Our treasurer walked into the church office this morning, saw me typing away on my computer, and asked with a somewhat panicked (okay questioning) look on her face, “Is something wrong?” No, nothing is wrong. Nevertheless, I’m in the office working on my day off. I know, I know, that’s a really bad idea and normally I wouldn’t do it, but this afternoon I have something I need to do and it can’t be moved to another day. So I will take tomorrow off instead this week.
So what in the world could not be moved to another day? Well, once a year our Presbyterian Women’s group puts on the monthly birthday party at a local Presbyterian-affiliated retirement center. These birthday parties are always held on the first Monday of the month, and our month is always June. The women provide quite a spread of goodies to eat, gifts for the residents who are having birthdays this month, and then a program of entertainment of some sort. That’s where I come in.
Every year we haul out a stack of photocoped songbooks that have seen better days and (in case the copyright police are lurking) are full of songs in the public domain. Old songs. Songs that are at least 100 years old. Songs that were popular not when these residents were young, but when their parents and grandparents were young. And yet, they love to sing these songs which are a mix of popular music and old hymns.
But why do I need to be there? No one else except me can lead the singing. Of course that isn’t true, but that’s what they tell me to get me to come and do it. It’s nice to be flattered into doing something, even when you know that is exactly what is happening. No one is fooling anyone else. The truth is that any number of these women are perfectly capable of leading the singing. Granted, I do have a certain flair at leading the singing; a certain presence. I would have made a great MC.
So I am postponing my day off to go and lead the singing at a retirement center birthday party. I’m not complaining. These residents are fun. I know a lot of them because I also lead a monthly discussion coffee and discussion group out there, and that is always a hoot.
The bonus is that since I am in the office on a day when people generally do not expect me to be in the office, I haven’t had many interruptions and I’ve been able to get quite a bit of work done. One of the things I did was to check into an email sent to our webmaster for the church website. The email looks like we have signed up with them as our new website hosts. But we already have a website. And my understanding is that the webmaster did not sign up for this. So I called the company and the person I talked to insisted someone must have signed up or they wouldn’t have been able to get the webmaster’s name and email address. He was not at all happy that I was skeptical about this. I didn’t accuse anyone at his company of anything. I just asked questions, and my primary question was “If we just ignore this will be liable for anything?” He said no. He was put out. Well, sorry about that. You may be telling the absolute truth. But you have no idea how many scams are perpetrated against the church.
Yes, out and out scams. People who try to charge us for ads we did not place. People who switch our long distance without our permission. These people are in a whole other class than those who send out misleading information that never actually says you owe them money but make it look like you do. I am on hyper-alert for that foolishness because my elderly mother gets that sort of thing all the time – and by all the time I mean at least once a week. Even supposedly reputable companies do this. Magazines send out bills declaring that this is your second notice to pay, and come to find out you have already bought several years worth of subscriptions to their magazine. They just keep adding on more years to your subscription every time they con you out of a check.
There are a lot of unscrupulous people lurking about out there these days. They prey on the uninformed. They prey on religious institutions and charities. They prey on the elderly. Whatever happened to the concept of an honest living?
Well, I am delighted to tell you that it’s still out there and here’s an example: last week we had a severe thunderstorm with heavy rain and high winds. About half of one of the trees in my yard broke off and went flying. I’m not talking about dead limbs. I’m talking about branches full of green leaves. I had quite job ahead of me of dragging limbs and sticks to the curb. Two of the limbs were too big and heavy for me even to drag. I made a few trips in the short time I had that day and then left it until the morrow. The next day my neighbor’s son who is home from college rang my doorbell and asked if I would like for him and his friend to get all those branches to the curb. They’d do it for $20. Really? “Oh yes”, I replied. “Please do!” And they did. Cleaned the whole thing up in a few minutes, and they did a much better job than I would have done. It was well worth $20.
All this to say: Yes, there are still honest, hard-working folks out there. We don’t hear about them as much as we hear about the dishonest ones or those who don’t do an adequate job. So I wanted to share this story with you.