The Bible College Story
I suggest that you grab some crab legs, browse my previous posts, come back to this post, and sit comfortably because this is a very long story.
When I was twenty-three, I began working at a local, unaccredited Bible college (that I subsequently was fired from). You know, let’s rewind a bit, actually…
In 1991, when my parents re-married each other and moved to Maryland, they enrolled me in a little Christian school named “Fundie Academy.” I was four years old. I graduated from that school in 2005, after having progressed through each grade for fourteen years. In addition to that, I also attended, “Pentecostal Fundie Church of Mammon,” the church that school was headed by. After graduating, I went to an accredited women’s college in Washington DC, and it was there that I obtained my English degree and subsequently graduated–entering into the world during the very beginning of the Great Recession. In college, I really had no plans about what to do with my life. I was still in a super Christian fundamentalist mindset, so I had a really hard time opening up to people while I was there–let alone trying to make connections for future employment. So, basically, right after graduation in 2009, I found myself hanging out at PFCM. I went to women’s Bible study each week and knew the leader pretty well since she was both the founder of the school and the Pastor’s wife. When I was little, she would give Winny and I special treatment (“helping her” when she needed assistance during the school day, or hanging out in her office to watch TV–yes, seriously). Her name is “AntiM” and for the majority of my life, I absolutely adored her.
It was right after college that I spent the majority of my time trying to get into graduate school. I really didn’t have a desire to go back to school, but I also had no job prospects, and I figured I would do well working as a librarian since I fucking love libraries. So, throughout the year, I applied to schools that had a Masters of Library Science program. My top pick was the University of Maryland, but I had also applied to Catholic University. I was put on the waiting list at UMD, and I was so distraught that you’d have thought someone tried to murder me. I did, however, get into Catholic, and in August of 2010, I started going to class. I knew, instantly, that it wasn’t for me. I’ve always hated school, and in addition to that delayed epiphany, it was going to cost me $60,000 (plus interest) in loans for a degree that I truly didn’t have my heart invested in. So, one night after class (and thankfully, before the add/drop period ended), I was driving through the 3rd Street tunnel when I decided to drop out of grad school. That was one of the three best decisions I have ever made in my life.
I easily slipped back into my life. It was a chilly Tuesday morning in September of 2010 when was walking towards the Bible study room. I passed “Werk,” the church comptroller and AntiM in the hallway, and a few minutes later AntiM came up to me and asked me if I was interested in being the registrar at the PFCM Bible College. I told her that, of course, I was interested, not thinking that anything significant would come from it. Well, two days later, she called me and said, “Hey girl, if you want it, the job is yours. Call me when you can.” Now this is why following your heart is so important. I knew not to work there. I knew it in my soul, but I was so concerned about what they would think of me rejecting a job (any job) in such an awful economy. In addition to that, I didn’t want AntiM and her husband “PS” to think that I was a lazy ass who really didn’t want a job. So, against my heart, I accepted it. On my first day, I found myself in an office alone. My new boss, “Toots” wasn’t there, since he had just started his own church, and Chocolate Baby my only co-worker, was on maternity leave for several months. I knew nothing, had no training, and yet I found myself in control of everything (and when I say everything, I mean everything, including international students, student payments, keys to classrooms, you name it). After Chocolate Baby came back, things began looking up. We had some fun times together, and ended up being pretty good friends. Toots would come in once every two weeks, so we didn’t have a boss breathing down our throats. It was cool. We had little drama, save for a few students who were assholes, but other than that, things were going well.
Chocolate Baby and I were the only ones who worked in the office, but there were several other people who worked from a distance and got paid much more. One of those people was Hopelessness, the worst person on earth. I had been warned about Hopelessness by “PJ” my predecessor. She simply said, “Watch out for Hopelessness. She’s a bit touched.” Hopelessness was the director of the online program and lived about three hours away. I made sure to heed PJ’s instruction, because I generally don’t like drama, and I really don’t enjoy being around crazy people. In the beginning, Hopelessness was extremely flattering of me, which I found odd. She, for some reason, felt the need to butter me up with complements and other bullshit, but all the while, I remembered what PJ told me, so I was kind without ever taking any of it in. About six months after I began working at the college, Hopelessness lived up to her name by being one of the nastiest people on earth. She accused me of deleting online classes and trying to destroy her. I was stunned and pissed as hell. I had made a plan to leave that job as soon as I finished paying off my car.
As time went on, Hopelessness was a continuous bitch. She would send emails to everyone but me (even when they were specifically about my department). She would tell Toots that I needed to be reprimanded for simply doing my job. She would gaslight conversations. Things came to a head when I finally got Toots (who finally got his boss PS) to begin using a new student information software in which all aspects of the school could be connected. When Hopelessness found this out, she was furious (before this, she had the ability to block me from accessing the online program, even though she had no rights, and EVEN though I was the registrar). She sent me another nasty email, in which I finally demanded that Toots call a meeting with the both of us so we could settle whatever the fuck the issue was. During that meeting, Hopelessness decided to say that her life’s calling was to help people be in ministry and how she never meant to hurt me since I was so young and inexperienced. She then tried to hug me (and believe me, it was like hugging seven and a half foot bear-man. Ooo she was a big bitch). As it is with women, forgiveness never happens. Women don’t forget, and enemies never ever, EVER stop being enemies. For the rest of our lives, we stay on a slow simmer, just waiting for the opportunity to cuss our enemies out and then we turn back to a slow simmer until death comes.
