A Dissertation in Faith-based Accounting…


I’ve been helping this guy for some time now. His name’s Maurice. He’s an older African American gentleman, about 45, I’d say. Dresses in a suit and tie and looks like he could easily be my father. He came in about two weeks ago to my job and spun a sob story for me about how his wife was going to divorce him, he had been kicked out of his house, had no funds, was living in a nearby hotel, and was selling some random items to raise some cash to make rent one more night. He had some $25 Tops Gift Cards he was trying to sell for $20. My instincts said scam, but I figured “what the hell, if I buy one, I’ll feel good about helping someone less fortunate, even though it’s probably a scam, and if it is, it’s only $20.” So I bought one. He thanked me profusely, and informed me that he was a Private Eye, and if I needed any investigating done, to come and see him…

Right.

He came in a week later looking for me again. He was selling some more things of his, DVD’s, model cars, etc…I remained carefully neutral and tried not to be overly personal, lest I give him too much hope, but I suppose I failed since he came back, eh? Anyways he told me how he’s still struggling, etc, so I felt bad and picked up a copy of Constantine for $4 since I had used that Gift card since then and it was valid. As he was walking out, I inquired as to how close he was to making rent. He said he had $40 and needed $43. Well I couldn’t just let him hover so close to the goal when I had the $3 in my pocket right then, could I? I tossed him a bone…I did get a good deal on the DVD, after all. Not that I plan on watching it anytime soon.

He came in again on Monday and gave me the scoop. Apparently he needed to make rent again and did not have the requisite funds. This guy Maurice, whom I’ve met three times and chatted with on a casual basis, came to me asking for a $40 loan. Hum…

My initial response was “listen Maurice, I know your situation and I was fine with buying stuff from you, but quite frankly, I hardly know you and I really don’t feel comfortable handing out cash.” It went back and forth for a bit, him eventually telling me he understood but I was his last hope, me saying what about your family? Or your church family? He’s a churchie as I’ve come to find out. He’s telling me about how ungenerous people, including church folk can be these days, and I’m barely supressing a grin at that. “We live by the Bible…Or at least the parts we like!” So I ask him “what does he plan to do? Even if I lend you the $40, that’ll only cover you for another day.” “Well, God provides. I only need a roof over my head and a place to pray and I’ll weather this storm.”

*Internal shake of the head, followed by a loud psychic sigh*

Religious folk…

Then I asked him “what about collateral?” So I asked him to give me the following to hold onto: his cell phone, some random cards (veterans benefits, food discount-thingy), and a photocopy of his driver’s liscense. He agreed to my terms and just as I started to hand him the money, I pulled my hand back. “Maurice, I want you to do something for me…” During one of our “chats,” he mentioned that he was in some other church and he had left because the minister was a gay man and according to the Word, that’s an abomination and he couldn’t reconcile with the idea of a gay preacher. Also, when he found out that I, myself, was raised Christian, but am a spiritual Agnostic myself (spiritual, meaning I actually spend time thinking about these), he felt the need to stir the pot and bring up his defense of the Christian faith. His opening was: “Ok, imagine the Solar System. Such an intricate balance of systems, balanced like a clock (see my watch? He points to it) to perfect precision, yada yada. Long story short, the solar system is too perfect to have been created sheerly by chance.”

I really don’t mean to come off as arrogant, but I love that defense because it’s so inherently flawed. I get it from my dad…His one thing was to always start a religious debate with me once a day, no matter what, so it always gets my blood flowing. So I prattled on about order from chaos, and how its been shown that the heavenly bodies are anything BUT stable (ex. the Moon’s orbit continually spiraling outwards from the studies of lasers and mirrors left by the Apollo astronauts). He nodded politely and we agreed to disagree. It was kind of cool, and I immediately smacked myself in the head mentally for having an actual conversation with a possible scam-artist. Still, he didn’t try to play to my tune, and that made me trust him just a bit more than before.

But you can see where this is going. I came to trust him enough that I lent him the cash. Hell, I’da felt like scum for not doing it if I hadn’t. It’s not like I’m so broke I can’t spare the cash; there’s always someone worse off than myself. It was more for myself perhaps. What philosopher was it that said men were incapable of doing anything out of selflessness? I think Hobbes…Either way I paid the man.

Where was I? Oh yes…”Maurice, I want you to do something for me…I want you to be more open-minded. I’ve known and met so many Christians out there and they live by the motto ‘if it’s not in my Book, I don’t have room for it in my life.’ After listening to your talk about the gay minister it I didn’t mention this before, but my own parents kicked me out of the house because I wasn’t Christian and that really hurt me. I gotta be honest with you; my first thought when you told me your plight and how your church family wouldn’t help you was ‘wow…that’s Karma right there.’ But I decided to help anyways, despite my belief that there is no overlord watching my every move and threatening me with Hell and despite what had happened to myself because I trust you and I’m not so bad off that I can’t afford to help.”

