of being outraged at the blatantly righteous indignation to anything that is not Mormon by the members of the Mormon society. However, unfair treatment and imposition of the Mormon religion on others still makes me mad.
Back to Story Two: The Afterword
I did not get fired. I left on my own terms.
However, till this day, I think that my former boss expects me to be overcome with the spirit of the Lord and bear my testimony that his business was true, and I should be thankful for the great opportunity to have worked for him.