Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Peeking During Prayer

Today was our company's pot luck lunch. Our break room was filled with turkey, macaroni and cheese and the guilt of knowing there would be no more work done for the rest of the day.

And seeing as I work for a Black company, no meal is complete without saying grace. That's right. For all you White folks reading this, Black companies say grace during group meals -- as politically incorrect as it is, Black companies assume you:
A. Are a practicing Christian
B. Share prayer with other folks

It's just a fact. It's not all the time, but if there's a company picnic, potluck meal or holiday dinner you should expect that heads will be bowed and Jesus' name will be invoked.

Now I'm sure if you asked everyone there, they wouldn't see anything wrong with asking their fellow co-workers to pray to Jesus -- because I'm sure they assume their co-workers would be doing it anyway. I mean we're all Black right? We all like greens, we all play Donny Hathaway during the holidays, we all think OJ's innocent, right? (at least for killing his wife. These new robbery charges look bad for Juice).

Oddly enough, we JUST had workplace harrassment training which of course focused primarily on grabbing ass and booty calendars. Not that I would even think of complaining, but when everyone in the room asks that you bow your head and pray, you can imagine a hostile environment were you to raise your hand and say "Pardon me, I'm not yet convinced there is a God or that Jesus was related to him in anyway, so I'm go ahead and chow down on these mashed potatoes."

Who knows, maybe folks would be understanding that a heathen works amongst them. Or maybe not. I'm not ready to test their understanding. Not ready for the questions, not while my paycheck is at stake.

So I made like a polite savage and grasped the hands of my co-workers (I heard later that one of my male co-workers actually moved during grace so he could avoid holding another man's hands -- no, he's not 10 years old, either) but I don't bow my head and I don't "Amen." Not that anyone knows (though I think some suspect), but I don't want to PRETEND to be something I'm not, even if everyone assumes that I really am that something. At the same time, I want to be a team player. For the same reason you laugh at an old person's joke, I just don't want to be rude.

I don't know if you can imagine, but those moments when my eyes are open and my neck extended, I feel like a deer standing in an empty field during hunting season. Except all the hunters are looking the other way, not aware of what looms feet away. If one breaks the format, if one of the faithful peeks -- I'm caught.

But, as I've said before, it's that moment I'm sadistically waiting for. Sweet exposure -- when my pretenses are laid bare and everyone discovers they've been working, laughing and living with a heathen, a non-believer. But I'm not here to mock -- ok, maybe a bit of mocking (see my entry about Jehovah's Witness). But I don't want to disrespect or belittle. Faith is important, for some. Not all. But some, and some of those people are my best friends, my family, the loves of my life.