He seemed…Moved. Not as much as I’d hoped since he immediately went on the defensive about his pastor problems and stuff, but was grateful nonetheless.

He came in again today, with a friend. He needed an extension on the $40 loan for some reason as well as the return of his cell phone, but his friend vouched for him (Ron) and informed me that Maurice would be doing some work to earn pay. By the sound of it, community-based. Apparently, Maurice was also going to be seeing his wife tonight for dinner, to try and patch things back up. I had no problem with the extension and congratulated him on talking to his wife and wished him the best tonight. He was quite close to tearing up…

There’s a powerful lesson in this, somewhere. I can’t begin to describe it, but I really needed this as much as he did. Despite my utter loathing of blind faith-based religion, you can’t discount his belief, which of course, has only become stronger because he prayed for it and it happened. I suppose I gained a vague appreciation, despite the fact that things probably would have worked out they way they had anyways, it’s hard to describe at the moment because I’ve had weeks to dwell on the previous stuff as opposed to this, which only happened a few days ago. I dunno, it’s wierd.

But then, this is my Livejournal. Horray, 2006! Now that it’s half-over…

Categories: Uncategorized

6 comments

  1. You’re a far better person than I am. After having worked in the collections business (if only for six months), I have heard every single sob story, woe-is-me, God-will-help-me story in the book. Many times, I would then pull up their credit report and see that they were steadily paying their $650/month BMW loan, on time, every month.

    Then there are people like my own father, who are genuinely broke, but only because he basically pours his money into the streets… drugs, prostitutes and gambling. The trust that you put into Maurice is something that I simply cannot have for the general public anymore. I think I would only loan money to close friends, like you or Ari, because I know 100% that I could always trust you guys. On the other hand, I have no problem giving money to people in need, given that they actually are in need.

    It’s a wonderful thing that you did, both helping and enlightening that man 🙂

  2. you know, i would have been a bit more skeptical of this guy than you were. Hell, I probably would have stopped at buying the bonus card, but i guess you’re just a better person for the fact that you really helped someone out. I mean, i’m not the type to go “NO” and shoo someone away, but i fear that my niceness would be taken advantage of, so i find myself defensive at times.

    What you did is seriously an awesome thing for you to do, and only encourages me to try to give everyone more of a chance, because not everyone out there is someone trying to fish out of your wallet (despite how often i’m told how i can’t trust anyone these days.).

    It’s good to see you updating your Livejournal again, it’s been too long.

  3. You’re a better man than I am, sir. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have given him anything, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have given his cell phone back without his friend somehow proving to me, other than just saying, that he had a job.

    Welcome back to livejournal, it’s good to see you updating again.

    You’re a good guy. Don’t know if anyone’s ever told you that.

  4. That is indeed interesting. Everyone has already said the obvious but, again, you are a better man than I for what you did.

    Strangely everyones comments play into my own feelings on the subject. I have a lot of trouble trusting everyone. That’s no secret. Experiences with the “collections industry” made that even worse for me. Value your allies and respect your enemies.

    It’s my belief that if everyone, rich or poor, small or powerful, set in life or struggling put as much effort toward their beliefs and goals in life as they did with preaching about they got to where they were you’d see a better world all around.

    We as a world are so motivated by greed that even charity is misconstrued as selfish at times.

    Above all that, my hats off to you for taking it with a grain of salt, staking your ground on the issue and hopefully making a difference with him. You are one of a kind.

    • Wow, people were practically foaming for me to write something, it seems. Thanks for all the “nice guy” comments, BTW…Make me blush…You just can’t tell lol.

      To be honest, I rather expected this sort of response. People just can’t trust each other. I wanna say “these days,” but I’m hardly old enough to go that far with it. Everyone’s so afraid of being taken advantage of, people just tend to withdrawl and keep to themselves…Not that that’s any sort of bashing towards you guys; as I said, I didn’t really want to help him either…

      I dunno, it’s just interesting to me; perhaps so many others have just had bad experiences getting scammed, etc? Or is it just how we’re all raised? Either way, I’m glad I got to do this, for better or for worse.

      • People often misunderstand what nitzche implied when he stated “religion is the opiate of the masses”. well i dont know if he was religious himself, i am pretty sure bout his opium use. he ment it takes the edge off, or at least thats what i think. just like most addictions sex, videogames, drugs, attention, ect. it can do both wonderfull and horrific things.

        didnt realize any philosopher had ever stated the idea of selfish selflessness before, ive thought about it alot myself. but then i think another one of our long winded and dead friends once said “theres nothing new under the sun”, and in the relm of thought I think that may be true.

        your story is increadible, but i must disagree with my friends and say that if your a better man than I its very likely for other reasons. but your inquisitive nature is definitly one of your best traits.
        ps. i fucked up my game and need to get the freelancer cd back from ya, ill make you a brand spankin new copy.
        -vegetative idiocy

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