A message from above

When I was a child, I was told that everyone has something special about them, something that makes them wanted. I still believe that. You may be depressed, balding, too fat, too thin, jobless, too busy, religious, debauched – there’s a telemarketer, televangelist, spammer, or at the very least, a flyer for you. Personally, I draw peddlers of every sort. Most of them come in batches – just when I think I can’t take one more email offering Ciali$$ or Vi x gra (proof that humans will ever be wiser than all things mechanical, including spam bots), there’d be a home mortgage or a 0% APR credit card phase. My peddlers like to mix it up.

Spammers come and go. But the one group that has ever had a presence in my life, and made that presence felt is the “let us save your soul” group. They are persistent, inventive, and omnipresent. I don’t know what it is about me that gives me away as a soul in distinct need of saving. I’ve sampled almost every marketing tactic known to man to get me to believe in God. That I may already do so seems to make no difference, which leads me to wonder if God is actually trying very hard in his / her own way to tell me something.

My suspicions were recently confirmed. My from-out-of-town friends & I were doing the sort of things one does when on vacation – visiting the aquarium, trying out local delicacies, visiting the famous local Hindu Temple (which we’d mentioned to our parents & would be asked to account for), and mostly importantly driving to each of locations (this being Texas, that is pretty much all we did.) None of us drives (at least not legally in the US), and we took cab-rides, a LOT of them. Since this is a highly expensive and silly way of intra-city transportation, it’s a buyer’s market. Cab drivers fell over each other to offer us their cell phone numbers, happy to wait for hours just so they could take us back home or to our next destination.

I had my latest brush with the soul-savers in one such cab. Yeah, you’d think you’re safe because you’re not in some airport or a busy street but in the privacy of a car that you hired. Makes no difference. You see, our cab driver was of a religious persuasion. I don’t understand what made him decide my friends and I were godless heathens (especially given the fact that this chappie drove us for a good 3 hours to and from the temple). We spoke of our preferences for one temple or another, of friends, of marriage (of friends we’d lost to marriage, of recently wed couples who clearly “deserved” one another), of movies (Brokeback Mountain, which of course lead to Monster) …Sheesh, I knew we needed to watch what we said out loud in Texas!

After the 3rd or 4th hour of driving us, Fred (our cab driver) started asking a few friendly questions. It began innocently enough. Where were we from? Where we here on vacation? Was that a Hindu temple we’d just visited? How many Gods did Indians believe in? (This question had us stumped for a second or two, and we valiantly fudged with “oh, thousands!”) Was any one God considered more powerful than the rest? (the two Saivites in the car obliged him with a very Saivite version of the power structure). He spoke of the Gods in Nigeria (yes, he was from Nigeria). About a God of Thunder and a God of Iron and witch doctors (although I suspect the last was just for effect). All this time, I kept thinking – this is what traveling is all about! A bunch of Indians and a Nigerian discussing religion in Texas! A God of Thunder and a God of Iron! Would I get this at home from a PBS documentary? Possibly, but this was real.

Fred went on to say there was an interesting story behind his own faith. I should have seen the warning signals, but seduced by his talk of Gods of Iron & Thunder, I hmm-hmm’ed along. What followed was the longest “how God came into my life” story I have ever heard (and I have heard quite a few in my time). My friends promptly dozed off… I had to stay awake & continue to “hmm-hmm”, occasionally “oh-wow”, “really”, “you-don’t-say” along…

I suffer from obsessive compulsive listening disorder – I believe that if there’s anyone speaking, a) I must listen b) I must provide visual or auditory proof of my listening, and (the last and most fatal rule) c) if I start hmm-hmm-ing, I must carry on. Ask my classmates – “noddy” is possibly one of my mildest nick-names… (because in class it is impolite to hmm-hmm out loud) Fred’s path to enlightenment seemed never-ending. First we covered the free-as-a-bird years – the partying, the drinking… Life then started to resemble The Birds. Within a few days or weeks, Fred had had a series of accidents. How his car went up in flames, how he almost ran over a pedestrian (there must be some Nigerian pedestrian out there boring his family & friends with stories of his having discovered God after a near-death experience), how he was burgled not once but twice in 2 weeks – everything was described in loving detail. This was followed by the why-me phase, the friend-took-me-to-a-pastor days, the pastor-asked-me-to-fast-for-a-few-days phase, and after that even I stopped listening. By then I’d made a vital discovery about myself – I CAN put my hmm-hmm-ing on auto-pilot!

My friends would wake up every 15 minutes or so – see that Fred was talking, and that I was listening – and content that all was right with the world, go right back to sleep. Sure every 30 minutes or so, one of them would direct a giggle in my direction, break up my auto-pilot’s rhythm, and get back to dozing. Finally, we reached our hotel. Fred offered to drive us around the next day. I felt I had earned the right to veto, and I exercised it. My friends agreed, and actually had the gall to ask for a summary.

That night, as I finally got my just sleep, I had my own epiphany. God was trying to tell me something. Fred was right, the message was loud, clear and very simple. Only in my case, God was saying “My child, get off your ass, and get a license!”


2 comments so far

  1. inlivenout on

    LOL,awesome 😉

  2. DoZ on

    inlivenout: Thank you:)

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