Thank You for Calling Heaven….Please Hold

I spent most of my adult life working for my family’s small business. Small business tends to attract a collection of “run-of-the-mill” weirdos who have trouble fitting into the “regular” corporate America environment…the jocks, the dweebs, the stoners and such. For example, I once worked with “the smartest man in the world.” I logged hours with “government conspiracy guy” and for a time I worked along side a guy who “didn’t believe in shoes.”

However, the most interesting character I ever worked with was a fellow by the name of Mike Moss. Even though our business was very small, it was difficult to figure out exactly what Mike Moss actually did. Evidently he held some sort of administrative position. One day he’d be working off site dealing with “logistical procedures”…the next day he would be “on assignment conducting a seminar.” Most of the time he was reportedly at “the home office” working on something called “the Deleware Project.” For a man who was as ghostly as he was, he seemed to know a lot about the business. He knew what equipment we used, its warranty info, and who serviced it. Well, at least I acted as if he knew these things. For years I worked under the impression that he knew what our “toner number” was. I certainly knew nothing about it. Mike Moss took care of all of our “long distance” concerns. He was allegedly responsible for our accounting work and he was the contact for all of our “compliance issues.” Mike Moss was the man with the answers.

Like most people in business, Mike Moss had his own business cards, voice mail slot and e-mail account. Interestingly though, Mike Moss never once handed out one of his own business cards and he never once returned a phone call or e-mail.

[Wouldn’t a guy like that be fired after his first week?]

Yes, one might think that. But Mike was a “specialist.” For over three decades Moss was an undependable man of inaction.

[What was his secret?]

Well, as it turns out, Mike Moss was REALLY good at what he didn’t do.

If you are inclined to be one of those people who are a bit leery of the business community, precisely because of people like Mike Moss, take heart. For what it’s worth, I am going to try to show everything that I believe to be wrong with the world of commercial trade. I am going to do this in an effort to illustrate my docternal thesis:

“Be glad heaven is not a business”….If it was….we’d be in trouble.

**** *****

Thank you for calling heaven…..to maintain customer satisfaction…..this call is being monitored for quality assurance. Para Espanol marce numero dos.

If you would like to learn about the benefits of becoming a valued customer….press “one” now.

If you are an exiting customer….press “two” now.

To myself: [Hmmm…I’ve been to church a few times over the years…I guess I’ll press “two”] ******BEEEEP******

Welcome, valued customer, to the heaven phone mail system. To help us serve you better please choose from the following menu options.

For requests having to do with you…press “one” now.

For requests having to do with others and how they may benefit you…press “two” now.

If you would like to hear about our rewards program for signing up new members….press “three” now.

If you would like to know what the meaning of life is…press “four” now.

To request the acquisition of a romantic interest and/or a potential spouse….press “five” now.

For generic health concerns…press “six” now.

For concerns pertaining to medical problems that have unpronounceable latin based names…press “seven” now.

For festering boils…press “eight” now.

If you are trying to remove an unwanted associate and would like to inquire about our “smoking policy”…press ”nine” now.

Please select from the preceding menu options at this time.

To myself: [Wow…I think I’ll press “four”…I’ve always wanted to know what the meaning of life was…]

****BEEEEP****

We’re sorry….you’ve selected an invalid entry. To return to the main menu press “one” now or to speak with a customer service representative…press “zero” now.

To myself: [Holy smoke, all I have to do to talk to a live body is press “zero”]

*****BEEEEEP******

We’re sorry….all representative are busy helping other valued customers at the moment. Your call is very important to us and will be answered in the order in which it was received. Thank you for calling heaven….please hold.

……..Then the hold music kicks in. It seems to be an orchestral version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” It could be worse. I understand that “heaven’s” main competitor: “Lou Siffer Enterprises, D.B.A. “Hell, Inc” has updated its hold music to an accordion version of Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love.”

“Voice mail hell”, pardon the expression, can be a frustrating place. Sometimes I just want to hang up and drive to the company’s storefront so I can unload on them in person. A number of years ago I had gone down to “Monopoly Cable” to complain about my bill. Moments later I found myself being escorted off grounds by a security guard. The police report says, “I started it,” but I beg to differ. I mean, come on! Whoever heard of being charged for parts AND labor? Am I so wrong for telling them to pick one?

Imagine what it would be like if heaven’s brick and mortar “repair shops” operated in the same manner as typical earth based businesses did. First of all, in a backwards bit of irony, they’d be closed on Sundays. Getting “repair” help would prove to be difficult when the shop manager pulls out the schedule book only to let you know that the next available appointment is three months out on a Friday afternoon between two and four pm. Then the manager will scratch himself and say, “Good luck with that…everyone leaves early on Fridays to beat traffic.”

At some point we might actually talk to someone who seems like they may be able to help us with our problem. Frankly I’m a little embarrassed by my issue, but I’m also concerned by the prospect that if I can’t get my problem fixed, I may be in some real trouble. At this point I sheepishly admit to the attendant the issue that I have!

“My soul is broken.” I also timidly admit to him, “I tried to fix it myself, but soon found that I could not.”

Invariably the attendant will ask, “What have you done to this thing?!?!”