Six months after being forced to “make friends” with Hopelessness by Toots, Chocolate Baby and I were talking in her office as the maintenance crew showed up, unannounced. Juan, the leader of the crew, told us that he was informed to change the locks to the file room plus my, Toot’s, and Chocolate Baby’s offices and to not give any of us the keys. This was in the middle of the day. We were confused, so I walked over to the church side and asked “Becky,” PS’s secretary and generally the only person in the building who knows anything, what was going on. She said that she had no clue, but there was no need to worry. Since our locks were being changed before our eyes, Chocolate Baby and I decided to clean out our offices. There was really no choice, since we wouldn’t be able to get back in once the locks were changed. We called Toots several times, but, as usual, he didn’t answer, and we were left to go home early with all of our personal belongings.
The next day, me, Chocolate Baby, and Toots showed up to work at 9:00 am. We were all standing in the Bible college hallway, since, of course, we couldn’t get in to any of the offices. We talked for a while about how confused we all were. Toots told us that he tried to contact the powers that be the night before, but no one answered their phones. He then told us that he had a meeting with PS that morning, and that he would give us direction afterwards. Before his meeting, he told us, “Sit tight, I’ll be right back.” About ten minutes later, “Luke,” the head of security, came up to me and Chocolate Baby in a rush, and said, “Hurry, PS wants to meet with you both NOW.” We walked over to his office, wondering what the hell was going on, since we hadn’t heard back from Toots. Plus we were getting to meet the Wizard of Oz himself, who never ever had anything to do with the college at all, except for being the “president” on paper.
We entered his office, and he directed us to sit down. A few seconds later, AntiM came in, and she sat down with PS. He said, “I have decided to let Toots go. And the story you say is, ‘There was a conflict of interest, and Toots had to go’.” I was stunned. Not only was he telling us what to say, but I already knew it was a massive lie. Toots was a pastor at another church–which was under the same denomination as PFCM. He had been pastor for two years, and very recently, Toots had been promoted within the denomination to be in leader of the denominational churches in the tri-state area which included being over PFCM. Ever since then, PS was super upset that he wasn’t promoted instead of Toots. PS then said to us, “Tell me now if you do not want to work here, because I do not want you to work somewhere you do not enjoy.” We were speechless. He then told us that he would not be giving us our office keys back, but that we would have to find Luke every morning to get in. Chocolate Baby then told PS that people had been stealing from our offices (which was true), and this ticked PS off enough to give us our keys. He also entrusted her with the file room key after she informed him that it was illegal for any non-college employee to have access to student records.
Life had changed from that point forward. For three months, we had no boss, which was fine since we had already been running the college the majority of the time. But on a fateful day in August, we got a phone call from PS telling us that Hopelessness would be our new supervisor. Upon hearing that, I laid prostrate on the floor in my office moaning for several minutes. Actual hopelessness consumed me.
For months, Hopelessness made arbitrary rules and changes that became detrimental on both personal and business levels. Several people quit (three deans, one library technician, countless professors). Enrollment had dropped by 50%, and Chocolate Baby and I were disrespected blatantly and constantly by her, PS, AntiM, and Werk. We were constantly on edge, seeing as how we never knew what was going to happen from day to day since they were all so secretive about things. It got to the point where we would find out office information when the general public would (new deans, course changes, etc). PS’s narcissism was also becoming more apparent throughout the building. On the night of the Superbowl, he sent several texts telling us to come to an emergency meeting the next day. In that meeting, he had another narcissistic pastor from South Africa come and tell everyone in the building how none of us deserve to get paid for our work, and how if this is an issue, we can work somewhere else. He also said that if we couldn’t find a job “in the world” that they didn’t “want us either.” It was truly disgusting. I really felt like the whole meeting was directed at me specifically.
And then March 25th came. One Friday afternoon, Hopelessness asked me if I could meet with her on Monday at 1 o’clock. I told her yes, because where the hell else would I be? So Monday at 1:00 came, and I headed to her office. I saw that one of the new sycophant deans was in there. Hopelessness invited me in. A few seconds later, Werk came in, and then Hopelessness said a prayer to begin the meeting. She started off by saying that the night before was long, since Benny Hinn had been at the church and how they all attended. She then said that she, along with PS (and Werk sitting in place of him) had decided to fire me. I asked why, and she told me that I had hung up on her (untruth), I was disrespectful to faculty, and that I had “abandoned my post” the week before when I went home early one day after becoming ill. I then said, “When will I get my check?” And Werk handed me a half a check and took my keys. He then followed me to my office and said, “Thank you for being such a great worker. You have definitely helped me through the years–especially with student accounts.” He then said, “Why don’t you call AntiM?” I said, “For what? Y’all will never see me again.” And I packed up my stuff and left. For the rest of the week, I couldn’t move my neck, I was so upset. The only time I felt physical relief was when I’d cry. It wasn’t until then that I learned how it felt to be betrayed in the most fundamental sense. I had known these people since I was four years old. I even spent two weeks one summer house-sitting for AntiM and PS for free. They knew my family. They knew me…or so I thought. So for about three months, I was in a deep depression. And just to think that all of this could have been avoided if I would have followed my heart and declined the job offer.
Song of the Day: Chameleon by Labelle