Watching the cursor blink, waiting, waiting, the first sentence was going to read, “I don’t like preachers” which would have been accurate, but imperfectly so. Let us try this, shall we:
I dislike preachers.
Yes, that’s more to the point, stronger, and says what I want the sentence to say.
This morning, zero early hours, I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office to give blood for my yearly checkup. I hope I don’t have rabies. After almost dying a couple of years ago or so, I’m more than a little paranoid about getting looked at once a year.
The waiting room fills up, like a wading pool of sickness and injury, and the room may or may not be a launching pad into the Great Unknown.
A man is talking to a woman, and he’s loud. Loudly loud. He has a spiel. I’m under the impression these two have never met, but he keeps telling her how “blessed” she is and how “blessed” he is, and how “blessed” it is to be here, bless his heart.
He laughs every time he finishes a sentence, as if he’s a comedian. And the laugh is the same laugh every time. It has four syllables, like Ha ha ha HA! With the last syllable accentuated. I stop reading to watch. He’s talking loud enough for everyone in the room to hear him, and when any preacher does this, he’s sharpening his knives.
He asks the woman questions, “Where do you go to church Ha ha ha HA?”
“Oh, I go over there on the west side of town, it’s Unified Christian Hypocrites, and. . .”
“Do you like it there Ha ha ha HA?”
“Oh yes, it’s a good church, we…”
“Who is your pastor? Ha Ha Ha HA”
He’s not only pumping her for information, getting her to talk faster and faster to keep up with him, he’s also making her feel more and more like she should. Used car salesmen use this technique to work people into buying a car. It’s fast, effective, and slimy as the feel of a preacher’s hand on your shoulder.
But this is minor deception, a sort of exercise, warming him up for bigger game, and I can feel it. The only difference between a preacher and a homeless person lying to get a few bucks is the homeless person has to be somewhat honest; preachers tell the biggest and the most lies than anyone you will ever meet, and their livelihoods depend on their ability to be great liars. This man is good.
“Mr. Marshall?” the receptionist calls, and the preacher stands up, makes a fuss about saying good by to the woman and have a blessed day.
“I’m Reverend Marshall,” he says with just a trace of that judgmental tone of voice that she should have known that was his title but she was too sinful to be aware. I’m sitting close enough to hear him. So were you, if you were in the same zip code.
“Reverend Marshall, you’re a new patient, we’re going to need cash, or a credit card, or a cashier’s check for your first visit,” the receptionist tells him. There’s a sign on the wall that has this information on it, at eye level, in a 48 font, bold. I’m also sitting close enough for the fumes coming off Marshall to choke me. He’s wearing some sort of perfume, cloying, sweet, and powdery, like cotton candy scented drywall dust.
“The Lord takes care of me,” Marshall says loudly.
The receptionist is a woman who has heard it all before, even if she hasn’t heard this before, it doesn’t matter.
“Yes sir, I’m certain he does. You’re a new patient, we’re going to need cash, or a credit card, or a cashier’s check for your first visit,” she repeats, and doesn’t bat an eye.
“The Lord takes care of me,” Marshall says loudly. “Ha ha ha HA!”
The receptionist sits there, counts to ten, silently, and then repeats what she’s already said.
Marshall laughs and waits.
The receptionist cocks her head to one side, and waits.
Marshall pulls out his wallet and says, loudly, “Money is the root of all evil, ha ha ha HA!”
“Thank you, sir,”
I give three vials of blood to the phlebotomist, while Marshall is talking to a guy who looks older than me by half again. Marshall is doing his rapid fire question routine but the other guy is hard of hearing, and hilarity ensues.
I pick up my paperwork and leave the medical professionals to the circus that’s come to town.