There is this guy at work who I call Barney because his voice and body type reminds me of the big purple dinosaur. He loves to talk, especially to our supervisor, but usually I manage to avoid conversation with him. Then I made the mistake of talking to him, and now he wants to convert me.
On Monday I accidentally told him I wasn’t just okay, that I had injured my back and I was in significant pain. He proceeded to tell me something about his dad having back injuries, but I passed out in the middle of that story. Not really, I just lost interest, and when I woke up, he was was talking to someone else.
Yesterday, while still in pain, I was setting up one of those standing desks I make fun of, so I can switch between sitting and standing when one or the other starts to hurt my back. Barney stopped by to ask if my back felt any better, and I told him not really. He had some stuff on his face, possibly popcorn detritus stuck on a whisker on his cheek. Remember that Tide commercial where the stain was talking during the job interview? Yeah, the popcorn crumb was a little distracting. Anyway, He noticed my standing desk, and he started talking about how much he loved his standing desk, and that humans weren’t meant to stand all day. Unfortunately, I didn’t try to end the conversation.
I said for most of the past 70,000 years we were all hunting and gathering, and that only in the last 200 years have we become office-bound, and we have not evolved to sit all the time. He told me that he doesn’t believe in any evolution or “hundred thousand years or whatever”, that he believes the bible and has a close relationship with Jesus Christ. At this point my brain hurt as much as my back. I told him I don’t believe any of that, but holy fuck, he just kept on talking. Just before I blacked out again, he was saying that he is excited about JC and wants to share it with everyone he can.
During my short coma Barney told a story about his dad’s hearing and how they prayed really, really hard and miraculously he healed; another story about how he almost got hit by a semi and called out to JC, who saved his ass; and another story about his own back problems and how God healed him, or whatever. He finally ran out of words, but just before he left, the popcorn on his face said he would remember me in prayer.
I am an atheist, and I am a pretty strong believer that mankind created gods, not the other way around. But I’m not that kind of atheist, the angry, militant atheist who rents billboards or files lawsuits about nativity scenes at Christmas (I approve of both, by the way). A few people at work know I am a non-believer, and I will tell anyone who asks me, but I don’t go proclaiming from the rooftops that I think religion is naive and unnecessary. I think it is better to respect everyone’s right to believe what they wish without being harassed about it. But shouldn’t that work the other way? Just because I am in a tiny minority of atheists in a society of believers, does that mean I have to accept preaching and proselytizing and people trying to convince me I am wrong?
I don’t really know what to say to the guy, and hopefully I can avoid him. But if he starts with the Jesus shit again, I’m going to tell him to drop it, or else. He can believe what he wants, but he should not try to preach to me, and I will be greatly offended if he does so. If he continues, I will take it to my supervisor, and we can have a little meeting about the pros and cons of discussing religion in the workplace. If that doesn’t stop it, there is a workplace harassment hotline, and I’m not afraid to use it, and we will all end up in sensitivity training.
Or I’ll get burned at the stake.