Then he will raise his eyebrows and do that “inhale-sharply-through-the-teeth” thing. That will be followed by a barrage of verbal tap dancing, quasi double speak and an ample amount of hemming and hawing that usually sounds something like this, “I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never seen a case as bad as this one…have you thought about torching it for the insurance money?”

After a head scratch and some deep pondering you will hear, “This is going to be complicated” and/or “I’m not sure if we can still get parts for this model.” Then he will say with a trace of glee in his voice, “This is going to be expensive.” Then comes a bit of “reassurance” (such as it is) when he tells me, “It’s a good thing you came in when you did” and I get “complimented” on coming to this shop because, “”Nobody else in town is qualified to fix this except me.”

Then I will be “illuminated” by his masterful solution to my problem when he wipes his nose, hikes up his pants and says, “We’re just gonna have to put in a whole new soul.”

To myself: [Wait….what?]

The work would take longer than expected because of parts that had to be “special ordered from Zurich.” It’s also a pretty sure bet you’d hear the line:

“We found some more problems when we cracked this baby open.” Eventually I am told the work is done that seems like good news until I’m handed the bill. I would remain stoic as I think to myself, “I didn’t expect that many commas.” Calmly I would ask out loud, “Are you sure the decimal point is in the right place?” After being assured the bill was correct I would truly realize I have no idea how I am going to pay for this.

To myself: [I wonder how much I can get for a kidney? I’m pretty sure I have two of those.]

Well, at least for the moment I can put this on my “ambivalent expense card” and not have to worry about it. For another month.

Attendant: “Uh, excuse me Sir, your card has been declined.”

******** *********

I think it’s safe to assume that a privately run heaven would be a massive headache. I can think of only one thing worse. A heaven managed by the government.

First of all, prayer would be replaced by paperwork. Lots of paperwork…in triplicate….and wow!…the lines!….they would be “like an eternity long.” Every window except one would have a “next lane please” sign taped on it. Every person that you talked to would spin you, transfer you to another department, give you a form to fill out…or worse, do all three.

Getting anything done would take an act of congress. You would have to organize a “planning synposium” and a “development committee” then have a “round of hearings” followed by an “implementation panel.” There would be an “oversight board” an “inspection team” a “finance secretary” and a “compliance officer.” Programs would generate “watchdog” groups, “special interest” groups and “lobbyist” groups. The “wheels of heaven” would turn slowly and be subject to funding disputes. Heaven would have elections. Manna would be replaced with government cheese.

“Direct access to God” would be replaced by “layers of bureaucracy.” If heaven were run by the government, all of a sudden the “fear of death” would be replaced by “the sting of hassle.”

You know, all of this hassle from layers of government make me think back to Mike Moss. “A guy who never returned a phone call”…”A guy who seemingly couldn’t be fired”….”An undependable man of inaction” who was “really good at what he didn’t do.” If I didn’t know better, I would have thought HE worked for the government.

Mike was the “person” who dealt with unwanted customers, uninvited salespeople and anyone else who was deemed “undesirable.” I could quickly dispose of unwelcome callers by transferring them to Mike’s voicemail. Anyone who was in the office wasting my time could be quickly ushered out the door with a wry smile and a “Mike Moss” business card.

I had turned the tables on them. I was now wasting their time. I should probably tell you that in all of my thirty plus years working for the family business…I never once met Mike Moss. He was a reincarnation of an imaginary childhood friend. He was a fabrication. Mike Moss didn’t exist.

Sometimes I felt bad for the people I sent Mike’s way…sort of…I guess…if I learned that somebody had transferred me to an imaginary employee, I suppose I’d be a bit upset too.

Every once in a while I’d talk to someone who was “following up on a meeting” with Mike Moss. These encounters intrigued me. I was always eager to ask them, “how Mike was doing” because I haven’t seen him since “the accident.”

I’d like to submit once again, “be glad heaven is not a business.”

As a Christian I’ve discovered that direct access to God through prayer is an awesome gift. We have access to God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We don’t have to worry about getting stuck in voicemail purgatory. We don’t have to worry about the difference between “boils” and “smoking.” We will not get put on hold. If we walk up to a “service counter” at one of God’s “brick and mortar” outlets we won’t have to make an appointment or be told to wait. We won’t be given the runaround or have to fill out paperwork. We will certainly not be handed off to an “associate” like Mike Moss.

God will not inquire us about our soul by asking:

“What have you done to this thing?”

He will not “charge extra” for more problems discovered when he “cracks us open.” When we submit a “repair request” to God he will lovingly restore us to proper working order. No “job” will be too complicated for Him. He will indeed be glad that we came in when we did. Also of note, when GOD tells you that he’s the only one in town qualified to fix your broken soul…rest assured…..He’s telling you the truth.

******** *********

To hear this essay again…press “one” now.

For hours of operation and directions to our facility…..press “two” now.

If you’re trying to reach Mike Moss….we’re sorry to inform you that he’s out of the office at this time. Evidently his “grandmother has passed away”….yet again.

If you’d like to talk to the “Lord of Lords”, the “Alpha and Omega”, the Great “I Am”, creator and master of the universe….simply hang up and send a knee-mail.

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Convicted sex offender living in Federal prison finds Jesus; retains sense of humor while under misguided notion that he’s still relevant to society

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Convicted sex offender living in Federal prison finds Jesus; retains sense of humor while under misguided notion that he’s still relevant to society

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