I Do It For The LordPosted: June 17, 2011
Whenever I’ve gone to work somewhere new, I’ve always done so thinking that I was joining a fine establishment. It’s a solid company, thought of well in the community in which they do business, stockpiled with A Team players. That sort of thing. It’s a natural expectation. After all, the company I work for, and hence the company I keep, can be seen as a direct reflection of me, as well as my value to others and my self-worth.
It’s not much to ask that the people I worked for and with be honest, well-intended people. And while I know I do stupid things for the wrong reasons from time to time, there is almost always a point at which I am able to reflect on my actions and be honest about what I did and why I did them. It’s part of what keeps me from knowing I’m not a complete jerk (at least not all of the time).
One of the guys I worked with at my chop shop was by all outward appearances a good man. Let’s call him Wayne. That’s actually his real name, but I’m pretty sure he’s in prison now, so he probably won’t be reading this for the next 5-7 years.
Wayne was not only a fellow mortgage broker, but he was also a husband, father of two little girls, and a minister with the Jehovah’s Witness outfit on the south side of Chicago. For some reason, I had blindly assumed that all Jehovah’s Witnesses were pencil-necked, bike-riding white boys from the suburbs. He was black (can I say that?), nearly six and one-half feet tall, thick and wide, and wore suits purchased on layaway that were made with thread so bright you’d think you were on magic mushrooms when he’d walk into the room.
By my third week at the chop shop, my dreams of working for a class organization had pretty much flown out the window. I was one of eight people (out of maybe 30) that had gone to any sort of university, and I had never been previously employed by either Jiffy Lube or The Dress Barn. I was no doubt playing on the B Team. Or D. But then there was Wayne. He wore pocket squares, and he spoke as eloquently as any man I had ever met. I liked him. We talked a lot, mostly about his ministry. He was a passionate orator. He could go on for hours, and often did, about the coming apocalypse and how establishing the “Lord’s kingdom” on earth was the only way to save us all. It’s the Jehovah’s Witness mantra. A bit far out for me, but he was a man deeply rooted in his beliefs and I respected him immensely for that.
One day in that third week, as we sat in his office with the door closed, in the midst of a conversation about his weekend door-to-door evangelism, he asked me a question that, at first, I didn’t quite get. He said, “You’re Jewish, right?” I confirmed, and he continued: “So…are you a big guy?”
“I’m five feet and seven and a half inches tall,” I said. “I’m obviously not a big guy.”
He shook his head, stretched his neck so that he could see over the desk, and pointed his wide brown eyes at my waist. It became clear that he hadn’t been talking about my height, and it quickly became a weird conversation that eventually led to his next question: “Would you ever consider doing porn?”
He offered me $25,000 to do a “scene” in his movie. I know that may sound unbelievable. The going rate for Jews is probably much less. But to any doubters, I can only offer you my word that this is completely true. When I promptly turned him down, he said, “Is it because you’re married?”
What he didn’t seem to understand was that while being married no doubt played a role in my decision, the bigger issue was that I’m just not the sort of guy who bangs strangers for cash. At least not on film. And I couldn’t believe that the Jehovah man himself—the door-to-door evangelist of 75th Street—was a producer of pornography. The selfish part of me was bitterly disappointed that I took a job that was also available to pornographers. I also felt somewhat betrayed. Porn production was a big thing to leave off your resume when applying for new friends. I felt as though I’d been lied to. But even after I got over all of that, I just couldn’t fathom why this guy would want to do that sort of work, and he sensed my confusion.
He asked, “Why do you come to this office every day and do this job?”
“Because I need the money.”
After a reflective pause, he said, “Everyone needs money. Even God needs money to do his bountiful work. But why do you do it?”
“I guess I don’t really know,” I said. “Why do you make porn?”
I liked where the conversation was going. I was sure he was finally going to tell me he understood where I was coming from; that, yes, he was doing a despicable thing for money, for greed; that he knew it was not the sort of work befitting a man of God; that if his kids knew that it would crush him; that he wished he could find a way to stop. But he just leaned back and swung from one side to the other in the pleather desk chair he had won for bilking more fees out of helpless borrowers in a single month than anyone else in the office. And with his arms comfortably at his side, and his cocksure eyes locked on me, all he said was: “Well, I suppose in some ways I do it for the Lord.”