[Unrelated note: From now on, I will tag all life-stories, shitty happenstances, and general me-ness (excluding pictures) with “This happened to me.”]
As any follower I have had for more than a week or two would know, I’m a caregiver for elderly and disabled people. Non-medical, non-certified CNA.
Yesterday, I went to a client’s home for a 9 hour shift. First of all, she wasn’t even scheduled for that time. Her, the office workers and I didn’t even find out until the next day that she wasn’t scheduled because her daughter in law called to cancel those hours. So, the client called the office to ask if they had someone to cover the shift, unaware of the cancellation that was made. They called me, asked me to take the shift, which I did. But, I wasn’t told I would have to take her to church.
Now, escorting clients to places they need to go isn’t usually a big deal. It happens that most people have places they need to go, and things they need to do out of their house. It’s no big deal. I didn’t think escorting her to church would be a big deal, either. It was.
We rode her church bus to the church, got inside, sat down for Sunday school, and everything was going fine. I tried to find a place to sit outside of the Sunday school classroom, but there wasn’t one, so I sad inside with my client. The women in her Sunday school class were so pleasant and welcoming. At first. Before I continue, I’d like to say that as a rule of my job, I am not allowed to discuss religion or politics with my clients, my clients’ families, or my clients’ friends. This is obviously going to be difficult to manage in a church. I also made no mention of my atheism to anyone. Because of that rule.
When asked about my religion, I simply said that I was not allowed to speak about it at work because of our policies. They didn’t take kindly to that. At all. I was berated and constantly asked questions about my religious affiliations, my church attendance record, which church I attended, who my pastor was, if I was raised with religion, all sorts of other questions. Each I answered with a simple “I’m not allowed to talk about it while at work, or on the clock.” They persisted. I was asked questions in the middle of the Sunday school lesson, about why I refused to talk about “my lord and savior.” At one point, the Sunday school teacher singled me out by saying “Some people aren’t allowed to talk about their religion at work, for risk of losing their jobs. That isn’t fair. We should always stand up for our beliefs. And losing a job for our lord is a dignified thing to do.”
It wouldn’t stop. No matter how many times I politely declined continuation of the conversation, these women would just not drop it. By the time it came time for Sunday school to be over, and for the service to start, these women were giving me mean looks, talking about me and how some people are just “bad Christians” and tried several times to give me literature and other things related to their religion, and looked at me with disgust every time I politely turned them down.
I can’t even remember all of the horribly mean-hearted things these women said to me. The most I remember is having never felt worse about myself than I did right then. I just wanted to curl into a ball and disappear.
I couldn’t leave, and I couldn’t get away. And everywhere I turned, there was someone condemning me for being a non-believer, even though I was nothing but pleasant, courteous and respectful, and had never said anything one way or another about believing or not believing in any god.
Yesterday was just a crappy day.